n Ergonomics SA : Journal of the Ergonomics Society of South Africa - Ergonomics in the improvement of rural transport in Sub-Saharan Africa : research article

Volume 17, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1010-2728



Transport systems in industrially developing countries can not be taken for granted as in more advanced countries. Rural transport needs are rarely met by Government programmes which do not address local requirements at the community or village level. More than 30 modes of transport are used in rural sub-Saharan Africa, most of them being classified as non-motorised transport (NMTs). Human porterage dominates, usually in the form of head-loading. This is the least economically effective mode of transport, but is attractive in requiring no or minimum cash outlay. Surveys of subsistence and smallholder farmers in Kenya and Uganda have revealed almost total reliance on NMTs for crop production activities with some use of motorised modes of transport for marketing. The most attractive and feasible way of reducing the effort and drudgery of human porterage is to increase the use of bicycles. As both human porterage and bicycle use, which can be strenuous, will remain dominant in rural areas while current levels of poverty continue, the application of ergonomics to develop local improvements in transport aids and technologies is urgently needed.

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