The World Bank will provide $170 million in additional financing for the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP), which was described as one of the country’s “most innovative”.
In a statement on Friday, the Washington-based multilateral lender said the funding approved by its board of executive directors would support the development of rural infrastructure such as roads, bridges, communal irrigation systems, potable water supplies, solar dryers, greenhouses and composting facilities.
Designed to boost rural incomes and reduce poverty in the country, the project’s infrastructure initiatives are estimated to directly benefit more than 400,000 rural residents. Another 100,000 persons are also expected to gain from the development of rural enterprises.
“The PRDP is one of the most innovative projects of the Philippines,” said Mara Warwick, World Bank country director for Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand.
She said the practice of the Department of Agriculture of preparing provincial commodity investment plans together with local governments had empowered local officials to mobilize additional resources and bring in programs of other government agencies.
“The PRDP helps to consolidate and efficiently plan programs and activities that alleviate poverty in rural areas,” Warwick noted.
The government developed the PRDP in 2014 to improve rural infrastructure and support small business and livelihood projects across the country, targeting at least two million farmers and fisherfolk. The World Bank provided a loan and grant package amounting to $501 million.
An initial assessment of the project documented extensive benefits, including an increase in average household incomes by almost 60 percent in communities with rehabilitated farm-to-market roads, a 43-percent reduction of travel times in communities with better roads and a 54-percent reduction in the hauling costs of agricultural inputs.
Residents also reported an increase in school attendance and higher levels of enrollment, faster responses to medical emergencies as well as improved peace and order.
Hundreds of projects have been approved for the PRDP, including 232 that will deliver 1,700 kilometers of roads and bridges, 100 post-harvest facilities, 18 small-scale irrigation facilities encompassing 1,800 hectares and 512 enterprise projects with some 100,000 direct beneficiaries.
Under the PRDP, the Agriculture department provides technical and financial support for the planning process of provinces and municipalities as well as the implementation and delivery of services, rural infrastructure and enterprise development based on provincial commodity investment plans, value chain analyses and suitable production areas.
This integrated planning approach has been described as an important step in merging local priorities and national development programs, making the Agriculture department and local governments effective partners in the development of the farm and fisheries sectors.