G. Transportation: Rural Roads Program (Peru)

(NB: To read more about gender, transportation and CCA, see Sectoral Module H.)

Project Name:

Rural Roads Program





Implementing Organizations:
Provias Rural (renamed Provias Descentralizado in 2006)

Funding Partners:
World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)

Budget (US$):

 Three successive projects: 1995–2000;2001–2006;2007–2011

Project Objectives:
(Source: Dasso 2009)

  • To increase access to basic social services and economic and income-generating activities with gender equity
  • To help alleviate rural poverty and raise living standards of rural communities in Peru.

Notable Gender-Related Activities and Processes:

  • Consultation workshops during project preparation, including separate sessions for women and men
  • Participation of women in road maintenance committees, with a goal of at least 20 percent
  • Improvement of non-motorized transport tracks included in the project to respond to women’s needs
  • Creation of community-based road maintenance micro-enterprises, with a goal of at least 10 percent women
  • An innovative “Local Development Window”program[52]
    was established to develop micro-enterprises for road construction and other productive activities, with a goal of at least 30 percent female participation. Membership criteria were adjusted to account for women’s lower education level, and to account for their experience in road maintenance rather than construction, and to take their experience as household “managers”as management experience.

Notable Gender-Related Results:

  • Reduction in women’s level of poverty
  • Improved incomes (from more accessible product and labor markets)
  • Increased empowerment through participation in decision-making and micro-enterprise management
  • Gains in girls’education.


Dasso, E. 2009. “Mainstreaming gender in rural roads programs: The Experience of Peru”. Presented at
Mainstreaming Gender Equality in Infrastructure Projects Latin America and the Caribbean Workshop, 3–4 December 2009,
Multilateral Development Bank’s Gender Working group, Lima, Peru.

Fort, L., and A. Menendez. n.d. Making rural roads work for both women and men: The Example of Peru's rural roads program. World Bank, Washington, DC.

McSweeney, C., and M. Remy. 2008. Building roads to democracy?: The Contribution of the Peru rural roads program to participation and civic engagement in rural Peru. Social Development Notes. No. 111/February 2008. World Bank, Washington, DC.


Pelletier-Thiberge, N. 2008. “Mainstreaming gender in rural roads programs: The Experience of Peru”. Presented at Asia Pacific Regional Meeting on Mainstreaming Gender Equality in Infrastructure Projects, 10-11 November 2008, ADB Headquarter, Manila, Philippines.

World Bank. 2001b. Peru –Second rural roads project. World Bank, Washington, DC.


———. 2006b. Peru –Decentralized rural transport project. World Bank, Washington, DC.

———. 2007a. Peru rural roads program: Bringing access to the rural poor. World Bank, Washington D.C.

———. 2007b. Peru –Second rural roads project. World Bank, Washington, DC.

Provias Descentralizado;

1. Introduction

About 40 percent of Peru’s overall population lives in poverty, and about 20 percent in extreme poverty. However, 78 percent of the rural population is poor, and 51 percent extremely poor. Poverty is highly correlated to the education level of the household head, of which 20 percent are women. Women are poorer as they perform informal agricultural labor and have little employment opportunities. In the rural parts of the Andean mountains, nonexistent or very inefficient transport infrastructure limits people’s access to local markets, schools, and health centers, effectively hampering income-generating opportunities, social services, and knowledge. In 1999, only 28 percent of the rural population had access to a road in good condition. The poorest are the indigenous people, and among them women, who suffer the most from the lack of access to functioning roads and transport. According to a 2004 survey conducted by the World Bank, 60 percent of the trips traveled in rural areas were to visit local markets, either to sell or to shop. The typical distance traveled was 15–35 km. For 60 percent of rural households, freight transport services were available only one to three times a week, if at all.

Since 1995, Peruvian authorities have successfully designed and implemented an innovative approach to road management in the poorest areas of rural Peru, with the help of the World Bank and the IDB. The Peru Rural Road Program consists of a series of three projects: the Peru Rural Road Rehabilitation and Maintenance project (1995–2000), the Second Rural Road Project (2001–2006), and the Decentralized Rural Transport Project (2007–2011).

2. Summary of Program

General description of proposal preparation

  • Consultation workshops revealed the main constraints on travel faced by women: women’s heavy time burdens caused by their “double day”;cultural barriers to women’s use of public transport and to long-distance travel;women’s limited control over household resources, including lack of money and inability to access privately held modes of transport;and their limited voice in the planning of previous transport interventions, which had resulted in their transport needs being largely ignored.
  • Results from the workshops were used to establish the final project designs (i.e., the selection of roads and paths to be maintained, the integration of women into community road maintenance committees and the labor force);3,000 km of paths were included in the second project.

Gender integration during project design/formulation and proposal preparation

  • At the consultation meetings, an NGO facilitated the appointment of villagers as members of Roads Committees, to undertake and contract out maintenance in the local area. Responsible to the community from which they were elected, these committees approved operations, assigned tasks, paid wages, and organized contributions of labor. The committees involved traditional community groups, including women’s groups, to ensure that the transport needs of all community members were met.
  • Preparation of a GAP
  • Participation of women in project design.

Gender integration during project implementation

  • Two training modules on rural road maintenance works with a gender focus targeting male and female micro-entrepreneurs and project staff. Organization of workshops for members of
    Microempresas de Mantenimiento Vial
     with quotas stipulating that 10 percent had to be women, operators, and to the transport agency management.
  •  GFPs and gender champions were identified in implementation agencies.

Key gender-related results

  • A total of 532 micro-enterprises performing the routine maintenance of rehabilitated roads, representing 6,000 permanent jobs, with 24% of female members
  • A total of 121 Provincial Road Institutes were created, of which 36 have reached full capacity
  • Women accounted for 46 percent of treasurers of Rural Roads Committees;21 percent of their members;4.6 percent of the presidents, and 18.7 percent of the secretaries
  • A total of 167 productive initiatives supported by the “Local Development Window”were developed, with 50 percent of women’s participation
  • Reported benefits included the following:
  • Increased availability of transport services by 115 percent
  • Decreased travel times by 53 percent
  • Increased cultivated areas by 22 percent
  • Reduced number of children age 0–5 suffering from illness or accident by 8.1 percent
  • Increased primary school enrollment of girls by 6.7 percent and secondary school enrollment of boys by 9.7 percent.
  • A 2007 survey reported that 67 percent of women felt safer traveling after road improvements, 77 percent traveled more and further, and 43 percent had increased their income.
  • Gains on women’s empowerment were made through their active participation in decision-making during the consultation processes to prioritize the roads and tracks to be improved, from their leadership roles in rural roads and community village infrastructure committees, and from their participation in new micro-enterprises.
  • Women’s interactions outside homestead facilitated acquisition of skills, knowledge, and the confidence that such interactions bring about.
  • Women increased their travel, farther and more frequently, and felt safe and secure. As a result they were able to access more temporary employment opportunities, purchase new tools, earn additional income, and more easily take their children to the health clinics.
  • A study on the Impact on Democracy and Citizenship in rural areas of Peru highlighted that the Rural Roads Program had contributed to greater voters’participation in the municipal elections, particularly for women, and that it had enabled the strengthening of rural institutions.

3. Conclusions


  • Participatory leadership and institutional arrangements gave opportunities to the most vulnerable segments of the Peruvian rural population—such as women and indigenous peoples—to voice their needs and seize new opportunities.
  • The projects demonstrated that women can successfully participate in road maintenance and construction work.
  • The projects demonstrated that involving women in project design can help increase impacts, for example, by integrated improvements in non-motorized transport.
  • The projects proved that quotas can help jump-start a gender agenda.

Lessons learned and missed opportunities

Major lessons include:

  • The critical role of a diverse Project Implementing Agency open to innovation
  • The importance of M&E: three thorough impact evaluation surveys were conducted in 2001, 2005, and 2007, comparing the actual impact of the program in areas where transport conditions were improved to control groups where no intervention had been performed. The results from these impact evaluations were applied to project design from one phase to the next and they contributed to the building of a culture of learning and innovation in the implementing agency.
  • The merits of including a component supporting the development of productive activities in order to harvest the full benefits of rural road improvements
  • The value of disseminating results from such a program. The participatory processes and such design features as the micro-enterprises were adopted in Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, and Honduras, and in a pilot project in China.