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Department of Anthropology

Academic Staff

Publication details for Professor Gina Porter

Porter, G, Owusu Acheampong, F & Blaufuss, K (2003). Socio-economic findings of the five village study: actions research to evaluate the impact on livelihoods of a set of post-harvest interventions in Ghana's off-road settlements. Report to the UK Department for International Development, June 2003.

Author(s) from Durham


The project focusses on the problems of low productivity and associated poverty in off-road areas (ie: areas away from good paved roads). Off-road rural areas and populations are frequently markedly poorer than those in comparable roadside locations in the same region, at least in part due to problems and costs of market access. Lack of appropriate intermediate rural transport is a common cause of post-harvest loss for many poor households. Evidence of this problem was widely reported in project R7149 (which focussed on the same districts as the current proposal). Transport availability, reliability and cost were identified as major constraints on access to markets, particularly for women who undertake most of the produce marketing in Ghana. Non-motorised transport was found to consist principally of head-loading. Bicycles were few in number and almost wholy owned by men: the few hand carts in operation were also owned by men. This pattern of poor transport availability, unreliability and high cost, with consequent low usage rates, has particularly severe implications for women. They usually have less funds than men to pay transport fares or purchase vehicles or IMT of any kind, yet they generally have a major responsibility for produce evacuation and marketing in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly West Africa. Generally, the result is overwhelming dependence on headloading of produce by women, from farm to village, and onward at least as far as the nearest good paved road, with direct effects on their health and time budgets, and with consequent knock-on implications for agricultural productivity. This is a widespread and under-researched development problem. For poverty-focussed development initiatives, off-road communities - and particularly women in off-road communities - will represent an important priority, given the substantial populations resident off-road and the above-average incidence of poverty in such locations. The potential for IMT to alleviate women's transport burden is often suggested, but the difficulties and implications of adoption - in technical, socio-economic and environmental terms - are largely unexplored.