A.5    
 
Province accessibility    
 

Physical access to regional centres is generally considered as a key parameter for rural development since these centres not only provide market opportunities, but also provide access to public services such as health care and higher education. Additionally, within the process of decentralisation, the ease of access to provincial centres plays an increasingly important role not only in terms of the way in which the people can reach the administrative and related services but also on the way in which the provincial administration can reach the people. Hence accessibility influences the social, economic and cultural aspects of rural life.

An accessibility model has been developed in order to quantify and visualise the different dimensions of accessibility in terms of the travel time to different key infrastructure relevant to socio-economic development, such as provincial capitals (Map A.5), district centres (Map A.6), schools (Map D.2) and health centres (Map E.1). This model takes into account the different factors influencing travel time from one place to another: road type and quality, land cover for off-road travel, rivers, and topography. Assuming the best available means of transportation, travel time in minutes is then calculated throughout the country. It should however be borne in mind, that not everyone, particularly the poor, will always have access to the best means of transport available. Accessibility should therefore not be confused with access.

The spatial patterns of the accessibility of provinces clearly reflect the rough terrain and the road infrastructure, which is still rather poor in the Lao PDR despite the tremendous improvements in the last decade. Table 1 shows the percentage of the country lying within certain intervals of time taken to travel to and from provincial capitals. Furthermore it provides a calculation how many people live within each of these categories. We see that a considerable percentage of the population lives within easily accessible areas. Almost half (47%) of the Lao population live in only 7.8% of the country in areas that are closer than 1 hour to a provincial capital. On the other hand only 56% of the country lies within 5 hours or less from any provincial capital. These remote areas may be rather sparsely populated (see Maps B.1 and B.2) but they are still home to approximately 12% of the Lao population.

Access from provincial capitals to crucial administrative governmental services is therefore rather difficult for these population groups, and there is a danger that they are likely to be further marginalised. Moreover, these people are most probably beyond the reach of policies and some of the market opportunities.

Travel time
(in hours)
Percentage
of land area
Percentage
of population
Cumulative
percentage
of land area
Cumulative
percentage
of population
0.5 hrs
2.3
29.8
2.3
2.3
1 hrs
5.5
17.2
7.8
47.0
1.5 hrs
6.5
12.7
14.3
59.7
2 hrs
6.6
8.0
20.9
67.7
2.5 hrs
6.4
5.6
27.3
73.3
3 hrs
6.4
4.5
33.7
77.8
3.5 hrs
6.2
3.5
39.9
81.3
4 hrs
5.8
2.9
45.6
84.2
5 hrs
10.3
3.8
56.0
88.0
6 hrs
8.8
3.5
64.8
91.6
7 hrs
7.5
2.4
72.3
93.9
9 hrs
10.9
3.1
83.2
97.0
11 hrs
6.4
1.3
89.6
98.3
>11 hrs
10.4
1.7
100.0
100.0
Tabe 1: Percentages of the population and country land areas within different accessibility classes to and
from provincial capitals

 

 

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