The 'Interactions: Maintenance-Provision of Access for Rural Transport Services (IMPARTS)' research project is studying how investments in low-volume rural road (LVRR) construction (provision) and maintenance (preservation) affect rural transport services (RTS). The provision-preservation-services continuum is central to the ReCAP strategy to improve rural access in partner countries. While improved rural transport services are vital for access to markets, health facilities and education, and for greater equity, and are often a stated justification for investments, few road authorities collect and use information about rural transport services.
The project objective is to undertake research to gain, and to disseminate, a greater understanding of how investments in LVRR impact rural transport services and the mobility of people and goods. The project will research changes in RTS occurring as a consequence of investments in road rehabilitation, upgrade and maintenance, or deterioration in road condition due to inadequate maintenance. The research will also identify other (non-infrastructure) constraints to rural transport services and possible mechanisms, including organisation and funding, for improving RTS.
Photo: P. Starkey, 2018
Methodology and phasing
Phase 1 (c. 7 months) will involve a literature review and scoping discussions with ReCAP and other partners (including an inter-regional workshop) to find existing evidence and data sets showing how RTS have responded to road investments (and road deterioration).
Phase 2 (c. 8 months) will involve data collection in selected ReCAP countries to gather further evidence on how RTS have responded to changes in road condition, and how this has affected rural communities. Information will also be gathered on other constraints to RTS (and how RTS operators perceived things could be improved).
Phase 3 (c. 5 months) will gain information, through literature review and stakeholder consultations, on potential ways in which rural transport services could be improved, and the funding and organisational implications of this.
The immediate beneficiaries will be the road and transport authorities in ReCAP and other countries, who will have better tools and guidelines to ensure their roads are 'fit-for-purpose' for rural transport services. The long-term beneficiaries will be the rural people who will benefit from better transport services operating on 'fit-for-purpose' rural roads.
The key output will be guidelines to assist the planning and implementation of LVRR investments and the improvement of the provision-preservation-access continuum of rural road transport. These are likely to include key transport services data that should be collected and used in the planning and prioritisation of rural roads. Other outputs will include journal articles and workshop presentations.
Through the envisaged improvements in RTS, the outcome should be improved accessibility and mobility for rural communities leading to poverty reduction and improved rural lives and livelihoods.
Project Resources and Reports
Approaching Rural Road Investment with a Transport Services Perspective (paper presented at 26th PIARC World Road Congress 2019)
Project team details
Paul Starkey, IMPARTS Team Leader
Robin Workman, Senior Researcher