Poverty and Rural Roads

Two early career researchers from Geography and Environment (Dr. Ellie Biggs and Dr. Gary Watmough) are conducting research into the impact of rural road accessibility schemes on poverty alleviation and social dimensions in rural Nepal. The project is being jointly undertaken with Social Sciences and assistance from several in-country collaborators.

Access to a village in south Nepal;  4-5 hours walk to the nearest road.  Compared to villages located in the High Himalayan Mountains, this is reasonably good access time to markets.

Villages in mountainous regions of Nepal can be located more than 20 hours walk to the nearest major road which makes it very difficult for inhabitants to access markets, health facilities and education. Villages situated furthest from these facilities are often found to have increased levels of poverty.

Improvements in road accessibility are often associated with reductions in poverty levels in rural areas. Consequently, such benefits result in priority funding from international development agencies and investment is commonly provided as part of wider plans to improve the socioeconomic provisions of rural communities e.g. schools, healthcare, local financial initiatives.  These holistic strategies make it difficult to disaggregate the impacts of road construction on communities. Additionally, roads may bring increased prosperity for rural communities, but can also instigate hardship such as environmental degradation and human migration.

This preliminary study in Nepal is aiming to identify how road building schemes in Nepal have impacted on rural communities. GIS will be used to perform a comprehensive analysis on spatial changes in accessibility and socioeconomic conditions. Communities recently connected to the road network, and those still located in remote areas (travel by foot), will be visited and qualitative surveys conducted.  The research will contribute to a better understanding of how improved road access contributes to poverty alleviation and social change.

Nepal trip blog: http://povertyandroads.blogspot.it/p/poverty-and-roads.html
Follow us to keep updated on the research trip and subsequent project outputs.

Transport can be slow and expensive for locals.

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