Rural Transport and Development: A View of the Future from the Past
by IFRTD Regional Coordinator for East and Southern Africa, Peter
has developed a new website www.makete.org
that aims at providing a depository of knowledge on rural transport
and development. The website
provides a platform for debates and resources that can help us to
continuously reflect on the future of rural transport and its
linkages to wider development outcomes.
name of the website is inspired by the
Makete Integrated Rural Transport Project (MIRTP) which was a
pioneering pilot project that helped incubate, develop and
disseminate key insights into the state of transport and travel in a
typical rural area of a developing country.
MIRTP was implemented in the
District of Makete, Tanzania from 1985 to 1996. The project applied
an innovative action-research approach that eventually led to a
unified framework for understanding the various constraints to access
and mobility in rural areas of developing countries, and their links
to poverty. MIRTP came into being at a time when building
comparatively high standard rural access/feeder roads was seen as the
most effective way of resolving rural transport problems.
pursuit of its core mandate of networking, sharing and advancing
knowledge in rural transport and development, IFRTD, in collaboration
with the ILO and Tanzania Forum
Group, organized a workshop in October 2008, in Dar es Salaam,
Tanzania, with a view of reviewing progress made in the field of
Rural Transport since the implementation of MIRTP, and key challenges
and opportunities going into the future.
the way into the future
the last 20 years, rural transport and travel has increasingly become
established as a research policy and knowledge area within the wider
field of transportation planning.
those better acquainted in the subject area, we probably stand
accused of using the term Rural Transport rather flippantly, assuming
its meaning to be self evident. As a matter of fact, the tendency to
use the short hand “Rural Transport” – bereft of the all
essential adjunct -
– invariably invokes a meaning of rural roads construction.
is central in our view of transport is that improvements in physical
infrastructure are important but not sufficient to support the
development outcomes that are envisaged through such investments.
we continue to grow this area of transportation planning, it is
important that the linkages between transport
and development become the
center-piece of making this field a more wholesome discipline.
IFRTD and many other organizations working in this field have tried
to maintain this focus by drawing attention to linkages between
transport and poverty reduction, transport and Millennium Development
Goals, transport and health etc.
order for Rural Transport to become a more dynamic force for rural
transformation, it needs to continuously adjust to new development
challenges while being a part of new opportunities. Although Makete
gave us some enduring insights into the state of rural transport and
travel, a lot of changes have taken place globally, nationally and
sub-nationally with an impact on our notion of “rurality” and the
way development happens. The penetration of ICTs and mobile
telephony in every corner of the world has changed the reality of
remoteness and isolation. The ascendancy of the private sector as a
key service provider has accelerated the pace of low cost, efficient
transport technologies, including road construction technologies.
Globalisation and urbanization have led to among other things –
increased demand for food and horticultural products. Globalisation
has also led to a new governance architecture that demands
accountability in such areas as climate change and progress towards
achievement of MDGs.
our view that rural transport is not a concept frozen in time. It is
a dynamic paradigm that is embracing new economic and technological
innovations connecting to wider development processes taking place
locally, nationally and internationally.
welcome your contribution in terms of thought pieces, publications
and other resources that can make the Makete website a useful and
lively tool for all those committed to advance the role of rural
transport in achieving poverty eradication and sustainable