The FINANCIAL -- The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved US$ 170 million of additional financing for the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP), designed to boost rural incomes and reduce poverty in the country.
Jointly implemented by local government units and the Department of Agriculture (DA), the additional financing will also support development of rural infrastructure such as roads, bridges, communal irrigation systems, potable water supply, solar dryers, greenhouses, and composting facilities.
More than 400,000 rural residents are estimated to directly benefit from the project’s infrastructure initiatives, and another 100,000 persons would benefit from the development of rural enterprises, according to the World Bank.
“The PRDP is one of the most innovative projects of the Philippines,” said Mara K. Warwick, World Bank Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand. “The practice of the Department of Agriculture preparing provincial commodity investment plans together with local governments have empowered local executives 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.”
Targeting at least two million farmers and fisher-folk, the Philippine government developed PRDP in 2014 to improve rural infrastructure and support small business and livelihood projects across the country. The World Bank provided a loan and grant package amounting to US$ 501 million.
An initial assessment of the project documents its extensive benefits, including an increase in average household incomes by almost 60 percent, amongst communities with rehabilitated farm-to-market roads; a 43 percent reduction of travel time in those communities with better roads; and a 54 percent reduction of hauling costs of agricultural inputs. Residents also reported an increase in school attendance and higher levels of enrollment, faster response to medical emergencies, as well as improved peace and order in the communities served.
Hundreds of projects have been approved for the PRDP, including 232 projects that will deliver 1,700 kilometers of roads and bridges, 100 post-harvest facilities, 18 small-scale irrigation facilities encompassing 1800 hectares, and 512 enterprise projects with some 100,000 direct beneficiaries.
Under the PRDP, the DA provides technical and financial support to the planning process of provinces and municipalities, as well as in 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 is an important step in merging local priorities and national development programs, thus making the DA and local governments effective partners in the development of the farming and fishing sector.