SUSTRAN #20: Profile of IFRTD- Nov 1996
Sustainable Transport Action Network for Asia & the Pacific (SUSTRAN)
c/- AP2000, PO Box 12544, 50782 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Phone: +60 3 255 9122 ext. 2440, Fax: +60 3 253 2361
6 Nov. 1996
SUSTRAN FLASH #20: PROFILE OF THE INTERNATIONAL FORUM FOR RURAL TRANSPORT
AND DEVELOPMENT (IFRTD)
Apologies for the long delay since the last SUSTRAN Flash.
Although SUSTRAN has often focused on urban issues, this time we present a
profile of the rural-focused IFRTD, which is a sister network to SUSTRAN
and also a great inspiration to us.
The International Forum for Rural Transport and Development is a global
network of people and organisations interested in promoting a broader
approach to meeting the transport needs of rural people. Conventional
approaches to rural transport have concentrated on investing in roads and
motorised systems. Many villages in the South are not part of road
networks. Even where there are links, villagers often cannot afford
motorised transport. Therefore goods and persons are mainly transported on
foot. These transport constraints hamper agricultural production and
restrict rural development.
The broader approach promoted by the Forum focuses on:
the introduction and dissemination of intermediate means of transport (eg.
bicycles, pack animals, wheelbarrows, low cost motor vehicles, etc.) to
fill the gap between walking and motorised modes.
improvement of local transport infrastructure such as paths, tracks,
footbridges, rural roads and riverways using local resources and labour
expansion of appropriate rural transport services which can provide options
for the rural population who can rarely afford purchasing their own means
the increased use of an integrated planning approach to rural transport
problems, incorporating the choice between interventions in the transport
system to facilitate mobility and location or the upgrading of services and
The Forum expects to see this approach adopted by policy makers in national
governments, bilateral and multilateral donor agencies and in local and
international development organisations. It hopes to influence these
agencies to use more realistic planning approaches. It does this through
gathering and sharing information, through networking and through acting as
a pressure group to raise the awareness of issues relating rural transport.
It also identifies gaps in research and training and promote members to
carry out activities that will bridge these gaps.
IFRTD started its activities in 1992 with the financial support of NORAD,
CIDA, SDC and SIDA. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the
Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG) shared the activities of
the Secretariat. During the initial phase the Forum concentrated on
establishing the network by identifying interested individuals and
organisations and encouraging the formation of national networks (or
National Forum Groups).
Today the Forum has approximately 800 members on its mailing list and a
full time Secretariat hosted by ITDG and located in ITDG's offices in
London. The Secretariat is supported by an Advisory Committee comprising
the founder members, representatives of donors and representatives of
National Forum Groups.
National Forum Groups are country networks working towards achieving the
objectives of the Forum at a national level. Members are drawn from a wide
range of organisations and disciplines. They include representatives of
government agencies. multilateral or bilateral projects, universities and
local and international NGOs. Core members of the National Forum Groups
meet regularly to plan and implement joint activities.
National Forum Groups in the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Kenya have begun
to implement a range of joint activities. In the Philippines the National
Forum Group is working towards developing a body of information on rural
transport and development through applied research. It is developing a
library of rural transport and development concerns and strengthening the
network of individuals, professionals and teaching and training
institutions who have expressed keen interest in rural transport and
development. Members of the network have begun two research studies - one
on the evolution of the tricycle as a major transport service in rural
areas and the other on indigenous modes of transport in the rural areas.
In Sri Lanka the National Forum Group is planning a regional seminar. The
theme of the seminar will be the use of intermediate means of transport for
the provision of transport services in rural areas. One of the objectives
of this seminar is to identify the social, economic, political and cultural
reasons for the prevalence of a variety of intermediate means of transport
in different contexts in Asia. The Group is looking for potential
participants in the Seminar. Please write to them if you think you can
provide a case study for the Seminar. The Sri Lankan National Forum Group
is also working with a rural community to assist them run a community
managed bus. The National Forum Group sees this as a pilot scheme that
will generate valuable lessons for replication with other communities in
the country. A third Sri Lankan initiative is a comparative study of three
different modes of passenger transport - the two wheel tractor trailer, a
used van and the motor cycle trailer.
National Forum Groups are also being formed in Malawi, Zimbabwe and Uganda
(in Eastern and Southern Africa) and in Bangladesh, Nepal, Laos in Asia.
If you would like to form a National Forum Group in your country please
contact the Secretariat for guidelines for the formation of national forum
The Secretariat of IFRTD exists to carry out activities that will increase
information sharing among members of the network and promote joint
activities on issues of concern. There are three people in the
Secretariat: Ms Priyanthi Fernando is the Executive Secretary, Mr Niklas
Sieber is the Deputy Executive Secretary and Ms Ana Bravo is the
The Secretariat produces a quarterly newsletter called the Forum News. The
next issue of the Forum News (December 1996) will have as its theme, water
transport. It will be followed by an issue on donor initiatives in rural
transport, an issue on bicycles, on institutional frameworks for
implementation of rural transport, and on maintenance. The Forum News goes
out free to Forum members.
The Secretariat will soon produce a select bibliography of published and
unpublished information on rural transport issues. Experts in ten selected
areas will identify key documents and annotate them. The publication will
be distributed to Forum members.
The Secretariat is organising an international research programme on gender
and transport. The aim of this programme is to carry out a gender analysis
of the impact of transport and 'non-transport' interventions that have
helped overcome the access and mobility constraints of rural people. The
Secretariat would like people who have been working on projects to
participate in this programme and is looking for a range of activities from
Eastern and Southern Africa and South and South East Asia. The programme
will culminate in two regional workshops at the end of 1997. Once
researchers have been identified the Secretariat will organise two meetings
that will bring the researchers together to develop a common analytical
The Secretariat will also like to hear from other people and organisations
what they feel are the knowledge gaps in promoting rural transport in
their countries. The Secretariat has a commitment to promote research on
rural transport issues. The Secretariat is collaborating with IT
Publications in investigating the potential for producing a journal on
rural transport. A workshop on integrated rural accessibility planning is
also planned for 1997.
IFRTD may be contacted at:
The Forum Secretariat
c/o Intermediate Technology
150 Southampton Row
London WC1B 5AL
tel: +44 171 278 3670
fax: +44 171 278 6880