A.6    
 

District accessibility

   
 
The district accessibility map depicts the travel time from any point in the country to or from any of the 139 district capitals existent in 2007. This representation of accessibility is based on a cost-distance model that estimated travel time using the best means of transport available. Technical details of this model have been explained in Map A.5 and it has been applied to other maps in the atlas (namely Maps A.5, D.2 and E.1).

District towns play an important role in rural development mainly by providing market opportunities and public services. For many villages in the Lao PDR these district towns are the main commercial hubs for the sale of agricultural outputs and purchase of the necessary inputs (e.g. fertiliser) and consumer goods. Moreover, in the Lao government system, districts play an important role in the implementation of policy and it is therefore crucial to know what percentage of the villages and the population can be reached within what time interval.

The basic spatial pattern of the travel times from and to district capitals shown in this map is not fundamentally different to that of the previous map on the accessibility of provinces (Map A.5). Most of the district capitals are located either along the main transportation axes of the country or lie on the quite easily accessible southern plains.  The highest percentage of the district towns (61%) can be reached from the nearest provincial capital within 1 hour or less. Nevertheless, by looking back and forth at Map A.5 we see that a large part of the country becomes greener. The following table provides more details on percentages of the land area and population within different categories of travel time to and from districts:




Travel time
(in hours)
Percentage
of land area
Percentage
of population
Cumulative
percentage
of land area
Cumulative
percentage
of population
0.5 hrs
7.9
60.4
7.9
60.4
1 hrs
11.4
15.4
19.3
75.8
1.5 hrs
9.7
6.6
29.0
82.3
2 hrs
8.5
3.3
37.5
85.6
2.5 hrs
7.4
2.3
44.9
87.9
3 hrs
6.4
1.6
51.3
89.5
3.5 hrs
5.7
1.4
57.0
91.0
4 hrs
5.1
1.2
62.0
92.1
5 hrs
8.5
2.0
70.5
94.2
6 hrs
6.7
1.7
77.2
95.8
7 hrs
5.1
1.1
82.3
96.9
9 hrs
6.9
1.3
89.2
98.2
11 hrs
4.0
0.7
93.2
98.9
>11 hrs
6.8
1.1
100.0
100.0
Table 2: Percentages of population and country land area within different accessibility classes to and
from district capitals




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





Even if 50% of the country still lies more than 3 hours’ travel time away from the nearest district capital, it is surprising, that this involves less than 10% of the population. In other words, most of the population (90%) lives within 3 hours of a district capital, which corresponds to about a one day journey back and forth. This applies not only to people travelling to town but also for service providers or traders travelling from town. In the current debate on additional road construction versus village relocation, district centres should not be forgotten as they play a key role in rural development. One could argue that a very efficient and highly promising intervention would be to ensure that all district centres have good connections and that they function fully as hubs for public services and market opportunities.

 

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