Safe and sustainable transport for rural communities
Safe and sustainable transport for rural communities

Further to the collaboration between the World Bank and the UK aid-funded Research for Community Access Partnership (ReCAP) programme on the Rural Access Index (SDG indicator 9.1.1), we now have the pleasure of rolling out the Rural Access Index (RAI) Supplemental Guidelines, produced by the TRL team, in partnership with the World Bank. The Guidelines can be found here.

The Supplemental Guidelines contain detailed, step-by-step procedures for calculation, documentation and publication of the RAI for a country. They follow the key tenets of the 2016 World Bank methodology captured in the report "Measuring Rural Access: Using New Technologies", emphasising the involvement of National Statistical Offices (NSOs) and government agencies in the process, and providing transparency and consistency in how the RAI is calculated.

The RAI project has been an overwhelming success among ReCAP's strong portfolio of activities. Thanks to the research, the indicator was promoted from Tier III to Tier II in the UN categorisation; Robin Workman and Kevin McPherson's paper on the RAI recently won a prize for sustainable development by the UK National Committee of the World Road Association (WRA); but most importantly, the initiative is making real progress towards the UN global Sustainable Development Goals. 

In addition, ReCAP commissioned Azavea to produce a proof of concept for the RAI Measurement Tool, which is available via: The tool displays the RAI for all countries globally on an interactive geospatial map, based on three open datasets: OpenStreetMap, WorldPop and GRUMP. It also compares in-country data with the open datasets for three sample countries (Malawi, Nepal and Myanmar).

Figure 1 - Screenshot of the RAI measurement tool developed by Azavea

The ReCAP, Azavea and TRL teams will be in Washington DC during the week of 13th January, attending the SuM4All consortium meeting and Transforming Transportation (TT20). ReCAP will have an exhibition stand during TT20, at which we shall be providing demonstrations of the RAI Measurement Tool. We are pleased to invite you to meet the team and learn more.

The RAI Supplemental Guidelines and Measurement Tool is useful to anyone involved in GIS mapping, calculating SDG indicators, and planning and prioritisation of rural roads. The by-products of the geospatial methodology for RAI are potentially important for future rural development planning and road network planning, and the methods and tools provided in the Guidelines and online tool are freely available for donor partners, road agencies and NSOs to utilise.

The outcomes of this project will support progression of SDG indicator 9.1.1 to Tier I status, by establishing the RAI in at least 50% of UN countries by 2025. 

ReCAP is furthermore implementing another project to explore the suitability of SDG indicator 9.1.2 'Passenger and freight volumes by mode of transport' for Rural Access, which will investigate the feasibility of adapting SDG 9.1.2 for low volume rural transport. 

For more information on the RAI work ReCAP is undertaking, please contact Dr Annabel Bradbury, Deputy Team Leader and Tr

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