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Department of Anthropology

Academic Staff

Publication details for Professor Gina Porter

Porter, G., Hampshire, K., Abane, A. Robson, E. Munthali, A., Mashiri, M., Tanle, A., Maponya, A. & Dube, S. (2012). Perspectives on Young People’s Daily Mobility, Transport and Service Access in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Mobilities: new perspectives on transport and society. Grieco, M. & Urry, J. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate. 65-90.

Author(s) from Durham


Young people’s mobility challenges in Western contexts have been the focus of research for some decades, principally – but not only – with reference to the school journey. By contrast, young people’s mobility in sub-Saharan Africa is remarkably under-researched, despite the vital significance of mobility (and immobility) to so many children’s lives. This is an extremely important omission, given that over half the population of many African countries consists of children and young people. Improving mobility and access to health and education facilities for both girl and boy children has massive implications for their subsequent livelihood potential (Bartlett 2001). It is crucial to many of the Millennium Goals, notably universal primary education, promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment, and reduced child mortality (Fay et al. 2005).
In this chapter we review some of the findings from a research study centred on young people’s mobility conducted between 2006 and 2010 in three African countries, Ghana, Malawi and South Africa. This study was extensive in scale (24 sites across urban and rural locations and two different agro-ecological zones per country) and innovative in its inclusion of 70 young research collaborators aged from 11 to c.20 years (when they started work on the study), in addition to conventional academic research. Developing this two-stranded research approach and applying it across diverse countries and sites has enabled us to assemble a strong, comparative evidence base. Our aim was to establish an evidence base substantial enough not only to improve policy in our three focus countries but sufficiently compelling to contribute to a new recognition among policy makers and practitioners across Africa of the key significance of mobility and physical access to services in building young lives.