Rural–urban connectivity strengthens agrarian peace : Evidence from a study of gender and motorcycle taxis in Sierra Leone

Jenkins, Jack; Mokuwa, Esther; Peters, Krijn; Richards, Paul


Rural-based insurgencies disrupted the forest margins of Upper West Africa in the 1990s. A subsequent return to peace was accompanied by strong growth in small-scale trade in foodstuffs and other agrarian produce in high demand in towns. Motor cycle taxis are a feature of this increased rural–urban market integration. It was a mode of transport pioneered by ex-combatants. Where rural women were once attacked by rural young men without job prospects press ganged into fighting for the rebels, bike taxi riders now carry them to rural periodic markets, many of which are new since the end of conflict. The study provides an analytical account of these developments, drawing on discussions with villagers in three heavily war-affected localities of Sierra Leone. The evidence indicates that communities divided by conflict have quietly built new cooperative links conducive to peace based on local agricultural production and petty trade.