For a long time, building roads in rural areas was considered as one of the main solutions to promote economic and social development through improved access to markets, social facilities, and better information flows. However for many developing countries this strategy has proven insufficient, often because little attention is paid to essential Rural Transport Services (RTS). As a result, RTS in most developing countries are underdeveloped and in most cases unreliable and expensive, posing a serious impediment to reaping the benefits of network and/or road improvements. The overall benefits of improved rural transport will not be realised unless road, waterways and to some extent railway transport services are also improved and sustained.
Sustainable RTS aims to connect urban and rural areas and in most instances involve transport terminals/bus stations/stops. These often play a multiple role involving various means and sometimes different modes of transport, such as in, for example, multi-modal rural hubs which is a new perspective for RTS planning (see below).
Designing appropriate RTS interventions requires a holistic understanding of the mechanisms through which rural transport services are provided and used in the rural economy of developing countries. Affordability, reliability and/or efficiency are all factors at play in designing appropriate transport services in general but in a rural context additional aspects have to be considered as is explained below.
As a first step Rural Transport Patterns and Surveys are an important tool to better capture the availability and needs for transport services in a particular rural area, starting at the basic household level. Integrated planning methodologies, such as Integrated Rural Accessibility Planning to design RTS must meet the needs of all end-users while at the same time consider the overall context and regulatory framework. Obviously, an integrated RTS assesses both supply and demand, aiming to reduce the existing gap between supply – through appropriate means of transport – and the existing demand.
In general demand is based on the economic, financial and social needs of transport users including any specific requirements of women, marginalised and/or vulnerable groups, such as People with Disabilities. Low demand, short journeys, and the limited ability of rural passengers to pay for transport services are general causes for an inadequate RTS coverage. And when the services do exist they are often unreliable and expensive, poorly planned, scarce (in terms of number of vehicles), resulting in high rural transport costs and service gaps. From the operators side rural transport services are in most cases unprofitable and therefore do not attract new investments on the supply side.
In designing appropriate RTS issues like equity, gender, and governance need to be assessed. These factors may lie outside the ‘traditional’ scope of economic analyses but will contribute to successful outcomes. The more traditional factors are topography, agro-ecological zones, farming systems, population density, economic development, remoteness, income levels, ethnicity, culture and transport systems in general. These can all influence the quality and nature of RTS as well as the overall supply and demand.
The Rapid Assessment of Rural Transport Services
In 2005 a team of IFRTD members led by Paul Starkey developed and tested a rapid assessment methodology for the Sub Saharan Africa Transport Program of the World Bank (SSATP). This methodology surveys transport types, operators, users and regulators at sampled hubs and spokes, stratified by hub hierarchy and remoteness.
While survey details are adapted to specific contexts, the methodology envisages an administrative province/region (5-10% of the country) with a distinct transport catchment area. This area will contain a finite number of hubs, perhaps one regional hub, 5-20 market hubs and 1000 village hubs.
Motorised transport services travel to and from urban hubs. Therefore questioning transport users, operators and authorities at the regional capital and three market towns yields an overview of transport services, prices and constraints. Participative interviews in 5 villages, stratified for remoteness, provide further insights on the transport needs of users, including farmers, traders, employees, housewives, schools, health services, and marginalised people. Traffic counts (including IMTs and pedestrians) are made on village, market and regional spokes.
Over two months the methodology provides a rapid, inexpensive overview of rural transport, highlighting key constraints, stakeholder views and proposals for improvements.
Click below to download the draft project report by Paul Starkey et al (March 2006)
Download (Acrobat 1.53MB)
Boda Boda Bicycle Transport Services in Kenya
The Ngware Bicycle Transport Youth Group is the brainchild of four young men who completed their education and then found themselves jobless. Their major goal was to be able to earn a living by providing both cargo and passenger services, using bicyles. They reached this decision after realising that the residents of the area they lived in faced serious transport problems, especially during rainy seasons. This area is served by a few murrum roads. These become muddy during wet seasons, making it almost impossible for motor vehicles to use them. In 1991 they set up a group in Chiga Market which is in the Eastern side of Kisumu in Nyanza Province.
The group began with well defined objectives and strategies. Over the years as its membership has grown from 4 persons to over 10,000 it has also had to develop a clear organisational structure.
This is an extract from a paper entitled Cycle-based transport services in Kenya. The Ngware Bicyle Transporters Youth Group, By Naboth Juma Okoth, November 2005. (published by Schorrell Analysis Engineering Publications.
The paper details the development of the Ngware Bicycle Transporters Youth Group including operational aspects, the organisational structure of the group, financing, social benefits and the challenges they face.
The full paper can be accessed here http://base.google.com/base/items?oid=17147856190312170490 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Children and Mobility - in their own words
CALL FOR ABSTRACTS - Gender and Cross Border Roads Development
Lessons Learnt from Community Bus Project in Sri Lanka
Executive Summary of the National Rural Transport Workshop in Burkina Faso
IFRTD Makes Submission to the UK's DFID White Paper Consultation
Taller Nacional en Burkina Faso: Transporte y Descentralización
Fury Over Rural Bus Service Cut in Scotland
Ghanaian Health workers warned to stay in rural areas
SSATP Publishes a New Knowledge Product
Limiting Rural-Urban Transport Links in Pune, India
Building the Road to Prosperity
IFAD, ILO and IFRTD team up!
Impact of fuel price rises in rural Sarawak
Using bicycles and motorbikes to spread the HIV message in Uganda
Bus services shun Zimbabwe's deteriorating roads
Transport Indicators Workshop in Central and West Africa
Poverty in South Africa Exacerbated by poor transport
Wheels to Work
Improved transport infrastructure in Malawi is key to rural development
Two new editions from the DRC Newsletter online
The Papua New Guinea ‘Eastern Highlands, Women in Agriculture’ association call for greater assistance with getting produce to market
Southern African Development Community (SADC) Road Safety Practitioners Convention to be held in Windhoek, Namibia on the 8th and 9th of April 2008.
Lake Transport in Benin - New Publication
Proceedings of The Sub Saharan Africa Transport Policy Program's (SSATP) 2007 annual meeting now available online
Impact of Transport on Access to health services for PLWHA in Namibia
Phelophepa, the South African 'Miracle Health Train' is providing services to over 45,000 people a year
New Global Road Safety Blog
Funding and Project News from GRSP
Culture puts the brake on women's mobility
Rural Connectivity and Health Care in India
Motorcycle ambulances in Malawi reduce maternal mortality
Workshop on road safety management
The SSATP Annual General Meeting
IFRTD participated in the 14th Road Safety Conference
Introducing rural transport in the university curricular
Bike Ambulance Project Launched in Namibia
Maternal Mortality Hits the Headlines
All You Need to Know About IRAP
Workshop on Road Financing to be Held in DRC
IFRTD Asia Held 6th Annual Regional Meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam
Zimbabwe: Rural Commuters Are Going Nowhere
The Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA)
From Mountain to Market
Building on the transport indicators workshop series – a virtual forum in Latin America
Bridging the language divide: sharing the experiences of French-speaking Africa
Regional Workshop on Animal Welfare
Taxis used to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS in China
International Engineers Course - Labour based road construction and maintenance
Announcing an International Symposium on Mobility and Health - October 2007
Crime hits Uganda motorbike taxis
At the Crossroads: Which Way Now for the World Bank’s Transport strategy?
French Virtual Forum Announced.
New French Email Discussion Group for IFRTD Members
SEACAP Programme Update: Updating Cambodia's Rural Roads Policy
SEACAP Programme Update: Sustainable Rural Roads Access in Lao PDR
UWABA seek support for Cycling Information Centre in Dar es Salaam
World Bank – A Decade of Transport in Action
New Rural Transport Blog
PNG Network for Rural Transport and Development new newsletters online
Improving Access to Markets and Services in Bhutan
Awareness Programme on Rural Transport for Heads of Local Government bodies in Sri Lanka
Gender Focus for the Village Bicycle Project in Ghana
UWABA seek advice on cycle-friendly road planning
Linking Poverty Reduction and Road Management in Ethiopia
Cuba Meeting Highlights Practical Rural Transport Initiatives
Outcomes of the Africa Transport Safety Conference
Rural Transport Safety - Time for a Broader Debate?
New publication on NMTs in Benin now online
New Strategic Plan 2006-2012 for the Network for Animal Traction and Integrated Development in Guinea
A Quiet Revolution in Bangladesh
Training Workshop - Appropriate Technology Road Works for Enhanced Livelihoods
Children, Mobility and Transport in Sub-Saharan Africa
Bearing the Milk Burden
23rd World Road Congress
Women, Development and Transport in Rural Eastern Cape, South Africa
Rural Transport Safety Studies- call for participation
The Makete Approach: From Pilot Project to Policy Impact and Institutionalisation
id21 insight on Rural Transport and the MDGs
Call for Expressions of Interest in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos
Course on Non-motorised transport
Workshop in South Africa
Support for Mojo Horse Cart Owners Association in Ethiopia
Post-disaster Guidelines launched by LFRTD
Forum News 12.2: Community Participation and Transport
Ngware Bicycle Taxi Group, Kisumu, Kenya