Rural Roads versus African Famines

Marie-Françoise Calmette, and Maureen Kilkenny


This paper formalizes and demonstrates how transport infrastructure between rural areas helps Third World countries deal with crop failures. In developed economies where transport costs are negligible, a crop failure in one area enhances market opportunities for producers in other growing regions. In developing countries where transport costs can be prohibitive, a crop failure in one area can have the reverse effects on other growing regions—undermining market opportunities—especially where crops must be transported through a central market to which food aid is delivered. We analyze the impacts of crop failures and food aid in a Walrasian general equilibrium model of a small, open, three-region economy, stylized to mimic African countries with prohibitively high costs of transport between rural regions.

Published in

The Annals of Regional Science, vol. 49, n. 2, 2012, pp. 373–396