Roads, Personal Mobility and Poverty: The Challenge.


Drawing on research into rural mobility carried out in Ghana and Malawi and other field experience from Zambia, Kenya and Ghana, data is presented that demonstrates that there is a very wide range of use of motor vehicle transport for personal movement. For example, the motorised mobility rate in Kwabre in Ghana was found to be 35 trips per person per year while it was found to be less, about one tenth of a trip per person per year, in five Districts in Malawi (i.e. a 350 fold range). The evidence suggests that at current service and fare levels the poorest people can only make use of motor vehicle transport for the long distance transport of crops. In

contrast better off rural populations will make extensive use of transport services for a wide variety of social and economic purposes.

A tentative income based model of mobility is presented. It is recognised that road investments can be an expensive intervention relative to the incomes of those affected and there may be no guarantee that the poorest members of the community will benefit other than through the direct effects of transport cost savings on the economics of crop marketing. Complementary measures are required in order to increase the personal mobility of the very poor. In

order to take a more holistic approach to the alleviation of poverty through transport measures, it is suggested that direct interventions should be made to encourage the provision of transport services at low fare levels for the most disadvantaged rural communities. A possible Private-Public Partnership solution is suggested.


Transport and Poverty Alleviation Workshop, Washington D.C. 13 June 2000. TRL - Crowthorne, UK. pp. 12

Roads, Personal Mobility and Poverty: The Challenge.

Published 1 January 2000