Dhaka and Chattogram (formerly Chittagong) are the two major metropolitan areas of Bangladesh. The Dhaka–Chattogram corridor is central to the country’s economy as it generates almost 50% of the national gross domestic product and handles about 80% of international maritime trade. The 250-kilometer (km), two-lane National Highway N1 is the only major road that connects Dhaka to Chattogram.
Despite improvements in rural infrastructure, the share of Bangladesh’s rural population with access to all-weather roads and paved rural roads was lower than that of other South Asian countries at project appraisal. Compared with 60% in India and 61% in Pakistan, only 37% of the country’s rural population had access to all-weather roads.
During project preparation, Bangladesh was one of the few countries that achieved gender parity up to secondary level. Net enrollment rates improved from 87.2% in 2005 to 93.9% in 2009. However, despite significant progress, primary education remained inadequate to ensure quality primary education for all children on a sustainable basis.