2.2 Beware of the rural access index

This book examines development issues through the prism of the rural access index (RAI), which counts the proportion of the rural population that lives within two kilometres of an all-season road.

Using case studies from Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Uganda, it shows how the use of an index like the RAI can lead to a serious misallocation of resources.

The authors question the definition of 'allseason' road and the types of vehicles that travel them. Crucially the focus of RAI takes resources away from other road investments that might give a greater development return.

There is, in particular, the 'missing middle' of secondary roads. There is also a third problem. It is no secret that politicians like to build roads that benefit their constituencies, thereby distorting the development process.

With this in mind, a new set of criteria to guide decision making on roads is called for, to ensure there is real economic justification for the investment.

Issuing body: The World Bank
Type: Booklet
Status: Final
Rural road investment efficiency. Lessons from Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Uganda
File type:
File size: 4.29 MB
Year of publication: 2010
Number of pages: 128