ADB pledges $108 mln to improve Vietnam roads, irrigation systems

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) Monday approved US$108 million in aid to upgrade rural roads and irrigation systems in northern Vietnam.


The aid will go towards improving 600 kilometers of roads, irrigation systems across 12,400 hectares of farmland, and upgrading ten rural commune markets to bolster local trade.


It targets 15 mountainous provinces where more than one in four families live in poverty.  


It aims to help farming communities boost their rice yield by 25 percent, and allow them to respond to market demands and diversify to more profitable crops, David Salter, Rural Development Specialist from ADB's Southeast Asia Department, said in a press release.


Travel time, effort and costs, meanwhile, will be reduced by an average of 55 percent, among other benefits, Salter said.


According to ADB, many rural mountainous communities in Vietnam see high poverty rates, partly due to the lack of productive rural infrastructure which limits local people's access to economic opportunities and services.


While the country has three million hectares of farmland equipped with irrigation facilities, another one million hectares are not currently being irrigated, and many irrigation schemes are in need of rehabilitation, ADB said.


"Improved irrigation and water management is critical for Vietnam's food security, particularly in the face of rising food demands and the worsening effects of climate change," said Salter.


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