The Asian Development Bank on Friday lent the Vietnamese government US$80 million for a road development project in six remote northern provinces.
The money will improve connections between mountainous rural communities and major national highways to create economic opportunities for some of the country's poorest people in Bac Kan, Cao Bang, Ha Giang, Tuyen Quang, Yen Bai and Lao Cai.
Poor access to various services including education, health and markets is a major socioeconomic development challenge in the region, where about 30 percent of the population live in poverty, the government had said in its socioeconomic development plan.
Some children have to walk hours a day through jungle to get to school. Many have to stay at make-shift dormitories put together by their parents near their schools.
Tomoyuki Kimura, ADB country director for Vietnam, said in a press release that it's "essential" to narrow the development gaps with remote ethnic minority communities by increasing their access to market and social services with "better, safer, faster and more reliable road links."
The road project will improve about 300 kilometers of unpaved and frequently impassable roads in the provinces. Most of them are located in areas prone to natural disasters such as flash floods, which are set to worsen as a result of climate change.
The Nordic Development Fund is providing a grant of $2.68 million to develop climate proofing measures in road rehabilitation.
Six provincial governments will implement the project, marking a significant shift from the past when the Ministry of Transport was the executing agency. The project is expected to be completed by December 2016.