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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.

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Rural transport service connectivity and nodes

A diverse range of rural transport modes and services can be found in the Asia and Pacific region. In many rural areas, non-motorized transport modes, such as walking, cycling and riding animals, are still the predominant mode for first/last mile connectivity10, while human and animal traction and agricultural machinery such as tractors, are commonly used to carry agricultural produce. Informal sector entrepreneurs also provide services, including trucks, pick-ups, ‘rural taxis’, motorcycles, bicycles, and animal-drawn carts (UNCRD, 2015). In Bangladesh, China, India, Pakistan, and the countries along the Mekong River, inland water transport systems are the main mode for riverine communities. Meanwhile, for island and archipelagic countries, ports and inter-island shipping services are the main transport mode for passenger and good movements.

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