Recent studies carried out in the rural areas of developing countries have altered the way that transport planners look at rural accessibility. It is now understood that the bulk of transport requirements at the village level are for internal travel, i.e. trips to collect water and firewood, to fields, and for internal marketing. Particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, this transport is carried out on foot and by women; the use of other vehicle types, either motorised or non-motorised, is rare. However, in many parts of Asia there is a greater diversity in vehicle types which are used to reduce household transport burdens, as well as improve marketing efficiency.
The paper presents data collected in the rural areas of Thailand, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Ghana and Zimbabwe as part of a three year project looking into the problems of the provision of rural transport services in developing countries.
It is argued in this paper that the low diversity of vehicle types in Sub-Saharan Africa leads to high transport charges for rural communities. Many African countries lack the good base of non-motorised transport and simple motorised vehicles that are common in much of Asia. This technology gap hinders economic growth in rural areas because as incomes rise, or farmers are able to take advantage of improved agricultural techniques, there are no appropriate technology options with which to capitalise on the situation.
7th World Conference on Transportation Research, Sydney, Australia, July 1995. TRL - Crowthorne, UK. pp. 17