The South-East Asian Community Access project (SEACAP) is a transport initiative aimed at developing the knowledge base needed to improve the access of rural communities to social and economic opportunities.
A key element of growth and poverty alleviation is the provision of access to health, education, productive opportunities and markets for rural communities that can otherwise remain isolated. Countries that have benefited from SEACAP include Cambodia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.
SEACAP has provided research funding to solve the problems of rural transport through the optimal use of local resources including labour and materials. The project then communicates the most successful approaches from the research to infrastructure professionals and decision makers through a series of knowledge transfer events such as workshops and training that promote the use of new techniques. SEACAP research grants allowed road constructors to select methods of rural road paving and surfacing that take into account the function of the road and the locally available materials.
SEACAP has been in operation since 2004 and to date, there have been 30 major research projects complemented by 90 knowledge transfer events detailing new best practices. The knowledge and practical outcomes of SEACAP are valuable not only across the four participating countries, but also for rural access initiatives around the world.
UNOPS participated in SEACAP in two important ways. The technical management of SEACAP was provided by UNOPS project staff. This is a recognition of UNOPS expertise in rural infrastructure development. The outputs of SEACAP were put into use by UNOPS through the World Bank-supported National Emergency Employment Program and the National Rural Access Program (NRAP) in Afghanistan as well as the EU-funded Sri Lankan Community Access Programme.
As part of the NRAP programme in Afghanistan, UNOPS has provided implementation support resulting in the construction and rehabilitation of 9,632 km of roads, 14 airfields and generated 12.4 million labour days for Afghan communities in need of employment.
UNOPS in Sri Lanka currently is managing the design and construction of some 400 km of rural roads, a project which has provided three million days of work for local people and improved access to services that are fundamental to growth and poverty alleviation. Using sustainable approaches developed through SEACAP ensures that the benefits of these investments will be perpetuated into the long term.
The attendance of UNOPS project staff at annual SEACAP Practitioners Meetings has expanded the knowledge base and professional reputation of UNOPS in the rural transport development sector.
SEACAP, funded by the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), has delivered findings which have improved the effectiveness of major rural roads programmes supported by the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the European Union. The SEACAP project ended on 30 June 2009. The results of the programme can be accessed through the global Transport Knowledge Partnership which is also supported by DFID.