The Potential for Healthy, Sustainable, and Equitable Transport Systems in Africa and the Caribbean: A Mixed-Methods Systematic Review and Meta-Study.


The Human Mobility Transition model describes shifts in mobility dynamics and transport systems. The aspirational stage, ‘human urbanism’, is characterised by high active travel, universal public transport, low private vehicle use and equitable access to transport. We explored factors associated with travel behaviour in Africa and the Caribbean, investigating the potential to realise ‘human urbanism’ in this context. We conducted a mixed-methods systematic review of ten databases and grey literature for articles published between January 2008 and February 2019. We appraised study quality using Critical Appraisal Skills Programme checklists. We narratively synthesized qualitative and quantitative data, using meta-study principles to integrate the findings. We identified 39,404 studies through database searching, mining reviews, reference screening, and topic experts’ consultation. We included 129 studies (78 quantitative, 28 mixed-methods, 23 qualitative) and 33 grey literature documents. In marginalised groups, including the poor, people living rurally or peripheral to cities, women and girls, and the elderly, transport was poorly accessible, travel was characterised by high levels of walking and paratransit (informal public transport) use, and low private vehicle use. Poorly controlled urban growth (density) and sprawl (expansion), with associated informality, was a salient aspect of this context, resulting in long travel distances and the necessity of motorised transportation. There were existing population-level assets in relation to ‘human urbanism’ (high levels of active travel, good paratransit coverage, low private vehicle use) as well as core challenges (urban sprawl and informality, socioeconomic and gendered barriers to travel, poor transport accessibility). Ineffective mobility systems were a product of uncoordinated urban planning, unregulated land use and subsequent land use conflict. To realise ‘human urbanism’, integrated planning policies recognising the linkages between health, transport and equity are needed. A shift in priority from economic growth to a focus on broader population needs and the rights and wellbeing of ordinary people is required. Policymakers should focus attention on transport accessibility for the most vulnerable.