Rural Service Area - Brief Description


There is often limited knowledge of the spatial relations that exist in a district or region. Distances that people have to travel in order to access basic goods and services often further compound issues of underdevelopment. There is often a limited spatial information on accessibility issues. As a result of this, district and regional planners often find it difficult to justify planning measures designed to overcome the disparities between remote and easily accessible areas.

Existing maps can be used to calculate isolines and accessibility models for a district and region and these in turn can be used in order to plan new infrastructure such as rural or district access roads or can be used to justify upgrading existing infrastructure I order to reduce journey times and thus reduce costs.

The distance people have to travel in order to access basic services or to market their products has important bearing on their behavioural patterns. It is generally true that the closer people live to a function, the benefits accrued and the availability and frequency of use increases. However, a major restricting factor is the income and purchasing power. If people have limited purchasing power the availability and accessibility of goods and services is irrelevant, they simply cannot purchase the necessary services and products.

Using normative service areas and isolines planners are able to determine the service area radius, accessibility of villagers to service providers and markets. Isolines can also be used to determine either physical or time distance measures in order for people to access goods and services. When planning new infrastructure such as access roads, the methods help determine the effective coverage area that will benefit from the roads and the time and cost saving for the people living within the vicinity of the new roads.

Additional methods that can be used to determine accessibility is the method “Mapping central and marginal areas” that can be found in the MethodFinder Practitioner’s guide.