“Successful rural development is part and parcel of successful development,” said Axel van Trotsenburg, Managing Director, World Bank. With 80% of the world’s extreme poor living in rural areas, solutions to transform rural economies, deliver jobs and provide environmental services are not an academic matter – they’re a call to action.
The panel discussion brought perspectives from the public and private sector to bear on the question of effective rural change.
Panelists agreed on the need for women empowerment to really move things in the rural space. Too many rural women are held back by low levels of literacy and numeracy, poor access to inputs and credit, and weak land security. For Alka Updhayaya, Additional Secretary of India’s Ministry of Rural Development who has organized 60 million women into Self Help Groups, access to affordable credit makes all the difference: “One the women have money in their hands, it’s the best empowerment,” she said.
Farmer cooperatives and local organizations realizing economies of scale are another factor of success from The Netherland to Rwanda. Rural economies are ripe for innovations that deliver better results for both people and planet. Science and digital technology – including SMS and television - can accelerate this transformation.