The Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) faces a big challenge in fulfilling one of its key developmental goals, which is reducing poverty in rural areas by facilitating improved access to economic and social services for rural communities. One of the limiting factors to achieving this goal is the lack of appropriate technical standards, specifications and design guidelines for low volume rural roads.
For this reason, the Asia component of ReCAP, AsCAP, supports the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD), through the provision of support for the development of guidelines, standards and technical specifications for low volume rural roads (LVRR) in Afghanistan.
The project commenced on the 16th September 2019, has a 33-week duration, and is scheduled for completion by the end of April 2020. The key activities in the work programme include the organisation of two stakeholder workshops. The first workshop was organised in November 2019. Its objectives were to present to the project key stakeholders the inception report and a draft Table of Contents of the design guidelines in order to obtain their views, in particular on the scope of the guidelines. The stakeholders were also asked to agree on the style of the guidelines and the type of printing and binding.
Key points that were brought up during the workshop included the following:
- The GIRoA is a committed to develop 17,000km of rural roads, and these are the main target for the LVR guidelines. The guidelines will also be applicable to the existing 76,000km of developed rural roads, particularly the unpaved standard.
- Stakeholders emphasised that the guidelines should take account of labour-based methods of road provision. In this respect, training contractors and the community on labour-based methods should be appropriately considered whilst drafting the guidelines.
It is important that information on the physical environment, including soils and climate, aggregated to zones, are appropriately taken into account to ensure the guidelines are tailored accordingly. As an example, freeze-thaw conditions should be covered in the design of pavements. Local intelligence from MRRD will be of key importance to the tailoring of the guidelines to the specific circumstances present in various parts of the country.
A suitable rural road classification system should be defined, taking into account aspects such as, surface type, traffic, level of service, etc. The guidelines will be applicable to current Secondary Roads classification with traffic volumes and loading that correspond to the comparable Low Volume Rural Roads (LVRR) category.
Drainage structures should be designed for the next road class up. In particular, cross-culverts should be designed such that their span across the carriageway, is sufficient to accommodate future upgrading and/or widening of roads without the need for demolition and/or reconstruction works.
The discussions during the workshop also highlighted the importance of the appropriate identification of the users of the guidelines and the need for the guidelines to be understandable to practitioners working across rural/remote areas of Afghanistan.
A next workshop is proposed to take place in Malawi, where the Afghan delegates would be able to learn from the local experience of rural roads that have been designed based on LVR standards.