The Vital Role of Rural Transport

By Robert Petts, Rural Transport Adviser to SLoCaT Partnership and AFCAP

After over one hundred years of the motor vehicle era, we still have over a billion of the world’s population without reliable road access to markets, health education and other services, employment and other social and economic opportunities. They are mostly living in poor rural communities in developing and emerging nations, with access often severed for long periods in wet seasons. In many regions less than twenty per cent of roads are ‘all-weather’.

Fortunately, we now have the technical (and proven) means to provide year-round basic access to these communities at affordable costs and using techniques that maximise local involvement and resources, whilst being environmentally friendly. The approaches can be carbon-neutral or low-carbon and avoid the large GHG emissions that would accompany road network development and maintenance approaches commonly used by the more advanced economies. There will be substantial benefits to all communities from engaging all parties in the application of these approaches.

We have also made great advances in techniques for providing affordable, safe and appropriate transport services for poor rural communities.

It is vital that achievable Rural Transport related Targets are incorporated in the Sustainable Development Goals that support, and are supported by, the agricultural, health, education and other rural sectors, and all organisations with a serious interest in equity and REAL poverty alleviation.