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Signing of Bilateral Agreement

25 November 2014. The Government of Switzerland has agreed to provide grants for Technical Assistance of over 9.9 million Swiss Francs (CHF) (equivalent to NRs. 1.1. billion) to the Government of Nepal for the Trail Bridge Sub-sector Support Programme, Phase IV. Agreements to this affect were signed on the 25th November 2014 between Mr Madhu Marasini, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Finance, and Mr Jean François Cuénod, Chargé d' Affaires a.i., Embassy of Switzerland in Nepal, on behalf of their respective governments.

This assistance is a continuation of over four decades of support by the Swiss Government for trail bridge construction, through which more than 5,500 bridges have been built throughout the country. Speaking at the signing ceremony, Mr Cuénod, expressed his pleasure and noted that on behalf of the Swiss government he was '…happy to continue to  support Trail Bridges in Nepal, as these bridges have significantly contributed towards poverty reduction, through enhanced access to social services and economic opportunities'. Every day, over 11 million people use these bridges. They provide safer access and reduce walking distances for users by 2.5 hours on each trip. After construction, in areas close to the bridge sites, school attendances have increased by 26% and visits to health facilities by 30%. New shops have opened and increased economic activities have also been facilitated at 32% of the bridge sites.

Referring to trail bridges as 'the lifeline in rural areas', Mr Marasini stated that '(their) value is enormous' and that the country still requires an addition 6,000 trail bridges, so that people do not need to detour more than one hour because of rivers and rivulets. In order to realize this, the Government of Nepal in partnership with other development partners such as Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), World Bank (WB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), and UK's Department for International Development (DFID) initiated the Sector Wide Approach (SWAp) to align planning, coordination, donor funding, implementation and monitoring. As such the GoN is implementing the SWAp Framework II in Trail Bridge sub-sector for five years (2014-2019). The target is to construct 2,500 new trail bridges, rehabilitate 800 and support the routine maintenance of 32,500 bridges. In addition to Swiss grants, GoN and other development partners are expected to contribute towards US$ 100 million for the implementation of the programme over the next five years.