A New Rural Development Paradigm for the 21st Century

A Toolkit for Developing Countries

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Three billion people live in rural areas in developing countries. Conditions for them are worse than for their urban counterparts when measured by almost any development indicator, from extreme poverty, to child mortality and access to electricity and sanitation. And the gulf is widening, contributing to large-scale migration to urban areas. This situation exists despite half a century of rural development theories and approaches, and despite the global momentum built around the Millennium Development Goals between 2000 and 2015. Without greater progress on rural development, it is unlikely that the new Sustainable Development Goals will be met. This book calls for a new paradigm for rural development that is equipped to meet the challenges and harness the opportunities of the 21st century – including climate change, demographic shifts, international competition and fast-moving technological change.



Overview: A New Rural Development Paradigm

OECD Development Centre

There is need for a new rural development paradigm for developing countries. Three billion people live in rural areas in developing countries and the number is expected to increase further over the next couple of decades. Rural areas in developing countries are characterised by high poverty rates, limited access to basic public services, and an overall lack of opportunities. Actions aiming to improve rural livelihoods are not new, but the overwhelming reality facing many rural populations today suggests that the results of previous efforts have been limited. Achieving the recently launched Sustainable Development Goals will not be possible without the implementation of effective rural development strategies. This chapter provides an overview of the book. It outlines the situation of rural areas in developing countries today. It revisits previous approaches and theories for rural development, summarising the rural policy experience across OECD countries – with a particular focus on the Korean experience – and five developing countries in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Building on these experiences, the chapter summarises a series of policy lessons, which help to frame a New Rural Development Paradigm for developing countries in the 21st century.


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