Why Bridges?

Rural community members often live in a walking world. When the rivers swell, walks to school, work or visits to a doctor can become life threatening without a bridge to cross.

Those who survive often do not have sufficient infrastructure servicing their communities. Safe and maintained trails and footbridges are necessary to live healthy and productive lives.

UN Millennium Development Goals

The United Nations developed eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to combat worldwide poverty. They include halving extreme poverty, providing universal primary education, and improving child and maternal health, among others.

Improving access through safe infrastructure improvement is interwoven with poverty reduction. Every effort to improve people’s lives relies on their ability to access services. This is particularly true in rural areas – the UN estimates that 21% of people in the developing world live at or below $1.25 a day.

 

The Role of Transport in the Millennium Development Goals

The relationship between transport and poverty is not always explicitly acknowledged; more often than not, it is implicitly assumed in the need to create greater access to employment opportunities, educational and health facilities, agricultural development, social inclusion and networking. It is this cross sectoral nature that makes transport investment such a critical catalyst in the realization of the Millennium Development Goals.

At the Millennium Summit September 2000, the states of the United Nations agreed upon the MDG as a framework for measuring development progress. The goals focus the efforts of the world community on achieving significant, measurable improvements in people’s lives, establishing yardsticks for measuring results, not just for developing countries but for rich countries that help to fund development programs and for the multilateral institutions that assist in their implementation.

Despite the pervasive influence of transport on the efficiency and effectiveness of other sectors, its contribution to economic growth, and its significance in terms of government and donor spending (transport is the largest sector in EU and World Bank operations), the MDG make scant reference to its importance in the development process. Where reference is made, for example below in a 2004 MDG Needs Assessment by the Millennium Project, the understanding of the role transport plays in development is weak and focuses on roads at the expense of understanding the more complex demands of improving mobility and access.

If we look in even greater depth at each of the MDGs in turn, the catalytic role of transport becomes even clearer.

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