Street panorama, Kampala, Uganda

Street panorama, Kampala, Uganda. Photo: H Cambridge / SEI

Working with UN Environment Share the Road Programme, the project will raise awareness of the needs of low-income disadvantaged user groups and the effects of climate change on transport infrastructure. It aims to enhance capacity of transport planners to assess the mobility needs of disadvantaged groups in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Zambia, and Uganda.

This project is funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)’s High Volume Transport (HVT) Applied Research Programme and runs from September 2020–August 2022.

Family walking in Nairobi, Kenya

Family having to walk down busy road due to lack of adequate pavement space in Luthuli Avenue, Nairobi, Kenya. Photo: H Cambridge / SEI

The transport sector is the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gases (GHG), and a major contributor to climate change. While many low-income countries (LIC) in Africa currently have low levels of motorization, this is expected to change.

Imported new and used vehicles are increasing by 10% per year in African countries. By 2030, the African car market could reach 1.9 million units, which would represent a modest 1.8% of global sales. However, greater car use in African LIC will mean more polluting vehicle emissions.

Road transport contributes to poor air quality which has an impact on human health such as bronchitis, asthma, heart disease and brain damage. In addition, road traffic deaths are higher in Africa than in any other region of the world.

Climate change will increase the incidence of tropical cyclones, flooding and heatwaves. More extreme weather events will disrupt vital transport infrastructure, networks and services affecting the mobility of low-income disadvantaged groups (i.e. the old, disabled, young, and women).

The provision of transport infrastructure in Africa is often based on political decisions rather than being demand-driven or evidence-based. The standard response to addressing urban mobility issues has been to invest in infrastructure for motorized transport. However, this prioritization of road infrastructure leads to a vicious cycle that stimulates urban sprawl and greater car use.

Congestion at the entrance of Luthuli Avenue, Nairobi, Kenya before it was re-designed in 2019 to create more space for walking and cycling. Photo: S Cinderby / SEI

Poorly planned transport systems have negative consequences for everyone; whether they are driving a car, using public transport, walking or cycling. There is a need to ensure transport planning and decision making is not only sustainable and resilient to climate change but hears the voice of all transport users, especially low-income disadvantaged groups.

SEI is undertaking a 24 month project together with UN Environment’s (UNEP) Share the Road Programme to strengthen the technical capacity in African low income countries (LIC) to develop and implement inclusive climate resilient transport infrastructure. It links with Share the Road’s project on Investing in Walking and Cycling Policies in African Cities, a UN Development Account (UNDA) funded initiative supporting governments of Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Zambia to develop national non-motorised transport (NMT) policies that incorporate the needs of vulnerable groups.

The project will work with a network of local partners (i.e. Addis Ababa Institute of Technology, University of Cape Town, University of Rwanda and University of Zambia) and stakeholder groups in these three countries.

The estimated results of the project are increased:

  • understanding of the needs of low-income disadvantaged groups and transport, low carbon mobility and climate resilience;
  • capacity to include the voice of low-income disadvantaged groups in planning climate resilient transport infrastructure;
  • use of tools and approaches that can include the concerns of low-income Increased use of tools and approaches that can include the concerns of low-income disadvantaged groups in transport planning;
  • ability to ensure transport infrastructure is resilient to climate change; and
  • opportunity for low-income disadvantaged groups to contribute to transport planning and design.

Overall, this HVT project will contribute to meeting the mobility needs of low-income transport groups in a changing climate.

Namirembe Road, Kampala Road now has dedicated lanes for non-motorized transport (NMT). Photo: H Cambridge / SEI

The HVT project will undertake the following key activities:

  • Needs assessment of transport planners, decision-makers and transport providers in developing transport policy, planning infrastructure and offering transport services and the mobility needs of low-income or disadvantaged groups such as women, older people and the disabled in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zambia.
  • State of knowledge review of climate impacts on transport infrastructure, including adaptation efforts. An assessment of global best practice on participatory approaches tools, lessons learned and pilot projects.
  • Case study analysis of transport planning in Uganda (Kampala) and a second LIC, and application of selected tools/approaches.
  • Development of a Guidance Framework for Inclusive Climate Transport Planning in African LIC based on the evidence and practical insights gained from field data.
  • Training workshops on the Guidance Framework within Uganda, second LIC; and beyond.
  • Dissemination activities to promote the Guidance Framework in the Region.

External Collaborators

UNEP Share the Road Uganda Local Partner

Carly Gilbert-Patrick
Global transport and programme manager, transport policy and practice.

Amanda Ngabirano
Lecturer and researcher. Transport planning and mobility.