Investment in rural roads is believed by many to be a solution to economic and social development problems in rural areas. This perception is indeed true as there is a link between transport and poverty that is not always acknowledged. This paper sets out to show that although theoretical and even empirical evidence is hard to come by, still investment in rural roads can be an effective weapon in our fight against poverty. This is a possible if the engineers and planners at programme and project levels meet certain preconditions. These preconditions are requiring engineers to review their design standards so as to allow the implementation of rural road infrastructure projects by labour-based construction methods. In addition engineers and planners must review their focus on roads and cars. They are challenged to look at tracks footpaths and footbridges as these provide the basic infrastructure for agricultural production on a daily basis. The paper makes it clear that rural communities place a high priority on accessibility to services and opportunities; as such investing in rural roads that provide basic access will always have a high economic impact. A range of other issues are discussed, all concerned with the poverty impact of rural roads investment. The challenge is to create an environment around these investments that will improve the income of the rural communities as well their employment prospects. Finally some recommendations on how engineers can meet this challenge are enumerated.
Finances & Economics