Transport challenges faced by disabled road users in Uganda. Photo: Wasike Yusuf Arby / SEI.

The aim of the needs assessment was to determine the main challenges transport planners and decision-makers encounter in meeting the mobility needs of disadvantaged groups in the four project countries of Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia. It also examined the awareness of the risks that climate change poses to the transport system, and the consideration given to climate resilience. In addition, the study took the opportunity to gather evidence from additional Western, Eastern and Southern African countries by including the results of a regional survey in this assessment.

The assessment does not claim to provide a comprehensive overview of the situation in each African country. However, this broad sample does highlight common challenges encountered by disadvantaged groups, transport planners and decision-makers in the current transport planning process.

Approach and findings

The assessment used a mixed-method approach consisting of a regional survey (135 participants), national focus groups (55) and stakeholder interviews (51), covering the countries. Based on the feedback received, a number of common challenges have been identified. These are:

  • non-existent or inadequate policy and practice, and poor policy implementation to meet the mobility needs of disadvantaged groups;
  • differing perceptions between transport planners and disadvantaged groups on the effectiveness of transport planning and policy;
  • poor opportunity for engagement of disadvantaged groups in the transport planning process; and
  • low priority given to climate risk and resilience.

On the strength of these, the following common needs can be identified, which will have to be addressed if the four countries are to achieve an inclusive climate-resilient transport system:

  • First, there is a need for transport planners and decision-makers to understand better the mobility challenges faced by disadvantaged groups, especially walking and public transport use. This will require the institutional capacity to engage and respond to disadvantaged groups. Appropriate engagement tools and procedures are required to ensure disadvantaged groups are involved in the entire transport planning process. This should be from the beginning of the process, as well as in the evaluation and monitoring of policies, in order to assess the short- and long-term impacts of transport policies on inclusion and service provision.
  • Second, greater awareness is needed of the potential impact of climate on the transport sector and how to make transport infrastructure more resilient. This will require enhancing the capacity of transport planners to understand the climate risk to transport, and the measures that can be taken to improve the resilience of transport infrastructure (e.g. undertaking vulnerability and risk assessments). In addition, it would also require the availability of financial resources and priority to be given to investing in adapting transport infrastructure to future climate change. This will be important in order maintain levels of non-motorized transport (NMT) use.

Way forward

The findings of the needs assessment will inform the next stage of the research project, which aims to provide a Guidance Framework to support inclusive climate-resilient transport planning in Africa for transport planners, decision-makers and representatives of disadvantaged groups.

Funding

This needs assessment is part of a research project entitled “Inclusive Climate-Resilient Transport Planning in Africa”. The overall objective of this project is to understand how the voice of disadvantaged groups can be better integrated in the transport planning process in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) in Africa.

In particular, the project examines how the mobility needs of low-income disadvantaged groups can be met in a changing climate, and how transport infrastructure can be made climate-resilient.

The research is funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) through the High Volume Transport (HVT) Applied Research Programme (2017– 2023), which is managed by IMC Worldwide Ltd (IMC) . It is being undertaken in collaboration with the Zambia Road Safety Trust , local consultants in Uganda and with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Share the Road Programme’s  “Investing in Walking and Cycling Policies in African Cities” project.