It is increasingly recognised that one of the significant challenges is to ensure greater involvement of communities and users in the design, operation and management of transport infrastructure and services. This is connected to:
- Increasing decentralisation to local authorities of the management and maintenance of basic infrastructure such as local and community roads.
- Growing desire to integrate rural and community development with communities' daily lives through integrated planning and rural development approaches.
- The rise of labour-based methods as part of the toolkit for road construction and maintenance requiring enhanced methods to involve and engage communities in their own infrastructure needs.
- Enhanced focus on the poverty-reduction and social development benefits of transport infrastructure especially in contexts where traffic volume alone does not capture the benefits of new investment or allow prioritisation.
There is a need to develop robust approaches to community involvement and participation within the transport sector. Significant effort and developments has been focused on low-volume rural roads and community access. This could be partly driven by:
- the need to justify and prioritise investments on the basis of factors other than traffic volume,
- the small size of individual communities that need to be consulted and
- the inter-connection with participatory practices in other areas of rural development (such as agriculture, water or forestry) with which community infrastructure has become linked