What is AFCAP?
The African Community Access Programme(AFCAP) is a research initiative using evidence to promote the development of safe, sustainable, least-cost, all-weather, locally-owned access for poor rural communities. It is a 5-year programme funded by the UK government - DFID, which commenced in June 2008. By improving rural access communities are able to reach improved health & education services, road safety measures and greater gender equality.
AFCAP is based upon portfolio of: Research & demonstration, Advisory Services and Training. The outputs from these activities feed into National Transport Policies streaming down to regional and local community level hence leading to greater poverty reduction. AFCAP works with other existing programmes funded by other development partners in each country. One of its core strategy is national ownership of the programme by each country and as such a national co-ordinator and steering group are identified by the host government to oversee the programme’s activities.
AFCAP has developed research collaboration with 8-10 African countries (currently Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana) where it funds research, knowledge-exchange and training. The programme is also supported by regional bodies such as South Africa Development Community, East African Community and Sub Saharan Africa Transport Programme.
Establishment of LVSR Research Centre at Ministry of Roads
Limited mobility for people living in rural communities in Africa restricts their access to markets and basic services, hampers poverty eradication efforts and costs countries money and lives. Research is now helping to make the efforts of government’s and their development partners to improve the access of rural African communities much cheaper, longer-lasting, less damaging to the environment and more effective in tackling poverty.
In order to improve accessibility for rural communities, KeRRA has taken initial steps in research of low volume sealed roads in Western Kenya, Nyanza - Bondo and in Muranga & Nyeri through support from donor partners i.e SIDA, AFD, DFID/AFCAP.
However lack of adequate funding and technical support has incapacitated effective research management, co-ordination and dissemination of research findings. KeRRA’s Strategic Plan 2013-2018 already identified the need for more funding for road research, as one of the mitigation measures in addressing the many challenges the organization encounters in roadwork. In response to this need, AFCAP has made a commitment to establish a major Low Volume Roads Research Centre in the Ministry of Roads at “Materials Testing & Research Department” with a complimentary but smaller research unit at KeRRA. The centres will conduct research and create awareness of recent developments in low-volume sealed road technology in Kenya and the region.
A Justification for Low-Volume Sealed Roads in Kenya
KeRRA’s Strategic Plan 2013-18, is geared to continuously upgrade the rural road network to all weather bitumen standards and improved periodic and routine maintenance due to the fact that Kenya like many developing countries is equally facing challenges of increasing life cycle costs of rural road construction and maintenance. The substantial length of un-surfaced, gravel, roads in the region is becoming unsustainable to maintain due to:
Ø strategies. logistical, technical and financial burden on most road agencies due to constraints on physical, human, financial and natural resources
Ø Requirement of continuous use of a non-renewable resource (gravel) which is being seriously depleted in many countries and, in the process, is causing serious environmental problems
Ø Implementation results of regional research justifies the sealing of gravel roads to be economically cost effective for less than 100 vehicles per day (vpd).
Ø Failure to observe the optimal timing for sealing gravel roads can be very costly to national economies, not only in terms of incurring excess transport costs but, also, in the continuing excessive maintenance burden and adverse socio-environmental effects. This provides a strong impetus for policy change and the adoption of alternative, cost-effective, surfacing of rural road network in Kenya.