Rural Roads and
Where are we
To answer the question we need to
understand the dynamic tension between
the achievements of the rural transport
sector and the challenges it increasingly
Achievements can be illustrated by a
number of projects: in ITT’s case I am
using the Roads 2000 Programme in
Nyanza (GOK and Swedish Sida).
The rights-based approach in Nyanza
• Emphasises the communities’ right to a
voice; of access; to information; of future
generations; to work; to minimum
standards; to equal opportunities; to equal
pay for equal work; of user to protection.
• MST project in Ghana and Roads Plus
project in Nepal are similar and illustrate
the roads + “add-ons” approach to rural
• The more we raise expectations of what a
road + “add-ons” can do the greater the
tension we create with current
development trends as set out in the Paris
Declaration on Aid Effectiveness i.e. the
promotion of greater ownership,
alignment, harmonisation, management
for results, and mutual accountability.
• We can identify four areas of tension:
Development partner tensions
• Greater ownership, alignment and harmonisation
reduces the “add-on” interest of bilaterals (they
become silent partners).
• Results management means decisions are
increasingly made on financial and economic
grounds (and favour larger projects!).
• Roads with “add-ons” becomes an unnecessary
complication to a straight forward financial decision.
• Greater accountability enhances the trend to
Direct/Multi-donor Budget Support.
• Consequently, rural transport interventions are falling
off the agenda (as happened with MDGs).
• The Road Fund model is the sustainability norm
for the sector. But:
– Income (fuel levy) is regarded by politicians and
stakeholders as a tax as a result there will never be
enough for maintenance,
– Maintenance definitions and strategies will follow
politics/votes and favour the national trunk roads,
– Sector ministries are reluctant to decentralise
decision making and finances.
• Rural roads do not carry enough traffic to be
tolled or taxed.
• Decentralisation is seen to be part of a
governance agenda and as a threat to rural
transport sector stakeholders.
• Transport sector priorities are not appreciated
by local authorities/communities.
• Transport network integrity can be
• Rural districts/communities are not seen as
having sufficient skills and resources to carry
any weight in road transport terms.
Rural Development Tensions
• Rural roads and transport are an
expensive service which has to be paid
• There are no subsidies for rural transport
• Engineering standards and community
expectations are too high for level of
transport services generated by most rural
• Have rural road/transport projects become
• Where is the institutional home of rural
roads and transport?
• Do bilaterals still have a role to play in
• What should our advocacy strategy be?