The Asian Development Bank on Oct. 25 approved an assistance package worth 108 million USD to upgrade rural roads and irrigation systems in some of Vietnam's poorest areas.

The assistance targets 15 mountain provinces in northern Vietnam where more than one-in-four families live in poverty.

The project will enable the upgrading of 600km of roads and provide better irrigation on 12,400ha of farmland.

"Improved irrigation and water management is critical for Vietnam's food security, particularly in the face of rising food demands and the worsening effects of climate change," David Salter, Rural Development Specialist in ADB's Southeast Asia Department Salter said.

"This project will help farming communities boost rice yields by 25 percent and even diversify into more profitable crops," Salter said.

"Travel time, effort and costs will be reduced by an average of 55 percent while transport reliability will be increased. This will provide farmers with more options for strategic marketing," he added.

"Roads are lifelines for these families," said Salter. "Good roads give rural people access to work in towns and cities to supplement and counter the cyclical incomes of farming.

"They also give women and the elderly better access to medical care, and make it easier for children to get to, and stay in, school."

The ADB-supported project will also upgrade 10 rural commune markets to bolster local commerce./.