The World Bank on Thursday approved a $130 million grant to Uganda for road infrastructure in the West Nile sub-region. The region hosts the bulk of South Sudanese and Congolese refugees.
In a statement on September 10, the World Bank said that its Board of Directors had approved the grant, to be financed through the International Development Association’s 18th window for host communities and refugees project.
The money will go to the roads and bridges project that will upgrade the 105km Koboko-Yumbe-Moyo road from gravel to bitumen and strengthen the institutional capacity of the Uganda National Roads Authority to manage environmental, social and road safety risks.
“This road project marks our reengagement and strong support for the transport sector, a key development pillar in Uganda. We expect it to bring economic and social benefits to both hosting communities and refugees and reduce the income disparities between West Nile and the rest of Uganda,” said Tony Thompson, World Bank country manager.
Besides hosting nearly two-thirds of the 1.4 million refugees in Uganda, the country is also the “land bridge” for the rest of the Great Lakes region, connecting its landlocked neighbours to coastal countries, the World Bank explains.
The proposed road corridor passes near Bidibidi — Africa’s most populous refugee settlement — as well as Lobule and Parolinya refugee camps, hence directly impacting 360,177 refugees and indirectly benefiting 810,529 refugees in the region.
“This road corridor connects Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan through Uganda, and it is an alternate route to reach the northern part of the country from Kampala and many other parts of Uganda,” said T Pratap, Senior Transport Specialist and World Bank’s Task Team Leader for the project.
“This will provide a safe and reliable conduit for travel of goods and people all through the year, thereby contributing to the economic growth of the region,” Mr Pratap added.