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Results BriefsApril 15, 2024

Increasing Connectivity for Enhanced Food Supply Chain Resilience

Aerial view of a large ship loading grain for export.

Aerial view of a large ship loading grain for export.

Eduard Valentinov/Shutterstock

Even with record food production, global hunger is intensifying, and food insecurity remains especially severe in fragile and poorly connected regions because of high transport costs. In some cases, logistics account for half of the delivered price of food products. The World Bank helps countries target the vulnerabilities in food supply chains and build robust transport networks. World Bank-supported projects in regional logistics, integrated transport, and rural access have strengthened supply chains to ensure food reaches those who need it most, leading to greater food security and reduced food-price volatility.

Key Achievements

  • 53 million people living in the vicinity of the Abidjan-Lagos trade and transport corridor benefited from reduced travel times and easier movement of people and goods along the corridor between 2010 and 2018.
  • 1.5 million people in Nigeria gained access to an all-season road within 2 kilometers (km), between 2008 and 2016, resulting in improved access to markets and services, and enabling farmers to sell their produce at higher prices.
  • Nearly 100,000 rural residents in South Sudan, 48 percent of whom were women, gained all-season access to key services and markets between 2012 and 2016.
  • The border crossing time at the Raxaul-Birgunj border post between India and Nepal was reduced by 62 percent from 2.3 days to 0.87 days between 2013 and 2021.
  • Costs for trucks operating on the Osh-Batken-Isfana road corridor between the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan decreased by 20 percent between 2014 and 2019.


As of 2023, progress toward achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2, Zero Hunger, was significantly off track, with more than 250 million people estimated to be facing food crises.  The cost of transport is a significant factor impacting food prices and food security, particularly in the world’s poorest countries, where food expenses can reach 70 percent of household budgets. In some parts of Africa transport prices at the local level can make up as much as 50 percent of the price of food.  In many developing countries, inadequate infrastructure along the supply chain and inefficient transport services lead to high transportation costs and delays, food price volatility, shortages, and post-harvest losses. For example, according to the World Resources Institute, in sub-Saharan Africa, the value of post-harvest losses registered each year for grains alone exceeds the value of food aid received over the past decade and is equivalent to the annual value of cereal imports.

Additionally, supply chain disruptions such as those caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, conflicts, and the effects of climate change, can lead to a complex set of challenges that increase the cost of transporting food products, affecting the entire food supply chain from producers to consumers even at a global scale. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in early 2022 exacerbated food supply pressures that had been triggered by the pandemic. The invasion halted Ukraine’s grain exports for some time and led to a search for alternative arrangements to reconnect to global markets for grains in particular. The combined effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine led to an increase of 56 percent in real terms in the  Food and Agriculture Organization Food Price Index between February 2020 and March 2022, when it reached a peak. The index has since receded from this high point, but in February 2024 it was still 10 percent higher than it was in February 2020, in real terms.


World Bank-funded transport projects focus on improving access to agricultural inputs and food products, reducing transport costs, decreasing cross-border trade time and costs, and facilitating the transportation of food and agricultural inputs within and between countries and regions. The projects are designed to help countries maintain and enhance connections to local and international markets, which is crucial for providing access to inputs, ensuring food availability, stabilizing prices, minimizing post-harvest losses, and addressing deprivation during shortages or significant disruptions to food systems. 

World Bank support enables countries to expand their transportation infrastructure creating resilient networks in rural areas and at regional levels. Transport operations are tailored to the needs of each context typically combining infrastructure (ports, roads, railways, airports, and border crossings) and policy and regulatory reforms. This approach aims to ensure that farmers have better access to agricultural inputs, and people enjoy increased food security through better access to fresh, diverse, and affordable food options. Reduced transport costs also lead to less food waste and support economic development in general.

The roads were very bad, and conditions were extremely difficult. There were all kinds of bureaucratic red tape—customs, police, gendarmerie—forcing me to stop several times. It could take me more than one week to travel from Lomé to Ouagadougou, roughly 950 kilometers that I now travel in under two days.
Massata Cisse - Beneficiary photo
Massata Cissé
Female truck driver from Burkina Faso who transports goods in the West Africa region


Transportation projects have helped improve food security across multiple pathways toward results, with two categories standing out: rural road improvements that increase food security within countries, and measures to facilitate trade and improve connectivity across countries.

World Bank-supported rural feeder roads projects have helped enhance food security through improved access to agricultural markets and services:

  • The Nigeria Rural Access and Mobility Project (RAMP-2), implemented between 2008 and 2016,  improved rural access and mobility in the Kaduna state, in north-central Nigeria, through rehabilitation and construction of rural roads. The project brought 1.5 million people within 2 km of an all-season road, resulting in improved access to markets and services and enabling farmers to sell their produce at higher prices. It also helped reduce costs and average transport time, resulting in a 31 percent increase in the volume of agricultural produce transported. The project led to increased agricultural productivity and strengthened institutional capacity, which contributed to greater food security and improved nutrition for rural communities.
  • The South Sudan Rural Roads Project, implemented between 2012 and 2016, enhanced all-season road connectivity to agricultural services for rural communities in high agricultural-potential areas. The project achieved several key impacts: (i) almost 100,000 rural residents, 48 percent of whom were women, directly benefited from the project, gaining all-season access to key services and markets, (ii) connectivity to 39 agricultural centers improved, and (iii) average travel time decreased by about two-thirds, from around three hours to one hour on the Maggwi-Labone and the Yei-New Lasu roads. The reduced time translated into lower transport costs, leading to increased income and savings for rural households.

World Bank-supported projects helped improve regional connectivity, enhancing resilience of food logistics systems and reducing cross-border trading time and costs:

  • The Abidjan–Lagos Trade and Transport Facilitation Project (phase 1 and phase 2), implemented between 2010-2018, helped reduce trade and transport barriers in the ports and on the roads along the corridor through trade facilitation measures and infrastructure improvements. Fifty-three million people living in the vicinity of the corridor benefited from project activities through reduced travel times and seamless movement of people and goods along the corridor, and 33 percent of the beneficiaries were women. The project substantially reduced the time that ships spent waiting to unload cargo in port: Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, saw a 21 percent reduction, from 14 days to 11 days; Lomé, Togo, experienced a reduction of 50 percent, from 18 days to nine days; and Cotonou, Benin, saw a 26 percent reduction, from 19 days to 14 days. These reductions contributed to increasing the competitiveness of the ports along the Abidjan–Lagos corridor. The project also significantly reduced travel time and borders crossing times of trucks/merchandise by 47 percent.
  • The Nepal–India Regional Trade and Transport Project, implemented between 2013 and 2021, contributed to shorter transport times and lower logistics costs along the Kathmandu–Kolkata corridor through improvements in infrastructure, capacity building of domestic laboratories, and the simplification of trade-related transactions. The border crossing time at the Raxaul–Birgunj border post was significantly reduced from 2.3 days to 0.87 days. The project also helped with the completion of a sanitary and phyto-sanitary building in Kathmandu, which tackled the problem of shipment delays, high costs, and losses due to the absence of laboratories with international accreditation for testing agricultural products meant for trade. The time needed to meet regulatory requirements for import, export, and transit activities between the two countries was cut down from 4.8 days to 2.5 days, a reduction of 2.3 days and equivalent to approximately half the shelf life of fresh pulses, which are one of Nepal’s main exports to India. As such, these results were particularly important to agriculture, enabling farmers to reduce the proportion of post-harvest losses.  
  • The First Phase of the Central Asia Road Links Project, implemented between 2014 and 2019, helped decrease travel time and trade costs between the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan by rehabilitating priority road sections, improving current road operations, and enhancing maintenance practices in the Osh–Batken–Isfana (OBI) road corridor. This reduced the average travel time from Isfana to Kairagach by road by about 11 percent for service cars, 31 percent for pickups, and 24 percent for cars. Costs for trucks operating along the road sections covered by the project decreased by 20 percent from $0.52 per vehicle per km to $0.42 per vehicle per km.

Bank Group Contribution

Between 2013 and 2023, World Bank lending for rural roads and corridor projects that include regional connectivity, logistics, and trade facilitation reached almost $13 billion for 52 projects across all regions of the world. In addition, food security-relevant transport and logistics projects totaling $10 billion are under preparation as of early 2024.


The World Bank is the largest multilateral organization supporting transport and logistics connectivity programs and projects across the world. To achieve meaningful change and results at country level, the World Bank works closely with other development banks and agencies including the African Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the World Food Programme, the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization, and the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development, as well as the International Food Policy Research Institute.

One example of successful partnership is the First Phase of the Central Asia Road Links Project where the World Bank has worked alongside other partners such as the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the European Union, the ADB, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Islamic Development Bank, and the Export-Import Bank of China to improve border crossing facilities and build complementary corridor road links. Such partnerships, and new ones that are evolving with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, show the potential of collaboration to boost resources to maximize scale of interventions and development impact. 

Looking Ahead

Recognizing the persistence of food insecurity, the World Bank has identified Food and Nutrition Security (FNS) as one of its six global challenge programs (GCPs) requiring concerted action. The World Bank is currently preparing projects worth approximately $2.4 billion of FNS relevant transport operations for the 2024 and 2025 fiscal years. Going forward, the World Bank will prioritize interventions with the highest impact and will strategically direct investments toward food security relevant infrastructure and logistics to strengthen transport networks and to make food systems more resilient. The role of transport will remain central for productivity, food trade, and preparedness and response to shocks.

The World Bank is committed to enhancing food security for millions of people worldwide, including by reshaping the food system to deliver good health outcomes and prosperity on a livable planet. The new approach is centered on key cross-sectoral interventions, with a central role for transport in terms of physical access and logistics. It is aligned with the World Bank’s new vision and mission by catalyzing and systematizing measurements to better target and scale the most effective interventions for strengthened food outcomes.