Achieving pro-poor growth through investment in rural feeder roads: the role of impact evaluation

Working and discussion papers
August 2011
Christian Kingombe

With growing recognition of the links between high transport costs and poverty, there has been an increasing interest in undertaking detailed evaluations of the impact of public investment in rural roads. This begs the question: how do we identify what kind of public spending, including aid-for-trade (AfT), is most effective in reducing poverty and generating equitable agricultural growth?

It has been argued that investment in rural transport infratructure (RTI) and provision of RTI services – including rural feeder roads – could be considered pre-requisites for growth and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Despite the large amounts spent on rural roads, there is remarkably little formal evidence on their benefits to households or to enterprises. What has been lacking is a general methodology, using micro-data, to estimate these gains. This Background Note provides suggestions on what state-of-the-art AfT impact evaluations could look like, and why they should be part of a project’s design from the outset in order to improve policy conducive to achieving the MDGs.

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