The project is a five-year research programme funded by DFID, the aim of which is to generate evidence to support increased access to transport services and support safer, lower carbon transport in low income countries in Africa and South Asia. Given the range of subject areas which Commonwealth Scholarships cover, in addition to their geographical spread, and in many cases their direct experience in the transport sector, Commonwealth Scholars and Alumni were approached to participate in the project.
Transport plays a key role in reducing isolation and poverty and in encouraging economic activity. Good transport links can increase national and international trade, helping to grow national income, and in turn lead to greater economic and social development. Because of this, the transport sector often receives a significant proportion of aid and public funds. However, high quality research in this area is limited, and the evidence base for large investment decisions is often out of date and overgeneralised.
As part of the project, our Scholars and alumni were asked to input into the theme of ‘Gender, vulnerable groups and inclusion’. This theme looked at the ways different groups use transport and the importance of being mindful of this when planning transport systems. Women, for example, tend to make more frequent short journeys during off-peak hours and have less access to private transport. They are also more vulnerable to harassment. The needs of disabled people are also often overlooked, which excludes large numbers of people from a vital service and lifeline. The consultation resulted in a briefing document on Disability Inclusive Public Transport which is available for download at: bit.ly/39MHIuO