ISLAMABAD: The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors on Friday approved $300 million in financing to support Pakistan in upgrading rural roads to provide safe and reliable access to schools, health facilities and markets in the most vulnerable districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Rural Accessibility Project (KPRAP) will provide safe and affordable transportation to primary and middle schools, especially for young girls, in remote areas, which have the lowest enrollment and attendance rates. The project will also improve connectivity to markets and provincial centres to support income generation for rural farmers by reducing transportation costs and travel times, according to press statement issued by World Bank. “This project takes a climate-smart approach that builds resilience into the design of transportation infrastructure, which is critical to improving the reliability and connectivity of rural road networks in KP, especially for remote areas most at risk to extreme weather,” said Najy Benhassine, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan. “By increasing year-round mobility and access to schools and health facilities, these investments will directly support human capital development and help farmers better cope with weather-related travel disruptions and economic shocks,” Benhassine added KPRAP’s climate resilient design include all-weather roads, that are safer and will help reduce accidents and fatalities. It will also generate savings from reduced maintenance and construction costs when a road fails. “Access to basic education and health services is a major issue in KP due to travel disruptions and poor connectivity between districts and provincial centres, especially in the northern and southern areas,” said Lincoln Flor, Task Team Leader for the Programme. “Providing safe, all-weather roads and reliable transportation services will help increase student attendance in to schools to address/reduce to low school enrollment and early dropouts. It will also address the lack of access to health facilities, which is linked to higher mortality rates from preventable or otherwise easily treatable diseases,” Flor added. KPRAP will benefit 1.7 million people who live in rural areas in KP and will improve income generation for women and men in agriculture, accounting for 20 percent of employment in in the province. It will also increase regular attendance of up to 60,000 girls at the primary- and middle-school levels and support up to 5,000 new enrollments of girls from the most vulnerable communities in KP.