Enhancing Rural Transport Connectivity to Regional and International Transport Networks in Asia and the Pacific

image of Enhancing Rural Transport Connectivity to Regional and International Transport Networks in Asia and the Pacific

Rural transport is a lifeline for roughly 50% of the world’s population. It supports the movement of essential goods into rural areas, such as inputs to agricultural production, as well as the movement of goods out of rural areas, such as food and forestry products heading for urban markets. Improving rural connectivity is a concern not only of local level government, but also those agencies responsible for national, state and other transport network levels. In view of ESCAP’s historical involvement in regional transport agreements, the Ministerial Conference on Transport at its third session in 2016 mandated the ESCAP secretariat to develop a policy framework to improve rural transport connectivity to these regional networks. Against this background, this publication aims to stimulate a wider discussion on what governments can do to enhance rural transport connectivity to higher level networks, and in doing so, thereby make their rural transport networks more effective conduits for socioeconomic development. The study has provided a conceptual framework for rural transport connectivity, described the concepts about the “vertical” connectivity, rural transport connectivity within planning and policy frameworks, the concept of hierarchy from "Growth Point" to "Rural Hub", rural infrastructure connectivity policies, institutional aspects and the concept of integrating connectivity into the investment prioritization process as well as the need for measuring and monitoring rural transport connectivity. The study has provided a few recommendations including to increase investment in rural transport connectivity, including rural transport services and transport nodes, strengthen rural road asset management, increase efforts to monitor rural transport connectivity, including the data for use of the Rural Access Index, Strengthen inter-departmental coordination, Improve coordination between international organizations, governments and other stakeholders as well as to strengthen research on the rural transport.



Rural infrastructure connectivity policies

The target of rural transport policies in most developing countries is infrastructure development. The emphasis of rural infrastructure development policies has evolved over time, with a shift from large-scale road construction programmes in the 1950s and 60s, to integrated rural development approaches in the 1970s and 80s, to more targeted road development projects in the 1990s. In line with governance trends in the 1990s, many countries began to systematically decentralize part of their infrastructure budgets to local governments. In response, countries started to adopt the Integrated Rural Accessibility Planning (IRAP) tool developed by the International Labour Organisation, which emphasized a more participatory approach to rural infrastructure development which reflected local people’s priorities as much as the governments (see, for example, Nepal’s experiences in Donnges, Ojha and Pearse, 2005). The 2000s saw a return to large-scale, national government-driven rural road programmes, such as the Pradhan Mantri Gran Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) programme in India.


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