Children, Transport and Mobility in Africa Sharing experiences from Ghana, Malawi and South Africa

2010 is the Year of Africa on World Streets, and here you have the first of what we intend will develop into a engaging series of articles, ideas and information on problems, attitudes, responses, barriers and the ingenious work-arounds that African children and adults are so often obliged to find on their own.

This publication was funded by The Africa Community Access Programme (AFCAP) to help us better understand how children look at and deal with day to day challenges of transport and mobility in three African countries.

Sharing Experiences of Young Researchers in Ghana, Malawi and South Africa.

Recent research has shown that some of the common challenges faced by children walking to school in Ghana, Malawi and South Africa are the long distances travelled and the domestic chores that must be completed before setting out. This can result in lateness or untidy appearances, both of which can be punishable by lashing, whipping and duties such as weeding. Children are also scared of wild animals (snakes and dogs) and bandits that they may encounter on their journey.

The University of Durham led research project ‘Children, Transport and Mobility in Ghana, Malawi and South Africa’ focused on main three issues:

1. The mobility constraints faced by girls and boys in accessing health, education, markets and other facilities.

2. How these constraints impact on children’s current and future livelihood opportunities.

3. The lack of guidelines on how to tackle them.

The principal project aim was to generate knowledge that can serve as evidence to help change transport policies and practices, especially where these have impact on the educational and health opportunities for children and young people.

The journey to fetch water:

The idea for the book came from the young researchers themselves. They wanted a vehicle for sharing their experiences and research findings with a wider audience. They worked hard to sift through all of the materials that they had collected, picking out the key themes that had emerged from the research. They also reflected on their experiences as young researchers in the different contexts in which they had worked. The result is very much their own work, indeed most of the book was written by the young researchers, in their own words.


A foreword from the young researchers: 4
A foreword from the adult researchers: 6
1.1. The journey to school 11
1.2. The journey to the market, shops and town 12
1.3. The journey to the health centre 12
1.4. The journey to fetch water 13
1.5. The journey to fetch firewood 14
1.6. The journey to the farm 15
1.7. The journey to the maize mill 15
1.8. The journey to church 16
2.1. What did we like about the project? 18
2.2. What did we find challenging about the project? 20
2.3. What skills have we learnt and what has the impact been? 21
2.4. Particular challenges encountered by girls 23
2.5. “Surprises” or things we didn’t expect 24
3.1 Ghana (Forest Zone) young researchers 26
3.2 Ghana (Coastal Zone) young researchers 26
3.3 Malawi young researchers 27
3.4 South Africa young researchers 27
4.1. Individual Interviews 29
4.2. Focus Group Discussions or Group Interviews 30
4.3. Diaries 31
4.4. Accompanied walks 32
4.5. Observation or Counting by looking 33
4.6. Pictures 34
4.8. Life Histories

About this booklet:

This booklet arose from a workshop in Ghana, held at the end of the research project, bringing together some of the young researchers from the three countries.

The idea for the booklet came from the young researchers, who wanted a medium for sharing their experiences and research findings with a wider public. They worked hard to sift through all of the materials that they and the other young researchers had collected, picking out the key themes that had emerged from the research. They also reflected on the experiences of being a young researcher in the different contexts in which they had worked.

The result is very much the young researchers’ work. Most of the booklet was written by the young researchers themselves, in their own words. Some sections were written collaboratively between the young researchers and adult facilitators, who helped them to bring their ideas together. The adult researchers have added occasional footnotes where they felt clarification was needed. We hope you enjoy the result and find it useful!

Download the beautifully illustrated book here:
(Acrobat pdf 2.2 MB)

Find out more about the Children, Transport and Mobility Project here:

Production of the book has been funded by AFCAP


Ghana: Cyril Agbley, Daniel Aidoo Borsah, Emmanuel Cornelius Ampong, Exinovsky Ntim Asare, Emmanuel Owusu Danquah, Evans Egyir, Euodia Kumi-Yeboah, Emmanuel Teye Owusu, Lawrencia Tabuaa, Charity Tawiah, Dorothy Tawiah, Victoria Yeboah.

Malawi: Manes Banda, Alie Bwanali, Tendai Chiwawula, Lawrence Godfrey, Mary Kamphangwe, Dalitso Kaunda, Gift Kawanga, Bernadetta Kuchonde, Christopher Lyson, Ludovicco Magola, Esther Malimusi, Christopher Mbeza, Anthony Merrick, Brasho Moff art, Towera Mwaungulu, Smart Ng’oma, Alinafe Ntewa, Tionge Phiri, Georgina Pwere, Thokozani Tembo, Nenani Thinbo, Micklina Welesani, Monica William, Tisunge Zuwaki.

South Africa: Nokulunga Bara, Poniswa Protect Chauke, Buhle Dambuza, Noluvo Diko, Xhalisile Elliot, Kholwakazi Joseph, Nthahla Kelem, Tholakele Kelem, Vuyiseka Keyisi, Esrom Kgapola, Hope Lehabe, Zintle Mapetshana, Nelly Mathebula, Nosiphiwo Mbanzi, Sannie Molefe, Matshidiso Motaung, Zimkhita Moyakhe, Mzoyolo Matsili, Ntlatywa Mlondolozi, Matthews Mothupi, Zanoxolo Mseswa, Thembinkosi Msimanga, Mandilakhe Mtambeki, Sinathi Ndamashe, Felicia Ntuli, Odwa Noraqa, Christina Ramongane, Noah Setshedi, Wisdom Shuma, Ncumisa Thungilizwe.

All the photographs used were taken by the young researchers or the adult researchers during the project.


About the editor

Eric Britton
13, rue Pasteur. Courbevoie 92400 France

Bio: Founding editor of World Streets (1988), Eric Britton is an American political scientist, teacher, occasional consultant, and sustainability activist who has observed, learned, taught and worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. In the autumn of 2019, he committed his remaining life work to the challenges of aggressively countering climate change and specifically greenhouse gas emissions emanating from the mobility sector. He is not worried about running out of work. Further background and updates: @ericbritton | | #fekbritton | | and | Contact: | +336 508 80787 (Also WhatApp) | Skype: newmobility.)

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