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Nepal: Building Transportation Options for Poverty Reduction

Rural Access Programme Nepal


Poor road infrastructure traps approximately 80 percent of Nepal’s population in subsistence agriculture and makes transport treacherous, which inflates the prices of basic commodities. A lack of road maintenance exacerbates these issues, and a culture of ‘build and forget’ has become normal practice in all national district road projects. By 2012, over half of the local road network that was constructed over the previous 15 years was no longer useable because of lack of maintenance.


The Rural Access Programme Nepal is responsible for the design, build, and project management of road maintenance, road improvement, and new road construction activities. These construction activities provide an entry point for poverty alleviation in some of the poorest parts of Nepal. The work applies a pro-poor approach to road construction and maintenance to provide climate resilient roads and bridges in two of the most remote districts of Nepal: Mugu and Humla. We employ a hybrid construction approach—using equipment for earthworks and community labour for structures works—that provides wage income to some of the poorest people in Nepal while meeting the project’s progress and financial targets. We also provide technical assistance to local and provincial government bodies to maintain road access and support emergency and humanitarian responses during natural disasters and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Goals and Results

Through this multi-stage project, DT Global has created more than 19 million days of employment, of which 40% were for women. The project built over 1,100 kilometres of road; provided over 2.75 million people with better access to markets, health, and education facilities; and trained more than 40,000 people in new income generating skills.

Specific results for Rural Access Programme Nepal include:

  • Improved 4 kilometres of road from the town of Gamgadhi (Mugu) to the Mugu Karnali River
  • Constructed of 63 kilometres of new road linking Deuli (Humla) via Gamgadhi (Mugu) to the strategic road network. This was an engineered earthen fair-weather road built to fully meet the requirements of the Nepal Rural Road Standards and the government’s social and environmental management requirements.
  • Constructed four short-span (12–14 metres) reinforced concrete bridges along Mugu Humla Link Road.
  • Conducted compensatory planting of 102,550 saplings (a ratio of 1:25) for trees felled.
  • Piloted new procurement and contracting approaches and established improved practices for both construction- and labour-based works, demonstrating how a combination of equipment and labour-based approaches can be used to deliver efficient and effective road construction in remote mountainous areas.
  • Provided maintenance of 1,870 kilometres of the Municipal Road Core Network in 53 local administrations across Karnali Province.
  • Developed model documents and guidelines for Province Transport Master Plans, Municipal Transport Master Plans, and Technical Notes for local governments on best practice in road construction using labour and equipment.
  • Provided technical support to province and local administrations in delivering maintenance planning and implementation for roads and other infrastructure in 79 local administrations in Karnali Province.
2017 - 2023
Implemented by
DT Global UK
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