Gender and rural transport planning study in the Upper East Region of Ghana

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The study, carried out in the Upper East Region of Ghana, has the objective of determining how responsive the current state of transport provision, including conventional motorised means of transport, roads, intermediate means of transport (or IMT) and paths are in facilitating the attainment of needs of rural dwellers. The extent to which increased and varied IMT can facilitate the attainment of survival and income generating needs to positively alleviate the burden of labour placed on women and men is therefore targeted for investigation. To that purpose, market surveys and questionnaires were administered to market women and group discussions carried out in various communities to assess the burden of labour and the current method of accomplishment, whether on foot or through IMT. Once the number and type of activities requiring transport are determined, it then becomes the task to identify appropriate IMTs so as to facilitate needs. Delving into the topic, the study reveals that 80 % of basic survival needs, those of going to and from farm and collecting water and fuel wood are internal to the village and carried out on paths, almost exclusively through head-portage by women. Road use is confined to meeting only 3% of rural dwellers transport needs, specifically marketing and trading activities, which are again solely undertaken by women. Findings demonstrate that there is unequal access to both conventional and alternative means of transport, meaning IMT in the region. Although transport in the form of tro-tros and IMT’s such as donkey or bullock carts and bicycles are in use, the actual accessibility is both financially and socially restricted with certain groups experiencing privileges which are not commensurate to their daily travel and transport requirements. These existing financial and social/cultural barriers preventing males and females from experiencing the same degree of accessibility, impinges upon efficient use of resources and facilitation of needs attainment. It is therefore recommended that communal IMT initiatives be introduced to alleviate the burden of rural transport and stimulate multi-sector growth, which will directly link agricultural and rural transport provision sectors thereby providing a complementary system of growth and exchange. Institutional, community and financial constellations are suggested so as to adequately share responsibility and ensure sustainability.
A thesis submitted to the School of Graduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Master of Science degree in Development Planning and Management, 2001