The Green Road Concept (GRECO) in the Nepal Himalayas describes a holistic vision of integrated sustainable Rural Road Access Development with short-term benefits of local income generation and long-term benefits of improved access. The GRECO is an experienced-based compilation of principles on environmental-friendly partcipatory low-cost Rural Mountain Road Developmentin the fragile Himalayas.
The construction work phase is optimally utilised for local off-farm income generation applying conservation-oriented labour-based technologies to overcome the current prevailing practice of uncontrolled and hasty, often mechanised linear rural road construction by inappropriate bulldozers in an extraordinary fragile mountain environment causing massive soil erosion in form of landslides and -slips along new roads and no future maintenance setup behind.
GRECO Principles: 1. Basic Rural Road Access Improvement is considered as socio-political and socio-economical agent to provide a basis for integrated rural development, i.e. providing access to markets, to education, to public health & hygiene, to electrification, to law & order, to promotion of democracy & federalsim; supporting marketing of agricultural exports & of imports including seeds, fertilizer, kerosene and other basic consumer goods) to reduce the economic rural-urban gap.
2. Conservation-oriented road net and road corridor planning maximising the access to settlement; road centre line selection between start and end points to minimise the destabilisation of the fragile hill slope balance and their protective vegetation cover. Detailed rural road alignment planning shall include information from available documents and maps combined with indigenious knowledge of the local population and professional field observations. Often, crucial decisions of ridge road versus valley road alignments, oriented towards south, south-west versus north north-east slopes need be carefully evaluated.
3. Social Mobilisation through formation of Local Road Coordination Committees and Road Building Groups offering preference of off-farm employment to local labourers which can compensate some negative road construction impacts (e.g., loss of land).
4. Rural Road Project Resources Mobilisation combining various contributions from the stakeholders including natural and human resources from local partners and financial contributions from districtict and central government partners.
5. Institutional Development and federalistic governance through active involvement of a decision-making legislative District Roads Coordination Committee, an executive District Technical Office implementing Local NGOs and/or Consultants for construction supervision.
6. Conflict mitigation through active involvement of opposite stakeholders and parties and neutraly balancing out their duties and benefits. A combination of emergency relief, poverty reduction and road building efforts through food/cash for work providing an optimum basis for post-conflict and natural desaster rehabilitation.
7. Ecologically sustainable construction through phased (gradual widening over three phases) and sectoral (simultainous works at various sections) road construction methods with focus on cross-sectoral and longitudinal (cut & fill) mass-balance and opmimum preservation of barren slopes with a protective vegetation cover (like wood carving). Flexible retaining structures in form of dry and gabion walls, drys stone water management structures and various forms of bioengineering to cover the barren soil are key elements of the green road technology.Economical need-based road comfort development through staged road upgrading (initial single-lane, natural surface) in line with the growing traffic volume and fund availablity.
8. Good Governance promotion & application through “Public Audit” i.e., a Community-based Public Monitoring (CBPM), emphasising on financial transparency through local publication (public sign boards etc.) of available funds and actual expenditure, payment monitoring of pay rolls to each labourer (developing labourer’s numeracy). In rural areas, where monetarisation of works, competitive work procurement through quotation or works tendering are unknown, in infant state or impossible due to collusion among the different stakeholders, work performance-based employment procedures through ‘Road Building Groups’ have been developed as appropriate temporary employment procedures to avoid commission-oriented works contracting. Simple compeditive Procurement pocedures have been applied for more sophisticated works combined with delivery of imported materials and mechanised works (e.g., RCC concreting, rock excavation).
9. The Development of sustainable regular rural road maintenance and rehabiltitation system already during the construction period through development of ownership for the respective classified roads, e.g., for a village road ownership by the respective Village Road Coordination Committee receiving road user fee collection authourity and/or regular central level maintenance fund subsidies (eg from fuel tax). 10. Participatory Preparation and Legalislation of a District Transport Master Plan DTMP including a long-term vision of the national, interdistrict, district and village roadway, trail-, air-, water- and cableway networks for Longer-Term spatial rural-urban Accessibility and Transport Planning.