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.



The rural world today

OECD Development Centre

Most of the population of developing countries resides in rural areas, which are characterised by high levels of poverty and a lack of opportunities. The absolute number of rural people is expected to continue to grow in South Asia and especially in sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time, the gulf between rural and urban areas in terms of development is widening within developing countries. Some developing regions have managed to tackle rural development much more successfully than others, however. This chapter analyses these patterns on a global level, and then with particular reference to Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Differences across developing countries call for context-specific approaches to tackle their problems and to exploit their opportunities. Changes in both demography and the environment, along with weak governance systems, are among the most important challenges to be faced by rural areas of developing countries in the coming decades.


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