Reach, Range, Reason
Global Development Network series
Edited by José María Fanelli and Lyn Squire
Chapter 9: Enhancing Income Opportunities for the Rural Poor: The Benefits of Rural Roads
Javier Escobal and Carmen Ponce This chapter analyzes the welfare effects triggered by connecting rural villages to rural and urban centers through road rehabilitation and maintenance, important elements of Peru’s Rural Roads Program. Although both Peruvian public officials and academics typically consider such programs to be successful, there is a need to document the impacts and understand the processes they trigger. What features of the program can be improved? What complementary interventions could foster more sustainable income generating opportunities and in general more inclusive social and political processes? Answering these questions requires a more thorough understanding of the causal connections underlying the welfare effects of such interventions, rather than a narrow focus on the one-dimensional outcomes typically measured in surveys. Amartya Sen refers to this broad perspective as ‘reason’, the third and most important of his dimensions of successful reform. Sen calls on researchers and policymakers to continually ask: Why we are doing this? How can we improve the actions we implement in order to achieve the goals we pursue? What should we prioritize and how can implemented actions complement each other to achieve goals more efficiently? We believe this chapter contributes to this line of analysis. A country’s rural road network is typically made up of tracks, trails, footpaths and dirt roads which link rural villages and towns and often connect to secondary roads, allowing residents to access markets and social services which their own communities do not provide. Tracks, trails and footpaths, defined here as ‘non-motorized roads’, ease...
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