Event Objective

This side-event will provide an opportunity for WFS:fyl delegates to receive a briefing from Mr Kevin Cleaver, Director, World Bank Rural Development Department, on the World Bank's Rural Development Strategy, entitled "Reaching the Rural Poor". The revised strategy is intended to spearhead a renewed commitment on the part of the World Bank to collaborate with developing and transition countries and other stakeholders in the task of rural poverty reduction; in particular, meeting the commitments of the international community to halve poverty by 2015, as contained in the Millennium Development Goals.


It has long been accepted that a majority of the world's poor people live in rural areas. The World Bank along with others has persistently pursued development efforts to address the unacceptable reality of such levels of rural poverty. The 1974 Nairobi speech of Robert S. McNamara sealed the institution's commitment in this regard, and the current World Bank President, James Wolfensohn, has strongly reaffirmed that commitment. Yet in spite of sustained efforts, the rural poverty situation has changed little in most of the developing world. It is clear that the Bank will not be successful in meeting its overall poverty reduction objective unless it helps reduce rural poverty quickly. Moreover, given the prevalent deprivations in rural health, education and social services, approaching the broader Millennium Development Goals will not be possible without significant increases in rural incomes and opportunities.

The new IBRD/IDA strategy for rural development calls for raising the profile of the rural development effort, and extending Bank endeavours to reach the rural poor. The new strategy has four distinct features:

Focusing on the poor. The Bank is moving to holistic pro-poor rural development and the enhancement of returns to labour and land.

Fostering broad-based growth. While reaffirming its commitment to agriculture as the main engine of rural economic growth, the Bank recognises the importance of non-farm economic activities and the private sector.

Addressing the entire rural space. The Bank is moving to cross-sectoral approaches for the longer term - and away from short-term sector-by-sector approaches - yet addressing directly the shortcomings of earlier top-down, non-inclusive approaches.

Forging alliances of all stakeholders. The Bank is increasing broad-based stakeholder participation in project and programme design and implementation.

Under this strategy, national and regional diversity will guide implementation. For each country, the priorities and mix of policy instruments are determined by the progress in policy reform, by the size and state of the rural economy, and by the access to external markets and finance. For each region, the action plans reflect specific conditions and the Bank's comparative advantage in delivering support for rural areas. For programmes to support the provision of global public goods, the strategic priorities are to further the interests of developing countries in the WTO process and to ensure ready access to new and appropriate technology, particularly that suited to poor farmers and small rural businesses.



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FAO, 2002