Under the Second Road Sector Development Programme, the Ugandan Government received funding from the World Bank (WB) to upgrade 66.2 kilometers’ of road gravel section from Kamwenge to Kabarole to bituminous standards. The project began in August 2013 and is expected to end in December 2016. Expected positive impacts include improved economy through better:
Access to markets, social and health services, and employment. Once completed, the road is expected to further contribute to both macro- and micro-development by increasing productivity in the trade and tourism industries through better transportation.
Benefits of the Project
Since the start of the road construction, movement of agricultural produce to markets in Kamwenge and Kabarole has improved, thereby uplifting the socio-economic development of communities and members. Easy access to markets has greatly improved household incomes which directly translate to improved welfare of children within these households, including increased retention of children in school (parents are able to pay school fees from emoluments received from conducting businesses along the roadside). Neighbouring districts are also finding it easier to access Kamwenge district, thus improving trade relations. This finding is supported by Fan, Rao and Zhang (2004) who noted that shortened distances to feeder roads in Uganda significantly increase the agricultural labour productivity. The improved access to output markets leads to a rise in income thanks to greater opportunities of sales or higher prices.
The road project has also led to diversification of household income sources. In fact, while the majority of the poor live in rural areas where the main activity is agriculture, there is evidence that nonfarm activities are becoming a major source of income. Smith, Gordon, Meadows and Zwick (2001) show that road rehabilitation projects in Uganda have extended job opportunities in the service sector. According to that study, households affected by a road project were seen to be less likely to rely on agriculture or forestry as their main source of income and had switched to the service sector.
The project has increased women’s participation in income generating activities such as roadside retail trading or vending of food and agricultural produce, arts and crafts for travelers and road construction workers. The road labourers are key customers at Hamwaro, a night food market on the main street in Kamwenge, and bars and video halls are thriving since the project started. In Bigodi, a new active street has emerged where the labourers buy all their food and other basic needs. Engaging in small business has greatly empowered women to better look after their children in terms of education, access to health services and nutrition. Overall, household incomes have been increased by easier access to markets. This positive impact was reported by all respondents.