Nine projects based in Africa and South Asia have been awarded funding to develop innovative research ideas aimed at improving aspects of transport systems in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
The Transport-Technology Research and Innovation for International Development (T-TRIID) fund, part of the High Volume Transport Applied Research Programme (HVT), was devised in response to the increasing challenges facing transport infrastructure in the global south. Intense pressure in recent years, notably from climate change and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, has seen transport systems in some countries brought close to collapse, threatening the access of millions of people to vital services, work and education and putting developing economies at risk.
The T-TRIID competition offers grants to organisations, institutions and businesses considering these myriad problems and thinking differently about ways to tackle them. Its aim is to fund short term research projects demonstrating innovative ideas that enable greener, more sustainable and inclusive transport in LMICs.
The nine projects cover a broad range of transport concerns, but fall under two of HVT’s central themes: decarbonisation and inclusion. The research suppliers are divided almost evenly between South Asia and Africa.
At an online cohort event held by HVT, the nine suppliers took the opportunity to come together to connect with the aim of finding and building on synergies between their projects. Since several of the projects work in similar areas, both geographically and across related themes, a number of useful connections were made.
Paul Curtis of Vectos (South) Limited, whose project, Inclusive Interchanges, addresses the poor level of integration of formal and informal public transport services and interchanges in Nigeria, was interested in the safety challenges facing the informal transport sector as described by Michael Wanyama of Autosafety Uganda in his presentation ‘Tackling Africa’s road crashes and emissions from the source’. This project focuses on making safe the more than two million vehicles in Uganda over the age of 15 years, currently repaired by mechanics working in makeshift settings with inappropriate tools.
“Michael’s suggestion of having more mechanical services available to help maintain the quality of minibus taxis is something we could perhaps put into the initial design template for public transport interchanges, [it would be good] to have those other services on site as well.”
Michael agreed it would be a great idea to have recovery services for buses and trucks at interchanges, since such a service does not currently exist in Uganda.
Two of the projects working in India’s capital, Delhi, both focusing on women and transport, also found there were likely to be areas of overlap within their research. Manisha from The Urban Catalysts whose project aims to close the gender gap in mobility data in Delhi by
gender tagging in the electronic bus ticketing system, suggested her organisation would be interested to find out more about the data collection methods used by the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi. That project, headed by Professor Deepty Jain, aims to reduce the vulnerability of women commuters in the capital to hot weather conditions by gathering data about the adaptation and risks of their trips and designing solutions.
“It would be good if we could interact more and learn where the synergies are, and how we can learn from you,” said Deepty. “We could synthesise some of the data collection and do it together.”
Addressing the critical need for solutions to emissions levels in India, where road freight demand is expected to grow by five times by 2050, the Urban Lab Foundation’s project explores air pollution as a key factor in the degradation of historical buildings and monuments, with a focus on the walled city of Ahmedabad. Their research will devise a freight emissions index for heritage cities, to measure emissions, provide a set of key indicators for decision-makers and develop a mitigation plan.
Also in South Asia, the Islamic University of Technology (IUT) in Bangladesh was awarded funding for its project to develop road design guidelines to accommodate slow-moving three-wheeled vehicles (Tri-SMVs), which make up about 80% of the traffic in Bangladesh. Roads are designed for motorised four+ wheeled vehicles only, creating safety and comfort issues for Tri-SMVs’ drivers and passengers, and significantly affecting the mobility of vulnerable groups.
This research is likely to find synergies with the University of the West of England, Bristol’s project centred on policy and regulation development for motorised taxi safety in Nepal. 43% of road traffic deaths involve motorcycles in South-East Asia, where they are often used as taxis. The research will gather data on motorcycle taxi related deaths and injuries in Nepal and develop options for change, including the allocation of road space, passenger safety and using cleaner vehicles.
In Africa, projects include ITP’s research into building an AI workflow and tool to obtain transport data from mass online sources to create an evidence-based picture of the transport challenges of a given city, piloted in Bo, Sierra Leone. The project, ‘Computer Vision for public Transport’, aims to provide local government with information on vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
Also from Africa, research by Mekelle University in Ethiopia into the safety and mobility challenges of persons with disability in Mekelle City finds that their needs are not being met. The research explores transport and infrastructure services and plans to develop inclusive policies that are available, safe and easy to use by everybody.
The grants awarded to the projects above are divided into two tiers, with up to £25,000 being offered for small grants to projects of around six months’ duration, and between £25,000 and £50,000 for larger grants to projects of around 12 months’ duration.