This cross-sectional study of rural communities in the Northern and Copperbelt Provinces of Zambia undertaken in March 2000, draws on participatory livelihood analysis to reveal that transport constraints, and their impact on rural livelihoods and service provision are of a high priority for the rural poor. Transport emerged as a serious constraint, particularly with regard to the impact of poor accessibility and mobility on food security, agricultural marketing and ability to pay for health and education.
The livelihood constraints experienced by the rural poor in both Copperbelt and Northern Provinces proved to be far reaching. The outcome of the livelihood analysis pointed towards inadequate transport infrastructure and transport service provision as the principle constraints to effective income generation. In addition, the poor state of the roads combined with the inadequate transport services have an adverse impact on access to the already costly rural health centres and basic schools.
A poor transport network is shown to compound the subsistence
burden in Zambia. Rural farmers are unable to transport their agricultural outputs for sale at the market without a considerable capital outlay with which to purchase an intermediate mode of transport, such as a bicycle, or animal cart. Subsequently, it becomes necessary for farmers to sell or barter produce at a much reduced price to traders, or pay excessive transport fees in order to generate any surplus capital with which to pay for health care, and education.
The field study revealed that the rural poor in both Northern and Copperbelt
Provinces have very little scope to adopt transport based strategies with which to markedly improve their livelihood potential. There is clearly a strong demand for transport interventions with which to undertake marketing activities and access basic services, be they efficiently managed, and moderately priced transport services, or non-motorised intermediate modes.
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