Articles > North South Corridor-Road
North South Corridor-Road to
Spotlight, April 27-May
By Keshab Poudel
For Dilli Mahat, 32, a resident of
Khalanga district headquarters of Jumla district, one of the main
achievements of Jumla-Surkhet road link was to see the apple imported
from Kashmir ferried by mini truck in the inaugural trip.
Because of lack of transportation
facilities, Jumla's residents are compelled to dump tons of fresh
apples produced during July-August season. After looking at the truck
carrying apple, Mahat now visualizes that soon the apple grown in the
district will reach the market of south and across the border.
We can supply fresh apple to
Nepalgunj next year as the road links our village with the rest of
country and across the border," said Mahat. “Till a year ago, we had a
problem on how to export our surplus apple to Nepalgunj and Surkhet
but now it seems that we have to worry on how to compete with the
apple exported from India."
Mahat's worry is genuine. Merely
linking the road cannot bring prosperity and transform economy of
Jumla. What is required now is to exploit the competitive advantages
of Jumla and places along the road corridor so that poor people of the
region can benefit.
The World Bank's Nepal: Interim
Strategy Note argues that high transport cost and lack of connectivity
are major impediments to Nepal's development. Despite ecological
advantages over southern market, places like Jumla's products have
high cost discouraging farmers to grow cash crops.
Situated in northern hills of Nepal,
Jumla has many ecological advantages to produce agriculture products
that southern plain districts cannot produce.
When the temperature in south rises
for rice production, the temperature of Jumla and Kalikot of northern
region is suitable to grow the cauliflower and other fresh vegetables.
Road networks have many advantages
including exchanging goods along the corridor and outside the
corridor. Following the completion of east-west highway, Nepal was
integrated but it did not bring any transformation in the lives of
people of north where poverty and illiteracy is rampant. Despite the
huge ecological advantage to produce competitive agriculture products,
only a few northern hilly towns were linked to south.
"The completion of road is major
breakthrough in the history of Nepal's road transportation. Following
opening of the road, it also opens market access of other parts of the
country to the products of Jumla, Kalikot and other nearby districts,"
said Dr. Jagdish Chandra Pokharel, vice chairman of National Planning
With full ecological advantages, 232
kilometers long Surkhet-Jumla road corridor can be a boon for the
local population as the climate provides it with the best advantage to
compete with outside districts.
According to Human Development Index,
Karnali Zone is one of the most backward regions of Nepal. From
average income to average life expectancy, it is at the lowest rung.
With an aim to benefit poor farmers living in north-south corridor of
Surkhet Jumla and Chhinchu-Jajarkot road corridor, CEAPRED has been
launching LLP since last year.
Encouraging local marginalised
farmers to produce the off-season vegetables along the Dharan-Hille
road corridor in eastern Nepal, CEAPRED has already gained experiences
on how the road corridor can be used to bring the tremendous change in
the livelihoods of poor and marginalized farmers.
Although LLP is in the initial phase
of implementation, the people living along the road corridor have
shown that this is what they require to transform their livelihood.
"The overall goal of the program is
to contribute to sustainable rural poverty reduction in Nepal by
operationalizing and piloting the north-south corridor development
approach introduced by government's tenth plan," said Dr. Piush Mishra,
executive director of CEPARED. "Along with off season vegetables,
Surkhet-Jumla corridor also has comparative advantages potential for
non timber products. Our efforts are to integrate the corridor with
market in south so that farmers in north can enjoy their advantages."
The target beneficiaries of LLP are
5000 rural poor and disadvantaged families including marginal farmers,
landless families and women headed households and internally displaced
persons located within a reasonable hinter road areas along the road
corridor. “The project covers 17 VDCs of three districts comprising of
65 wards. In these areas, the project has revitalized 42 existing
groups and 104 new groups have been formed covering 3198 households,”
said Dr. Mishra.
Under the economic empowerment
program, LLP has identified various sectors. In vegetable production,
1202 households have been involved. According to the project, they
have been provided with required inputs to grow fresh vegetables in
their kitchen garden.
“A total of 78 goats with 2 male
goats have been distributed to seven groups covering 172 households
under goat exchange program. Out of seven groups, three groups have
been rearing goats in collective manner. One collective pig rearing
group, belonging to Janjati women has been formed and three piglets
have been distributed on an exchange program. Similarly, 460 poultry
birds have been provided to two groups. A total of 46 households have
been involved in this program,” said Dr. Mishra.
From providing technical knowledge
and capacity of farmers to develop a market to sell their products,
the LLP will launch its first program in Kalikot in the coming year by
mobilizing the local communities.
“We have started some activities in
Surkhet-Jumla road corridor with a north south corridor development
approach. In a particular part of the year, Surkhet produces certain
commodities what Jumla cannot produce because the temperature of Jumla
is much lower and vice versa. If you can develop the production system
in such a way that links the opportunities that exist in Jumla to
markets of Surkhet and further down to the market of Nepalgunj up to
the market of India, then the opportunities that you can tap because
of natural capital that exist in Jumla can lead to better growth not
only in Jumla but also across the corridor because the products that
Jumla can produce can have market along the corridor as well as down
the corridor,” said Dr. Hari Krishna Upadhyaya, chairman of CEAPRED.
The newly opened road corridor of
Surkhet-Jumla covers Surkhet, Dailekh, Kalikot and Jumla districts.
They are among the 10 low income districts of Nepal.
“We are covering districts like
Surkhet, Dailekh, Salyan, Jajarkot and Kalikot of mid western
development region of newly opened road corridor of Surkhet Jumla and
Chhinchu-Jajarkot” said Dr. Mishra.
Fourteen Years of Effort
Following fourteen years long
efforts, Jumla and Kalikot, two districts of mid-western region are
now linked with the rest of the country. The challenge now is how to
make them competitive in the market.
Thanks to the Nepal Army, the road
was completed on schedule despite years of conflict in that region.
This is not the first north south corridor road which Nepal Army has
constructed. Trishuli- Somdang road, Okhaldhunga -Katari road are
previous examples. Nepal army is now constructing Beni-Jomsom road.
Traditionally our road networks have
been dominated by east west high way. The road which opened up access
to wider market - is there but the producers have to compete with each
other in the market as all of them were producing similar commodities.
In the context of north south economic corridor, what we see as the
basic advantage is how the producers within the north south corridor
don't have to compete with themselves in particular market because
they produce different commodities.
Published by the Asian Development
Bank and prepared by late Dr. Harka Gurung, Nepal Regional Strategy
for Development draws the conclusion that transport infrastructure
determines the future pattern of development. “The north south road
linkages have now become more extended than when the concept of growth
axes was first mooted and these have been superseded by the East-West
high way with considerable change in the arterial route system.”
Some half a dozen cars reached
Khalanga on April 13 with the vice chairman of NPC Jagdish Chandra
Pokharel. The 232 kilometer long road will also benefit nearby
districts of Mugu and Bajura of far western region.
Although 112 kilometer long road was
completed in 1997, construction of the rest of the road was delayed
because of Maoist conflict and lack of budget. Had the Maoists not
attacked Nepal Army's road construction camp in Kalikot, the road
would have been completely operational long before.
“In a distance of few kilometers, you
can find temperature ranging from tropical and warm in the south to
cold temperature in north. This diversity is main advantage of Nepal
where one can produce a range of commodities ranging from sub-tropical
to warm temperature climate,” said Dr. Upadhyaya.
“By promoting the off season
vegetables in Dhankuta, we have already shown that by developing the
north south corridor for particular product, we can bring prosperity
in Nepal,” said Dr. Upadhyaya.
By replicating CEAPRED success story
of off season vegetables production of Dhankuta road corridor,
millions of poor people living in the northern hills can make a lot of
difference in their livelihood.
As CEAPRED has already initiated
programs for the residents of Surkhet-Jumla road corridor, farmers can
hope that their ecological and biological diversities will offer them
with unique comparative advantages and opportunities to grow a wide
range of high-value agricultural and forest products in raising their
income and enhancing food security.