Phase 1 (Apr-Sep 2012) of the project aimed to develop and test a methodology to acquire the information required to develop indicators. In April, the team met to plan the research framework and participative survey methodology. The project team used the following criteria:
- Information is collected from a range of users (balanced for gender). Interviews are held with people who have used transport services in relation to agriculture, health, education and economic activities. Elderly and disabled people and those responsible for children are interviewed to learn of their particular transport issues.
- Operators (and/or owners) of each mode of transport service are interviewed. Information can also be collected concerning fares, frequencies, reliability, predictability, seasonality, safety, security and freight transport.
- Local regulating authorities and/or competent individuals are interviewed about compliance with technical, financial, operational, safety and environmental regulations. People with knowledge of the road and the appropriate sector are interviewed to assess how the road contributes to key development issues. These include agriculture, trade facilitation, health, maternal health, HIV/Aids, education, gender, disability, information technologies (including mobile phones), cultural heritage and the environment. Traffic counts are undertaken and all data is geo-referenced.
Initial surveys were carried out on six roads in Tanzania and Kenya. Survey questions were adjusted in the light of experiences. The diversity of transport modes, the complexity of operational arrangements and the fluctuating nature of the services added to the challenges of the participatory survey methodology. The key survey information is summarised in eight tables. Four tables summarise most of the statistics considered relevant for subsequent indictor development. These include key statistics about the road, traffic and transport services patterns, key operational statistics and user satisfaction.
Developing data entry and analysis system to automatically generate the summary tables proved very challenging. The process is complicated because much data is disaggregated for gender, several transport modes and road seasonality (four categories). A provisional analysis framework has been developed as an Excel spreadsheet.
The team now wishes to make the data entry, analysis and presentation system more robust and user-friendly so that it facilitates the whole survey methodology. They propose that Phase 2 should be a six-month programme in which members of the current team (with technical advice and support) first optimise the data entry and analysis systems. They will then undertake two cycles of surveys, data analysis and rigorous reviews of the methodology and the software effectiveness. These will take place in Kenya, Tanzania and Cameroon where team members are based. The emerging indicator statistics and road reports will be discussed with users, operators, regulators, development personnel and transport authorities to learn which indicator statistics appear most relevant and meaningful. Guidelines will be produced for the information gathering and analysis processes. These will enable further testing of the survey methodology and analysis systems which should eventually lead to an internationally-accepted system for measuring rural transport services.