Assessing the impact of track construction for motorbike taxis

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Krijn Peters project£150,000 ESRC/DFID grant awarded to Dr Krijn Peters (Department of Political and Cultural Studies) to carry out research entitled 'At the end of the feeder road: assessing the impact of track construction for motorbike taxis on agrarian development in Liberia'.

Some of the world’s poorest people are found in isolated African villages. Lacking market access, rural producers typically earn little from whatever they produce, perpetuating subsistence production. Even though farmers may be willing to produce more for markets, better road infrastructure is a pre-condition for agricultural development, but is not forthcoming in light of the small volumes that are actually traded.

Road building/repair budgets in development countries are often directed at paved multi-lane roads linking provincial towns with the capital or major ports.  It is unclear how far this prioritisation is successful in stimulating cash-crop production in more isolated rural areas. Arguably, attention should be directed to addressing the basic isolation of small-scale producers through building many more low-cost track-ways adapted to the use of hand carts, bicycles or motorcycles. However, international donors and governments are reluctant to invest in track-construction, as there is little data on its impact, as compared to conventional road building.

Dr Krijn PetersDr Krijn Peters (pictured left) was awarded a £150,000 ESRC/DFID Poverty Alleviation Research Grant to look at the impact of track construction in war and Ebola affected Liberia.  Together with academic partners in the Netherlands, a development and infrastructure construction agency Cardno, and a Liberian NGO, his study aims to understand the impact that motorbike navigable track/trail construction from farmstead to village/road/market has on lifting smallholder farmers out of poverty by reducing costs to produce for markets, as compared to more conventional four wheel accessible feeder road construction; to study the socio-economic impact of improved access and mobility through the construction of conventional rural feeder roads, as compared to 2-wheel accessible only tracks, on rural men, women and youth; and to document the level and nature of, and issues arising from, community involvement in the decision-making process for the construction of conventional feeder roads and 2-wheel accessible tracks.