As in many other developing countries, Tanzania’s rural residents depend heavily on low-volume roads to reach jobs, services, markets, and go about their daily lives. The transport network was conceived primarily to accommodate cars and truck when, ironically, most road users in these areas do not own a vehicle. As a result, the design of rural roads often neglects important day-to-day users, such as girls and boys walking to school, patients trying to get to a clinic, or small farmer holders transporting goods on bicycles and motorbikes. Women are particularly impacted by the situation, along with many other vulnerable user categories who don’t typically have access to motorized transport.
The consequences of unsafe, inadequate transport can be severe. For seven years, Nickson crossed the Tanzania-Zambia highway several times every day until he got hit by a car while returning home from school, causing severe damage to his leg. After the accident, Nickson’s performance at school dropped significantly due to the amount of time spent in the hospital and at home nursing his wounds. His mother, Jane, had to adjust as well. She stayed home to take care of Nickson and was not able to do any farm work, a situation that caused serious financial stress on the family. Nickson’s story is just one example of the devastating impacts that poor road design can bring to vulnerable road users, their families, and the entire community.
So, how can we turn this around and build roads that meet the needs of all users—whether they’re moving inside a vehicle, on a bike, or on their own two feet?
In Tanzania, we’re working with the government to develop an inclusive approach to road design that actively engages, includes, and protects all beneficiaries. The objective of this “People-Centered Design approach”(PCD approach) is to ensure rural road programs can work for everyone, placing an important focus on avoiding social and road safety risks. With the PCD approach, vulnerable users are not an afterthought but key factor of the process. The approach combines people-centered technical designs, consultations, and road safety audits. The PCD approach was designed and tested with three rural roads projects in the region of Iringa, Tanzania developed in preparation for the forthcoming Roads to Inclusion and Socio-economic Opportunities Program (RISE) Project.
Source: World Bank