An investigation into the impact of transport investments on poverty reduction in the Birim North District

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The popularity of the road transport sector in the country as an agent of growth and change is evident from the primacy its investments command in most government portfolios. In order to establish the object of these investments the specific impact should be established. This study is an attempt in that direction using the Birim North District of the Eastern Region of Ghana as a case. The objective of the study was to investigate the impact of road investment on poverty reduction in the Birim North District. The key research issue emanating from the study objective is the complexity of the impact of road investments on poverty reduction. In order to investigate these impacts the “with” and “without” scientific inquiry approach was adopted and used. Under this approach, five roads were chosen and studied. Three of these roads identified as experimental or “with” road investments were taken as the experimental roads. These were: Noyem-Amuana Praso, Ayirebi-Abenase and Adawsena-Ntronang. The control roads or the “without” roads were Ayirebi-Adubiase and Abenase-Adwobue. Data collection tools used included household surveys, traffic surveys, vehicle operators and passengers’ survey, focus group discussions, opinion leaders’ interviews and market surveys. Two stages of analyses were used to assess the impact of road investments on the selected variables. These are: • A descriptive presentation of the variables selected along the experimental and control roads; and • Inferential statistical tests of selected means under accessibility, mobility and poverty indicators. The major findings of the study are summarized as follows: • On the average, the value of farm produce increases by 60% along the experimental road as it moves from the farm gate to the urban markets whereas control roads increases by only 44%; • Higher costs of transport along the control roads to health facilities and urban markets. For example, it costs an average of ¢13,000.00 and ¢19,500.00 respectively to travel to health facilities and urban markets along the control roads. In contrast, it costs ¢8,200.00 and ¢12,800.00 to make the same trips along experimental corridors; • Households along experimental road corridors made seven extra trips every month than those along the control roads; and • The average travel times for such long distance trips along experimental roads was 26 minutes while it takes about 18 minutes to obtain a vehicle. On the other hand, average travel time for long distance trips along control roads was 62.5 minutes and time taken to obtain vehicle was 45 minutes. The inferential statistics, on the other hand, confirmed the significance of the differences in the cost of transports to health and urban markets, household long distance trips, travel and waiting times, along the experimental and control road corridors. The study could not, however, confirm the direct impact of transport investments on farm gate prices and household incomes and expenditure. This could be attributed to the fact that farm gate prices were fixed by market women from outside the communities visited without consideration to the nature of road while household incomes depended on the type of employment. The recommendations made to ensure a greater impact of transport investments on the poor include the following: • Poverty focused road investments must make use of the poverty maps initiated by the GTZ in order to identify the location of the poor and design road projects to benefit them directly. There should therefore be collaboration between the Department of Feeder Roads, the District Assembly and the GTZ; • There should also be complementary investments in both motorized and non-motorized transport services alongside those made in road infrastructure; • The District Assembly must be encouraged to rehabilitate and maintain feeder roads to enhance the linkage between the production and market centers within the District; • Adoption of the Farm Road Concept and community involvement in farm road maintenance; and • There must be complementary investments and support for other productive sectors such as agriculture, commerce-service and small scale industrial activities. This study concludes that, in order to enhance the impact of transport investment on the poor, all efforts must be made to identify the poor, their location and the nature of their poverty in order to design road transport projects to target them.
A Thesis submitted to the Department of Planning, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy, 2005