The Southeast Asian country Laos has been successful in reducing the number of people living in extreme poverty. However, about 25% of the 7 million people still live in poverty, while only 20% live on more than $2.50 a day. The majority of the people living in poverty reside in rural areas where there is a lack of roads and necessities. The Road Maintenance Group (RMG) program in Laos has bettered the country’s infrastructure by improving roads in rural areas. In addition to addressing insufficient roads, the program has provided more jobs, especially for women, as the initiative works to help expand job opportunities. As a result, the road construction project in Laos helped reduce poverty.
The Poverty Reducing Results
With the help of funding from the World Bank’s Poverty Reduction Fund, the Road Maintenance Group program was able to reduce the amount of poverty in the rural areas of Laos. The program increased the chances of women becoming employed with stable income by 70% after being a part of the program. There was also an increase in people’s monthly wages due to gaining experience under the program. The RGM had produced a 75%-90% increase in income gains from participants compared to the 30%-40% range from other public work programs.
Future Road Construction Projects
The recent success of the year-long road construction project in Laos is not a one-time thing. The constant floods, heatwaves and landslides tend to destroy Laos’ roads. The damage to the roads from these weather conditions affects Laotians who do not have a safe and efficient way to access food markets, healthcare and jobs. The Lao government has approved the reconstruction of the National 13 Road. This road is the most heavily used as it is one of the largest roads in Laos, stretching from the northernmost to southernmost areas of the country. Since National Road 13 is the most important road, the project will be greater than the RGM programs, producing a better job outlook and reducing poverty. The project will also help the country’s economy as it is greatly dependent on road transportation for trade and imports.
The total funding allocated for this project is $40 million from both the World Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which will provide safer infrastructure and jobs to reduce the number of people living in extreme poverty.
There is a growing need for stable and safe roads with the constant erosion that flooding caused. The roads are the main source of transportation for Laotians, and a lack of reliable roads limits the number of people who have access to the necessary services for their basic needs. Road transportation is also a crucial form of transportation for the people of Laos and the economy since land mostly surrounds the country and it does not have any seaports. The road construction project in Laos helps reduce poverty by providing the country with a reliable source of transportation and expanding the job opportunities for the people of communities living in poverty.
– Zahlea Martin