Sustainable Development Banner

March 1996

Sustainable rural development:
Progress and challenges

This special report is based on the "Fourth Progress Report on the WCARRD Programme of Action" (FAO, 1995)

1. Overview
"Liberalization can assist the distribution of land, the improvement of educational services, the direct participation of the rural poor in policy formulation and the reduction of gender disparities. But many structural adjustment initiatives have had a negative impact on the rural poor."

2. Access to land, natural resources, inputs, markets and services
"Economic liberalization and accompanying market reforms continue, and there is renewed interest in institutional regularization of land and other transactions. But land market reforms are progressing slower than other input/output factor reforms. Growth with equity is a goal still unmet."

3. People's participation
"Current reforms create new opportunities and new obstacles for people's participation. A declining role of the state implies a need for increasing people's capacities within the private sector and civic society to participate actively in decisionmaking."

4. Women in agriculture and rural development
"Agriculture and rural poverty are becoming more 'feminized' due to economic and political dislocations. Equity in access to, and control over, rural resources for women farmers is essential for sustainable agricultural development."

5. Education, training and extension
"Unfortunately, many countries report reduced expenditure in education due to fiscal deficits. Increasing school enrolments and reduced government expenditure in education have resulted in a decline in the quality and efficiency of the educational system."

This Special is also available in French and Spanish