Labour-Intensive Rural Roads in Kenya, Tanzania and Botswana: Some Evidence on Design and Practice

Labor - intensive road programs in Kenya Tanzania, and Botswana share a great deal of common features, The programs are by and large experimental and donor supported. They are small in terms of their share in total road networks and employment. They promote the twin goals of improving access roads and generating employment. Employment is open to all working adults. Wages are time rated, administratively determined, and uniform. But real wages vary across time and space, and, consequently, labor supply responses vary accordingly. Implementation of road works rests largely on public institutions, but with minimum community involvement. (Except for provision of local labor).The evolution of the programs in the 1970s and 1980s shows a pattern of convergence among the three programs in design and implementation practices. The road programs are shifting towards road maintenance, where unit cost of outputs is lower and share of labor cost is higher as compared to road construction and improvement. Such a shift promises a greater and more stable employment, and an increase in share of labor income. Tanzania and Botswana are approaching Kenya in their evolution to wards a consolidation of their road programs into a national planning framework, and setting standard guidelines and procedures in identification, implementation, and monitoring of road works. Kenya's current experiment on alternative low-cost technologies for road works (project 2000) marks an important advance that will soon have an impact on these other countries.The sustenance of these programs depends on how much they progress towards self sustenance and cost-efficiency. And as the evidence from Kenya shows, such progression needs to take into account the potential for these programs to contribute to short-term poverty reduction through asset creation with a minimum adverse effect on long-term growth. Policy makers have an important role in translating these insights and knowledge into improved policy design. Since government has and important role in such an experimental and translation process, it is crucial that it overcomes its current ambivalence forwards labor-intensive public works schemes.

Getachew, Yoseph
Gashaw, Dagnew
Kibre, Moges
Mulat, Demeke
Sentayehu, Tefera
Shiferaw, Jamo
Yusuf, Abdulahi
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Journal Article
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Ethiopian Journal of Economics, Volume 03, Number 2
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Volume III Number 2; October 1994

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