United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

United States of America

United States Department of State
Washington, D.C.
Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting
UN Commission on Sustainable Development -17 Extended Remarks Upon
Thematic Discussion: Sustainable Rural Development Which Intervention Is Based
Intervention for February 24, Afternoon Session
Intervention Delivered by: Hiram Larew, Agricultural Adviser, Office of Environmental Policy,
Bureau of Oceans, Environment and Science, U.S. Department of State
I thank the Chair. The United States actively promotes sustainable rural development at home
and abroad. It has done so for many years, and will continue to so for many more. Why?
Because we realize, as do so many other countries, that sustainable development of rural
communities is vital to the environmental, social, and economic viability of nations. And in
keeping with our overall message during the CSD 17 cycle, we also recognize the importance of
investing in science and education, in empowering local organizations and communities, and in
tapping the power of new information technology tools to promote sustainable rural development
? be it in our American heartland or in other countries around the world.
Clearly, one of the fundamental challenges and opportunities that face rural communities is
outmigration of talented young people. Said slightly differently, we must find ways to reduce
the disparities in the quality of life between urban and rural areas so rural areas are considered
attractive and vibrant places to live and work, and to build a future. They must offer quality
jobs, sound health care, and appropriate recreational opportunities. This requires that we all
work to create interesting and viable opportunities for current and future generations so that rural
poverty is not only reduced, but reversed, and so that the rural environment attracts people.
Over time, the United States has identified a few key lessons in promoting rural vitality. These
1) Empower rural people and communities to manage their own social and economic
2) Expand access to essential services and infrastructures so that rural health, education and
productivity are enhanced;
3) Build the supporting infrastructure and utilities for improved lifestyles, business
development and employment opportunities that integrate rural areas into the rest of the
4) Link rural agricultural producers to both rural and urban markets, and equip them to
respond to consumer preferences and market demand;
5) Restore and strengthen the connections between rural communities and the surrounding
environment through sustainable stewardship of natural resources;
6) Address special vulnerabilities of rural people to economic recessions;
7) Strengthen the resilience of rural people to recover from extreme weather and other
systemic shocks; and,
8) Ensure that the special needs and expectations of rural men and women are met
Each of these lessons contributes to sustainable rural development. They are described in more
detail below.
1) Empower rural people and communities to manage their own social and economic
Such empowerment does not happen automatically. Several factors play a role ?
? Rural authorities and local grassroots organizations are entrusted with appropriate
powers, rights and responsibilities, and then are held accountable;
? Strengthen the incentives of people to invest in the land and avoid undercutting these
incentives or fostering dependencies on external assistance;
? Serious efforts are made to ensure that rural voices, opinions and input influence relevant
public policy and budget decisions;
? Rural organizations devoted to building the capacity of youth, women and the elderly are
supported; and
? Information systems are both available in rural communities and are designed to support
Please see Boxes 1 and 2 for examples of relevant programs.
Box 1. U.S. Assistance Programs: Empowering People and Communities
Reforming Laws - In Ethiopia, USAID helped reform property rights laws, and trained judges
and government officials on a new land registration system. Parcels benefiting 146,000
households were registered. Field evaluations indicate the programs increased investments,
improved the management of natural resources, and led to increased household incomes.
Research that Empowers ? USAID?s Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resource
Management Collaborative Research Support Program (SANREM CRSP) promotes
stakeholder empowerment and improved livelihoods in countries such as Uganda, Kenya,
Zambia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, Mexico, Indonesia, Philippines, and Vietnam.
Women?s Property Rights ? USAID programs in Kenya and Tanzania focused on
strengthening women's property rights to help them defend and keep their property when
challenged by men. In Rwanda, the new land policy includes special protections for women
and procedures to facilitate registration of their property.
Access to Justice and Land Rights ? With financial support from Millennium Challenge
Corporation (MCC), the Government of Benin has enacted new legal procedural codes that
replace archaic laws, and has constructed 9 new courthouses. MCC is also helping people in
54 communities in Benin gain rights to their land, and is helping to formalize land rights
procedures in 190 villages.
Making the Rule of Law Work for Rural Poor - With support from USAID/Guinea?s
Expanded Natural Resources Management Program (ENRMP), the Government of Guinea
established National Forest co-management relationships with local communities. The
program helped local communities organize democratically-elected Forest Management
Committees that were responsible for ensuring that laws were followed and that fines were
paid. When privileged individuals tried to use their position to harvest illegally, the local
Forestry Agent confiscated the illegally-cut teak logs.
Empowering Farmers - To enhance Honduran farmers? entrepreneurial skills and decision
making, MCC is helping to provide pricing data via cellular phones and to identify market
2) Expand access to essential services and infrastructures so that rural health, education
and productivity are enhanced.
Compared with urban populations, rural populations have significantly lower access to health
care services such as antenatal care, lower access to improved drinking-water sources and
sanitation, and greater exposure to home indoor air pollution that contribute to an overall higher
disease burden.
For example, the lack of clean water, combined with the lack of basic sanitation and hygiene
education, is one of the largest ? but avoidable ? obstacles to social progress and development in
rural areas. Each year overseas, water-related illnesses such as malaria, cholera and diarrhea
claim the lives of many children and adults. Rural communities need protection of their water
supplies from contamination by improper handling of household water supplies, household
waste, and poor sanitation. While access to safe water is a health and nutrition issue overseas, it
is also a critical economic issue. Villagers far away from rivers, lakes and streams struggle daily
to get water. Long hours collecting water keeps women from other productive activities.
Moreover, scarcity of water has often led to conflict over competing needs.
We have found that the following elements are key to successfully strengthening rural social
services and infrastructure.
Box 2. U.S. Domestic Programs: Empowering People and Communities
Cooperatives - In the United States, USDA?s Cooperative Programs promote understanding and use of
the cooperative form of business as a viable organization option for marketing and distributing
agricultural products. A cooperative is a business or service organization that is owned and
democratically controlled by the people who use its services. Rural cooperatives can provide a variety
of different functions and benefits to the community such as marketing products, supplying needed
inputs, and providing services such as cotton ginning, storage, or trucking. Rural utilities may provide
electricity, water, and telecommunications to rural settings. Cooperatives may also provide health
care, child care, insurance, credit and housing for rural communities.
Supporting Rural Development - USDA?s Rural Development (RD) promotes economic development
by providing loans to businesses through banks and community-managed lending pools, while also
assisting communities to participate in community empowerment programs and cooperatives. USDA
RD encourages collaborative efforts and partnerships by providing financial and technical assistance
that contribute to the efforts of others engaged in strategic economic development activities. At
present, RD assistance emphasizes community-level renewable energy and energy efficiency activities
that help mitigate the impact of climate change. RD supports several external internet websites
(AgMRC and ATTRA) which provide a wealth of information on value-added agriculture and
sustainable development activity across the U.S.
Youth Development - USDA?s 4-H program was developed so that young people can enjoy
university-based youth programs and projects for diverse interests. 4-H engages nearly seven million
young people nationwide with exciting, hands-on learning adventures that enable rural and all youth to
become productive members of tomorrow?s society and work force.
? Aiming for urban and surburban standards of access to preventive health- and nutrition-care,
especially antenatal care for mothers and comprehensive care for care for children under two,
as well as access to safe drinking water, sanitation, and clean household energy.
? Building capacity and investing in human resource development ? especially youth education
? for a physically and intellectually capable workforce. This requires primary, secondary and
tertiary schools that prepare rural youth to job needs and opportunities.
Please see Box 3 for examples of relevant programs.
Box 3. Access to Essential Services
Hygiene Improvement - USAID/Indonesia set up a comprehensive hygiene improvement and
diarrheal disease prevention program encompassing access to infrastructure (water supply systems,
sanitation facilities, etc.); hygiene promotion (communication, social marketing, etc.); and, enabling
environment (policy improvement; financing, cost recovery, public/private partnerships, etc). Lesson
learned: Community ownership and participation are critical for sustainability; Involve women;
Changing behaviors is must focus on whole community, not just individuals; and, Integrated
interventions (total sanitation strategies) are most effective.
Water Supply and Sanitation - USAID is working within the Okavango watershed in southwestern
Africa to support local efforts to improve water supply and sanitation services, improve management
of the riparian ecosystem, and protect biodiversity. USAID provides training, heightens awareness on
transboundary management methods, and otherwise supports local groups in their effort to implement
integrated water resources management to protect the health of the ecosystem and the multiple uses of
water in the region.
School Feeding - The McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program
helps promote education, child development, and food security for some of the world's poorest
children. It provides for donations of U.S. agricultural products, as well as financial and technical
assistance, for school feeding and maternal and child nutrition projects in low-income countries.
Universal Sanitation - In Ethiopia, the USAID Hygiene Improvement Project (HIP), together with the
World Bank Water and Sanitation Program, is supporting the Government of Ethiopia?s efforts to
achieve universal sanitation coverage by 2012 in the Amhara region of 20 million. Ethiopia offers key
lessons for an integrated scale approach with a national hygiene and sanitation strategy, multi-sectoral
collaboration facilitated by the signing of a memorandum of understanding by three line ministries
(health, water, and education), multiple implementation partners, and a comprehensive and strategic
approach with training and tools for working in households and communities. A regional water,
sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) movement has been created to mobilize stakeholders, build district
and village level capacity and support implementation at the district level using a Total Sanitation
approach. The program will launch activities in a minimum of 10 districts to achieve ?open
defecation-free communities.? Hygiene and sanitation behavior change is also reinforced using
?MIKIKIR,? an approach for negotiating improved behaviors that uses existing health extension
workers; a school WASH program, building knowledge and practice and encouraging school to
3) Build the supporting infrastructure and utilities for improved lifestyles, business
development and employment opportunities that integrate rural areas into the rest
of the economy.
Strengthening rural-urban growth linkages will require physical capital investments ?
particularly, water, electricity and roads ? to a scale that can accommodate expanding economic
investments in rural areas. For example, clean water and reliable power will be necessary for
processing and refrigerating agricultural products to meet increasingly rigorous food safety
standards. Such investments can be very costly and require high levels of management and
skilled maintenance. Where suitable, smaller-scale dams, for instance, can avoid costly
irrigation systems while generating labor-intensive employment.
Depending on location, there may be alternatives that make use of off-grid, mobile or scaleneutral
technologies at lower cost. Once initial fixed investments are made, such as a satellite
tower, other costs can be borne by users alone or partly financed through user fees. Rural
development offers an excellent opportunity to invest in sustainable green technologies that are
more affordable for rural communities and customers in the long run.
Box 4. Promoting Rural Infrastructure
Roads, Electricity and Water ? MCC is supporting the government of Armenia in the rehabilitation of
943 kms of rural roads. The Lifeline road network will ensure that every rural community has access
to major roads and markets. MCC is also supporting the construction of 18 irrigation schemes in
Armenia which will increase the land under irrigation by 40 percent. An MCC project in El Salvador
will help build roads connecting the northern third and poorest parts of the country to markets and
communities throughout the country as well as 115 kms of electrical lines and 250 solar panel systems
to bring electricity to this region. Water sanitation systems are also being built with project funds.
At Home
Energy - USDA provides grants and loan guarantees to agricultural producers, businesses and
cooperatives located in rural communities to purchase renewable energy systems and make other
energy efficiency improvements, to increase the economic viability of biomass projects, and to finance
energy technology.
Housing - Access for rural Americans to homeownership opportunities is provided by the USDA
along with programs for home renovation and repair. USDA also makes financing available to
elderly, disabled, or low-income rural residents of multi-unit housing buildings to ensure they are able
to make rent payments.
Information ? ?eXtension,? is the new national Internet resource of the Cooperative Extension Service
in partnership with the USDA?s Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service
Loans and Grants - In January, 2009, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that utilities in 13
American states have been selected to receive $18.1 million through USDA Rural Development's
Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program. "Providing capital to support small business
development and improve the quality of health care in rural communities is a key part of USDA Rural
Development's mission," Vilsack said.
Internet access is equally important to connect remote rural people and communities to the rest
of the country and the world. As one option, establishing broadband internet services via
satellite offers internet and telephone access, eliminating the need to build a fixed-line network.
The lessons we have learned include:
? The presence of ?hard? infrastructure (a sunk cost) makes a given rural community more
attractive to potential investors, an argument in favor of publicly supported sites and
? Deploying wireless infrastructure can rapidly connect previously unconnected
Please see Box 4 (above) for examples of relevant programs.
4) Link rural agricultural producers to both rural and urban markets and equip them
to respond to consumer preferences and market demand in terms of quality,
quantity and affordability.
Markets for rural products and services are critical for development. Reliable markets allow
rural people to specialize in fewer goods and services, thereby improving productivity and
incomes. Participation in well-performing markets puts rural communities on a path to
This requires making the smart investments that reduce the economic differentials ? such as
production costs, labor productivity, communications, transport, access to capital and technology
? that are the root causes of the income gap between rural and urban sectors. By reducing
operating costs in the rural sector, linking enterprises and institutions, and increasing the
mobility of capital and labor between urban and rural areas, rural people can receive and respond
to market signals like people elsewhere. Only then will they become an integral part of a unified
integrated economy.
Often, such integration includes extending market conditions, policies and protections that are in
effect in urban areas to rural areas ? appropriate transparent public policies and regulations;
property protection and contract enforcement; expanded access to information and financial
services; technical know-how and capacity for innovation; conditions that facilitate trade and
competitiveness; and access to training, technologies, assets and other business development
support systems that help people make beneficial and profitable economic choices. These
conditions will create jobs and increase incomes in the private sector.
The lessons we have learned include:
? Economic activities in rural areas must be broadly diversified to facilitate growth
linkages and smooth market fluctuations. Add value locally to capture additional
revenues and expand linkages with agriculture;
? Ready access to dependable sources of fuel, finance and transport to reduce economic
? Before designing a program, take stock of what rural people and communities are already
doing to improve their conditions. Work with those who have already invested in
? Align activities to build on, replicate and intensify people?s own innovations and
technologies that have already demonstrated sustainability;
? Be careful not to undermine local incentives. Rather, encourage local initiative and
enthusiasm. Reward entrepreneurship; and,
? Help rural communities anticipate and manage the impacts of the dynamic changes in
local and regional markets outside their usual areas.
Please see Boxes 5 and 6 for examples of relevant programs.
Box 5. U.S. Assistance Programs: Building Agricultural Value Chains
Agricultural Inputs - Following an assessment showing that Zambia?s smallholder farmers were
poorly served by the agricultural inputs industry, the USAID-funded Production, Finance and
Technology (PROFIT) project decided to revitalize the agricultural inputs industry using a value chain
and market facilitation approach. PROFIT?s strategy focused on improving the way in which input
firms understood, planned, and marketed their products to smallholders by redesigning input firm
business models and by shifting from a product focus (selling inputs) to a service focus (selling
services and advice). As a result, the retail cost of agricultural inputs decreased by as much as 50
percent; over 700 new jobs were created by the expansion of retail agricultural input suppliers; a
private sector-driven extension system is in place and growing; and, the number of third party service
providers (such as oxen-plowing, weeding, harvesting and transporting) in cotton out-grower schemes
is on the rise.
Promoting Value Chains - MCC has invested over US$ 500 million in promoting value-chain
agriculture in Armenia, Burkina Faso, Georgia, Cape Verde, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Morocco,
Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, Ghana, and Honduras.
Understanding Value Chains - In India, USAID asked Michigan State University to demonstrate how
a better understanding of value chains by farmers could help them capture greater value: from learning
how quality grades and product presentation determine price, mango producers adopted better
orchard-level hygiene, began grading (sorting out best-quality fruit) and packing in bruise-limiting
crates. Within two years farm profit was increased 50 percent.
Small Holders -In both Kenya and Indonesia, USAID agri-marketing initiatives helped groups of
small vegetable farmers adapt to supermarket and exporter demand by working cooperatively to
achieve quality standards and economic scale, thus greatly improving market access and incomes.
Producer Groups - In Senegal, USAID?s Wula Nafaa (WN) Program enabled Producer Groups to
become democratic, legally-recognized entities run according to business principles, and linked these
groups to private sector buyers. As a result, rural producers currently receive twice the former price
for Baobab fruit. To receive premium prices from a fruit company, the Producer Groups had to
provide high quality fruit, at a particular pick-up place and on-time. This meant that Producer Groups
had to make rules for the first time about when and how to harvest. This experience demonstrated that
their bargaining power was substantially higher as members of a well-managed group than as
individuals. It also showed that natural product value chains are substantially stronger when
producers are active stakeholders rather than passive producers of primary products.
Banking - USAID/Mali?s OHVN Program (Upper Niger River Development Program) supported,
inter alia, the development of democratic Producer Groups run on business principles. A structural
problem facing these Groups was the lack of credibility and trust between them and urban-based
banks and commercial interests. Under the this program, business and financial management training
were given to build the skills to develop business plans and bankable loan applications.
Cacao Producers -The U.S. State Department and the Humane Society International are helping small
cacao producer cooperatives in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Nicaragua satisfy environmentallyfriendly
certification requirements to produce high quality cacao using sustainable methods.
5) Restore and strengthen the connections between rural communities and the
surrounding environment through sustainable stewardship of natural resources.
Modest funding from USAID has catalyzed a transformational change in the way that rural
farmers manage their land in Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso. Adoption of farmer-managed
natural regeneration (FMNR) and complementary improved soil-water conservation measures
(SWC) have helped smallholders increase productivity, diversify income and convert "useless"
lands to highly productive lands by capturing rainwater instead of letting it run off. These
measures also raised ground-water levels in a number of places and allowed people to practice
dry-season irrigation. They also helped farmers reduce risks, especially capricious rainfall, and
manage the impact of drought better than non-adopters, selling fuelwood and fodder from trees
in their field for income to purchase grain.
Most notably, farmers are investing in these practices on their own ? the true measure of
sustainability ? driven by an enabling environment created by policy and institutional reforms,
farmer-to-farmer visits and strategic technical assistance. In particular, policy changes awarding
the right of farmers to manage trees on their own fields were closely associated with the take-off
of FMNR. In the long-run, neither FMNR nor SWC alone is sufficient for farmers to reap the
land's full potential. But, they form the foundation for the next step in agricultural
Box 6. Building Markets in the U.S.
Farmers Markets - USDA?s Agricultural Marketing Service operates the Farmers Market Promotion
Program (FMPP), created through a recent amendment of the Farmer-to-Consumer Direct Marketing
Act of 1976. The grants, authorized by the FMPP, are targeted to help improve and expand domestic
farmers markets, roadside stands, community-supported agriculture programs, agri-tourism activities,
and other direct producer-to-consumer market opportunities. Approximately $5 million is allocated for
FMPP for Fiscal Years 2009 and 2010 and $10 million for Fiscal Years 2011 and 2012. The maximum
amount awarded for any one proposal cannot exceed $75,000. Entities eligible to apply include
agricultural cooperatives, producer networks, producer associations, local governments, nonprofit
corporations, public health corporations, economic development corporations, regional farmer market
authorities and Tribal governments.
Business Assistance - USDA?s Agriculture Innovation Center Program was authorized by the Farm
Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, better known as the 2002 Farm Bill. In 2003, ten grants
were awarded to centers around the country to provide technical and business development assistance
to agricultural producers seeking to enter into ventures that add value to commodities or products they
Promoting Cooperatives - The mission of USDA?s Cooperative Services Program is to promote
understanding and use of the cooperative form of business as a viable organizational option for
marketing and distributing agricultural products. The program serves cooperative members, directors,
management, educational institutions, organizations, rural residents, and all others with an interest in
the cooperative form of business.
It is no surprise that environmental and economic sustainability are closely linked. Elements of
success in this area include:
? Promoting community-based land use planning, together with access to land and clear
and secure land rights;
? Redistributing natural resource authority and functions to fairly share oversight, planning
and implementation;
? Recognizing environmental procedural rights of rural people that are supported with
technical assistance;
? Strengthening market incentives for natural resource management; and
? Engaging rural residents in sustainable development partnerships.
Please see Boxes 7 and 8 for examples of relevant programs.
Box 7. U.S. Assistance Programs: Engaging Rural Residents in Partnerships
Eco-Tourism ? In three years, incomes have almost doubled in a five-village area of the communitybased
conservation and ecotourism ?payment for ecosystem services? (PES) site in Tmatboey,
Cambodia. The Wildlife Conservation Society project combines payments for nest and egg protection
for two critically endangered species ? Cambodia?s national bird, the Giant Ibis, and the even rarer
White-shouldered Ibis ? with tourism micro-enterprise development, paying villagers for tour guiding,
lodging, food, and other services.
Protecting Forests - A USAID-supported project in Madagascar's Makira forests is combining
certified "avoided deforestation" carbon sequestration payments with biodiversity conservation and
livelihood development, through local land use zoning in the 400,000 hectare buffer zone surrounding
and connecting three national parks and three special protected areas. An intermediary foundation
was set up to receive funds directly from international voluntary carbon markets. Fifty percent of the
receipts go directly to the Community Management Committees, and another 25% is used to support
on-the-ground jobs to implement and monitor the project, and to further develop alternative incomes
through tourism and natural products. Only 15% of the carbon revenue goes to the government.
Watershed Management ? An MCC initiative is building the capacity of the Cape Verde government
to manage its watershed resources, including the building of torrential correction dikes, dikes to
capture subsurface runoff, and water reservoirs.
Community Conservancies. In Namibia, one of USAID's most successful conservation programs
devolved the management of wildlife resources to local authorities, resulting in significant financial
benefits for participating communities. Direct incomes from these "community conservancies" rose
from $165,000 in 1998 to $5.5 million in 2007, with overall returns to the Namibian economy totaling
almost $34 million in 2007. With a financial incentive to conserve biodiversity, wildlife
conservancies in northwest Namibia have seen dramatic increases in important game species. There is
also evidence that such wildlife-based economic activity may be more adaptive to climate change than
traditional livestock and agriculture-based activities in this region.
Community Fisheries Management - USAID's investments in wetland protection in Bangladesh
reversed dramatic declines in inland fisheries. Eighty wetland sanctuaries were conserved through
habitat restoration and community fishery management, which resulted in a rebound of both the
quantity and diversity of fish as well the return of the wintering bird populations. The value of the
fisheries catch more than doubled to about $7.7 million in three wetland areas alone; this paralleled an
increase in the food protein supply for local people.
6) Address special vulnerabilities of rural people to economic recessions.
Those who live in the rural setting experience many of the impacts of downturns, sometimes
severely, and often without the benefit of distant social welfare programs or safety net
protections. For example, the incidence of households affected by the global food and fuel crisis
depends on indicators such as:
? household composition and demographics (availability of resident labor);
? distance to market centers (level of market participation);
? prevalent production technology (use of purchased inputs and/or mechanical traction);
? status as net seller or net buyer (and seasonality of market activity);
? access to banking and financial services (integration into the cash economy and/or
dependence on remittances from urban areas); and,
? food consumption pattern (predominance of local or imported foods in the diet).
In short, the transmission of higher food and fuel prices depends on the degree to which the
given rural area is woven into the global economy.
In the United States, the average farm family derives 85 percent of income off the farm. General
economic conditions and public policies affect rural along with urban and suburban people.
Consequently, general economic recessions affect farm and non-farm household receipts. Rural
economies tend to be tied strongly to the farm economy, both upstream and downstream,
meaning rising farm, fuel and food prices have ripple effects across the rural economy.
In our international and domestic programs, we have found that the following considerations
must be taken into account:
? Programs designed to protect against detrimental effects of economic downturns or price
shocks must take into account the special concerns and needs of rural residents and
? Rural residents need to maintain control of productive assets during periods of economic
stress to maintain livelihood resilience and avoid a downward cycle of poverty; and,
Box 8. U.S. Conservation Programs
?Coordination among federal, state and local agencies, non-governmental organizations and private
landowners who share the goal of conserving the natural resources and enhancing the environmental
quality of our nation?s agricultural lands is the most effective way of expanding the multiple
environmental benefits of USDA?s conservation programs. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works
closely with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Farm Service Agency and other
national, regional, state and local levels to help deliver a variety of Farm Bill conservation programs in
ways that benefit the nation?s fish and wildlife resources. One example is new conservation practices
under the Conservation Reserve Program, which benefit waterfowl and grassland birds in the Prairie
Pothole Region and species at-risk associated with longleaf pine habitats in the Southeast.? (From
speech by H. Dale Hall, Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Agricultural Outlook Forum, 2008,
? Design locally appropriate social protection measures, such as safety nets and guaranteed
employment schemes for the rural needy.
7) Strengthen the resilience of rural people to recover from extreme weather and other
systemic shocks.
As with economic conditions, rural communities and residents often suffer severely from
extreme weather and other unexpected disasters that undermine their livelihoods. Even the threat
of this risk can constrain investment, technology adoption and access to finance. To better
manage risk, we have found that the following are useful approaches:
? Promote better needs assessment methods, disaster prevention and preparedness
planning, adaptive methods and risk reduction programs and practices;
? Use scientific and technological advances for early warning and monitoring systems,
coupled with indigenous knowledge systems, that watch for predicted impacts in rural
? Take advantage of abundant factors of production ? especially labor ? when designing
recovery programs. Scale up labor-intensive systems that preserve labor and production
incentives before promoting capital-intensive programs; and,
Box 9. U.S. International Programs: Strengthening Community Resilience
Warning Systems - The SERVIR initiative integrates satellite observations, ground-based data and
forecast models to monitor and forecast environmental changes and to improve response to natural
disasters. Endorsed by governments of Central America and Africa, SERVIR is supported by NASA
and USAID. It has been used in 18 cases to provide early storm warnings, anticipate and respond to
flood events, mudslides, and wildfires, and monitor toxic algal blooms that impact the fishing industry
and public health.
Risk Management Programs - While insurance markets are still nascent in many countries, USAID?s
BASIS Assets and Market Access project is conducting several pilots to explore how best to promote
the use of indexed insurance in different development contexts. For example in Peru, USAID is
partnering with a local insurance company and an international re-insurer to pilot an area-based yield
insurance product for cotton farmers. In Northern Kenya, an indexed insurance product will be used
as a productive safety net for pastoralists. The impacts of these pilots will be closely monitored and
findings shared with stakeholders, policy makers and the development community.
Farmer-managed Natural Regeneration - FMNR is based on farm management of natural tree
regeneration. A 2007 study showed that Nigerian farmers who practiced FMNR were substantially
better protected from the effects of the 2005 drought than those who did not practice it. It has been
estimated that FMNR has spread from a few hectares in 1984 to over 5.0 million hectares today. The
factors behind its success include:
? Rights to manage on-farm trees conveyed to farmers from the state;
? Role of state agents changed from police to partner; and,
? Right of farmers to sell fuelwood on open market.
Reducing Risk - People facing severe climatic variability have successfully used NRM strategies to
reduce risks while increasing productivity and diversifying household incomes. For example, in the
Sahel, disenfranchised women and others converted hundreds of thousands of hectares of ?useless?
hardpans (glacis) into productive fields by using soil and water conservation technologies. By
trapping nearly 100% of the water where it falls instead of letting 75% or more run-off, farmers not
only reduced risks of catastrophic crop failures and increased yields, but they allowed ground water
tables to build up during the rainy season.
? Facilitate development of risk management instruments such as indexed insurance
products that help protect farmers, pastoralists and other rural residents.
Please see Box 9 for specific examples of relevant programs.
In the United States, numerous federal agencies work with state and local partners to assist in the
recovery from natural disasters and other events. For example, last year after extraordinary
rainfall and flooding in the Midwest, the U.S. Department of Agriculture?s National Agricultural
Statistics Service (NASS) assessed the impact on the 2008 crop acreage. The USDA Rural
Development Agency makes funds available for disaster assistance to restore rural housing,
community facilities and businesses in the wake of floods, fires and other natural disasters. The
USDA Food and Nutrition Service distributes emergency food assistance as needed.
8) Ensuring that the special needs and expectations of rural men and women are met
Quite often, women are the backbone of rural communities. They are farmers, caregivers and
homemakers. They often work harder and longer but earn less than men. And yet, their needs
are just as often disregarded socially and culturally, as well as legally. Empowering them,
listening to them, and addressing their needs are key elements of successful sustainable
development efforts.
Basic education and access to micro-finance can unlock productive energies of women and
provide some measure of financial independence. A next step is to improve the business
management skills of women and develop their entrepreneurial talent (Box 10).
In the United States, women?s needs have been addressed through the programs of the
Cooperative Extension Service and the Food, Nutrition and Consumer Service. Historically,
extension programs addressed the needs of farm women for improved sanitation, nutrition, and
farm household management. As the years have passed, needs of rural entrepreneurs have been
targeted and programs provided to address family financial management, child development, and
technology transfer.
In conclusion, our vision of rural sustainable development is to make rural life economically
more rewarding and socially more fulfilling. Necessary conditions include empowering rural
people and communities ? with greater responsibility for their natural environment and
sustainable use of rural resources ? and building the necessary infrastructure and policy
environment that enable sustainable economic growth, create jobs and reduce urban-rural
disparities. This requires systematic planning and foresight to develop stimulating and viable
opportunities for present and future generations so that each investment contributes to building
an attractive way of life.
Box 10. U.S. Assistance Programs: Empowering Women and Youth
Cooperatives: USAID is supporting several programs that empower rural women. In Senegal, the
Koba Club, a female-run business cooperative, is using USAID support to obtain fonio (a traditional
cereal crop) processing machines and to remodel workshops for improved hygiene. As result, the
Club?s revenues have increased by several fold, and Koba members are able to send children to school
and pay for their medical bills.
Strengthening Leadership Skills - In Eastern Afghanistan, USAID?s Alternative Livelihoods Program
is helping to strengthen women-owned poultry, vegetable, forestry and agro-processing enterprises in
rural communities. USAID?s South Caucasus Water Program provided training to women from rural
communities in Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan in effective water resource management and
community mobilization so that they could more fully participate in local, water use decision making
processes. And in Sri Lanka, USAID helped rural women regain their livelihoods after the tsunami by
quickly helping to purchase and distribute 500 spinning units and bales of coir (coconut husk) used for
rope production.
Women and Youth - USAID-funded programs in Senegal, Botswana, and Mali provided women and
youth with pathways to power by strategically targeting them for enterprise and financial management
training. After acquiring these specialized skills, members of these formerly-disenfranchised groups
assumed key financial management roles in community-based enterprises. In each case, their
performance boosted benefits for the whole community and demonstrated the wisdom of actively
engaging women and youth. For these villages, the lesson was that to be competitive in today?s
economy, rural groups had to capitalize their whole talent pool, not just that of traditional leaders.