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Transforming rural economies

Nov 27, 2015, 9:57 AM

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development of Least Developed Countries Report 2015, launched in The Gambia on Wednesday, says The Gambia is among 48 least developed countries (LDCs) in the world, which means we are part of the least developed group on the ladder of development.

The report, which highlighted salient factors responsible for the condition LDCs find themselves, also pointed out that attention should be paid to our rural areas, as these are the societies where shortfall in human development is much greater.

“The average income shortfall relative to the poverty line is around 20 per cent greater,” the UN report stated.

African countries are seriously poor because the larger part of their rural areas is income poor, hence we need a transformation in our rural economies.

“As the majority of the LDCs population live and work in rural areas, rural development remains the main driver for poverty reduction and the achievement of the SDG (Sustainable Development Goals), which does not mean that urban development should be ignored,” the report said.

It is actually true, as the report stated, that the successes of rural transformation largely depend on the combination of the development of agriculture and non-farm economies and maximising the synergies between the two.

Economic development is vital in the rural areas, and if this is to be ensured, infrastructural and technological development must be directed also at the rural areas.

The achievement of a city state is realised in the development of each and every part of that nation.

Once our rural setting is undeveloped, we cannot really say we are developing. And we cannot also boast of changing the lives of our people when the largest segment of our society is undeveloped.

Appropriate policies need to be put in place and implemented well to ensure desired results are realised that would transform the conditions of our people in the rural areas.

The UN report states that “once the appropriate policies are put in place, we should sequence investments and interventions in critical areas such as infrastructure, development and technology adoption which would complement human capital development to ensure that no one is left behind in terms of employment opportunities”.

Concerted effort is, therefore, needed to clear the bottlenecks that are hindering increase in productivity, employment opportunities and income.

“If you try to put social and cultural development ahead of economic development, it doesn’t work. You have to do it all together.”

Aga Khan IV