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     ththNovember 10 and 11 2005



1. Introduction

     The aim of this paper is to analyse how aid policies deal with the issue of Skills

    Development for Rural People (SDRP). It is meant to be an input for the next Working Group

    meeting on “Skills Development for Rural People”, which will take place in Rome on ththNovember 10-11 2005. We first try to define how SDRP appears in three recent 2international documents: the Sachs Report on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), 3the Commission for Africa Report and the World Bank Education Strategy Update (draft 4version). Second, we attempt to understand the place given to SDRP in agencies strategies.

    The third part of this paper goes deeper into the nature of agencies activities in SDRP. Finally,

    we analyze the place given to SRDP in South-South cooperation and compare those less

    known agencies activities with those of agencies in the North.

     The preparation of this paper is based on the analysis of the three reports and on the

    review of agencies websites. In order to attain a high degree of exhaustiveness, most

    multilateral and bilateral agencies in the North and in the South have been taken into account.

    However, the information available on the websites is quite heterogeneous: in most cases, it

    is difficult to go beyond the discourses and the strategies, though in some cases it is possible

    to review each programme, and sometimes even the projects that have been made in the

    past, thus enabling one to follow the evolution of the agencies activities. Moreover, rural

    development remains an ongoing debate in most agencies and websites are not always

    regularly updated.

     1 This background document has been prepared by Juliane Ineichen (SDC) and Frédérique Weyer

    (WG Secretariat), with the supervision of Michel Carton. 2 Investing in Development: A Practical Plan to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals, presented to General Secretary Kofi Annan by Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, January 2005. 3 Commission for Africa, Our Common Interest: Report of the Commission for Africa, March 2005. 4 World Bank, Achieving the MDGs: Broadening our Perspective, Maximizing our Effectiveness, Education Sector Strategy Update, draft, May 2005.

    Secretariat: c/o iuéd, Norrag, 20 r. Rothschild, P.O.B. 136, CH-1211 Geneva 21

    Tel. +4122 906 59 01, Fax. +4122 906 59 47, e-mail:

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     SDRP is a crossroad issue, which means that it can be tackled from different

    perspectives. For this paper we selected two points of view: the angle of skills development,

    or education and training, and the angle of rural or agricultural development.

    2. SDRP in recent key international documents

    The Education Sector Strategy Update is a review of the 1999 World Bank Education

    Strategy. The previous focus was mainly on basic education. The World Bank is pointing

    now to the new challenges it has to face in a changing environment. Though skills

    development for rural population is not explicitly mentioned in the document, education is

    linked to agriculture and rural development: schooling increases agricultural productivity and

    literacy facilitates communication outreach to farmers and rural communities, organisational

    capacity, and participation. Improvements in rural income facilitate school enrolments and

    attendance as well.

    The Sachs Report links rural skills development and rural population mainly for people

    without any access to land or activity in agriculture. Skills development would help them

    accessing non-agricultural job market and promote the development of this sector. The

    Sachs Report also advocates for global human resources training efforts in urban as well as

    in rural areas for the Millennium Development Goals: “International agencies and bilateral

    donors should work with low-income countries to prepare serious strategies and training

    materials for use at the village and city level. Global champions are needed for this initiative

    to set targets and confirm financial commitments to train, as first priorities: village specialists

    in health, soil nutrients, irrigation, land reclamation, drinking water, sanitation, electricity,

    5vehicle repair, road maintenance, and forest management . . .”

    The Commission for Africa Report simply points out that rural areas have the lowest

    level of basic schooling and that people from rural areas have a limited access to secondary


    Those three documents illustrate the different interpretations given to SDRP on the

    international agenda: schooling increases agricultural productivity, organisational capacity,

    and participation; skills development improves the chance of obtaining an income-generating

    activity; and the relationship between rural poverty and a low level of schooling. These

    associations are also recurrent in cooperation agencies strategies. But before going further on,

    let us clarify how the notion of “rural” development will be used in this paper.

     6For Ashley and Maxwell, the main criterion used to define rural areas are: low density of population, people spending most of their working time on farms, abundance and relative

    cheapness of land, high transaction costs associated with long distance and poor

    infrastructure, geographical conditions that increase political transaction costs and magnify

    the possibility of elite capture or urban bias. We assume however that recent trends in rural

    areas, as for instance the growing mobility of the population, as well as the increasing

    diversification of their income-generating activities Ellis estimates that in sub-Saharan

     5 Investing in Development, op. cit., p. 63. The list continues with other types of human resources:

    “Managers in investment planning, budgeting, computer-based information systems, poverty mapping,

    and sector needs assessments; Teachers, doctors, and other skilled professionals to provide services

    in education and health; Professionals for urban planning and urban infrastructure and services (such

    as electricity, transport, water, waste management, and industrial zoning) and community

    development agents to promote local participation, gender equality and minority rights”. 6 Ashley Caroline and Maxwell Simon, “Rethinking Rural Development”, Development Policy Review,

    19 (4), 2001, pp. 395425.

    Secretariat: c/o iuéd, Norrag, 20 r. Rothschild, P.O.B. 136, CH-1211 Geneva 21

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Africa non-farm income sources represent in average from 30 to 50 percent of farm 7household overall income question the relevance of the notion of rural.

     7 Ellis Frank, “Household Strategies and Rural Livelihood Diversification”, The Journal of Development

    Studies, 35 (1), October 1998, pp. 138.

    Secretariat: c/o iuéd, Norrag, 20 r. Rothschild, P.O.B. 136, CH-1211 Geneva 21

    Tel. +4122 906 59 01, Fax. +4122 906 59 47, e-mail:

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3. SDRP in agencies strategies

    The issue of SDRP raises the question of the coordination between Skills

    Development (SD) and rural and agricultural development. SD is generally conceived as a

    subsector of the education sector, and at the same time it is conceived as an instrument for

    rural/agricultural development as well as for other sector-based programmes. The debate on

    the role and place of SD within agencies organisation is not new: it has been ongoing during 8the 1990s on the relationships between SD and small enterprise development.

    A first result of the review is that SDRP is much more present in rural/agricultural development strategies than it is in education/training strategies. The latter are considered as

    countrywide policies, and they tend to focus on basic education. This focus on basic

    education is much more pronounced in some agencies than in others. For instance, the

    Belgian cooperation agency, insisting on the embedding of education’s different levels and

    types, is oriented to a sector-wide approach that combines intervention on different levels and 9types of education. On the other extreme, the trend in the UK Department for International

    Development (DFID) is to concentrate all its education work on a specific type of education:

    schooling at primary level.

    The emphasis placed on basic education by most agencies masks discrepancies on the way basic education is defined: for the New Zealand’s International Aid & Development

    Agency (NZAID), it encompasses ten years of education, literacy programmes as well as

    indigenous education initiatives, technical/vocational education and training, and distance

    learning, while it means six years of primary schooling for the French Ministry of Foreign


    Agencies strategies do not consider a specific education and training policy for the rural population. Actually, the rural population as a particular public appears scarcely in

    education and training documents. When it does appear, it is as a disadvantaged group that

    needs particular attention. On the UNESCO website for instance, “rural poor” is a

    subcategory of “access and equity”, which is itself a subcategory of “technical and vocational

    education”, as well as “people with disabilities” or “war affected individuals”. For the African

    Development Bank too, rural development and agriculture are strongly linked to the fight

    against poverty, and rural areas are considered as disadvantaged areas in terms of access to


    When SDRP appears in agencies strategies, it is mostly in rural or agricultural development strategies. After having declined since the end of the 1980s, rural and

    agricultural development strategies have acquired a growing importance in agencies policies.

    There is an increasing consensus among international development partners that poverty

    reduction targets (national and global) as expressed by the international community in the

    Millennium Development Declaration will not be met unless rural poverty is reduced.

     8 For a analysis of this debate, see Donors Policies in Skills Development, Working Group Paper

    no. 2, 1997. All the WG papers are available on NORRAG website (<>). 9 In Direction générale de la coopération au développement (Coopération belge au développement),

    Note stratégique éducation et formation, septembre 2002. 10 The conceptualisation of the rural population as disadvantaged has a large history in the occidental

    discourse on peasants. The rural population has also recurrently been associated with backwardness

     in terms of productivity or in terms of material conditions. The conceptualisation of peasants as

    backward has been criticised from different angles: first, because it means applying ethnocentric

    categories which give a restricted vision of other realities, without considering the local categories;

    second, because it emerges from an evolutionist view of progress, where the rural must catch up with

    the industrialised countries. What does it mean to reduce the education issue to the statement that

    access to schooling is too low? Which value are we giving to the local forms of transfer of knowledge

    and competencies? Is schooling the most appropriate way to stimulate social progress in rural areas?

    Secretariat: c/o iuéd, Norrag, 20 r. Rothschild, P.O.B. 136, CH-1211 Geneva 21

    Tel. +4122 906 59 01, Fax. +4122 906 59 47, e-mail:

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    After many years of neglect, agricultural and rural development is regaining

    momentum in donors’ strategies documents. It is now considered as a sector in some agencies. The World Bank has for instance a “Department of Agriculture and Rural

    Development”. But agencies usually integrate rural development promotion in agriculture or

    natural resources departments (examples of the British, Swedish and Canadian international 11development agencies, DFID, SIDA and CIDA). Two agencies propose a different approach. For the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), rural development is an

    issue in three divisions: natural resources & environment, social development, and

    employment & income divisions; and each one has a person in charge among other tasks

    within his/her division of rural development. These three persons are organised in a

    coordination group which integrates the several dimensions of rural development and have a

    common conceptual overview of it. As for the German cooperation agency (GTZ), rural

    development has recently disappeared from the organisational chart. The regional

    development specialists are distributed to their respective line departments and sectors.

    Under the division “agricultural sciences”, a so-called “service centre” has been created. It consists of a one-stop arrangement for customers of rural development projects in form of

    three persons (one each for Asia, Africa and Latin America), who are liaising with the different 12services required.

    Efforts are made by the donors to have a common understanding of development

    approaches for rural areas and implement them in collaboration with partner countries. But

    the definitions of what is “rural development” and what is the role of SDRP differ from one

    organisation to another. Three main types of definition appear, each according to its

    development objective:

    ? Rural development as poverty reduction in rural areas

The aim of the Australian Government's Overseas Aid Program (AusAID) strategy for the

    rural development sector is “to focus on reducing rural poverty by increasing opportunities for

    the poor to generate income”. Education and training are considered as a mean to enhance 13economic employment opportunities in the non-farm sector. In other words, education and training enable people to diversify into non-farm income-generating activities, which is

    considered as a solution for rural poverty.

    ? Rural development as agricultural development and food security

According to the FAO, “the overwhelming majority of the world’s poor live in rural areas in

    developing countries and depend on agriculture for their livelihood. Agricultural development 14is therefore vital for poverty alleviation and for access to sufficient food.” One option for most

    of these countries, if they are to improve their food security and nutrition, would be to

    increase their agricultural productivity and raise small-farmer income by enhancing their skills.

    ? Rural development as an instrument to increase productivity and growth

For the World Bank, agriculture is the primary source not only of food security, but also of

    growth and household poverty reduction. For the Asian Development Bank as well, the extent

     11 Andreas Schild, What’s New in Rural Development?, Input Paper for the Strategy Discussion on Rural Development in SDC, June 2004. 12 Ibid. The website for GTZ Services for Rural Development is:

    <>. 13 Source: AusAID, Income Generation for the Rural Poor: The Australian Aid Program's Rural

    Development Strategy, 2000, 16 p. 14 <>.

    Secretariat: c/o iuéd, Norrag, 20 r. Rothschild, P.O.B. 136, CH-1211 Geneva 21

    Tel. +4122 906 59 01, Fax. +4122 906 59 47, e-mail:

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to which new sources of growth can be tapped depends on the market access, the quality,

    skill level and adaptability of the rural labour force. Other agencies emphasise the link

    between education and agricultural productivity. The agricultural strategy of the US Agency

    for International Development (USAID) focuses on enhancing productivity for poverty 15reduction, and poor access to education (and health) is considered as a factor that reduces 16productivity. All these examples illustrate this argumentation that highlights the association

    between SD and productivity.

    Some agencies strategies are spread over two strategies. For instance, the French

    Ministry of Foreign Affairs links its sector-based strategy on agriculture and food security to

    the first MDG on reduction of poverty and hunger. This strategy breaks down into two main

    lines: reduction of precariousness and exclusion, and enhancement of family agriculture

    achievements. In the first one, putting the priority on the social aspects of development

    suggests enhancing access to school and other basic services. The second one insists on the 17necessity to strengthen human capacities and youth and adults training. The Japan

    International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is one of the rare agencies to distinguish and define

    explicitly what is meant by rural and agricultural development: “JICA perceives its two main

    tasks in agricultural and rural development to be: (1) support for stable food supply (food

    security) and (2) alleviation of poverty (rural development). These two tasks are intimately 18related.”

    A Global Donor Platform for Rural Development (composed mainly of western 19agencies and international organisations) has been created with the ultimate objective of reducing poverty and enhancing economic growth in developing countries’ rural areas

    through improved donor cooperation, collaboration, and coordinated dialogue with partner


    Based on the review of agencies strategies, we have distinguished different ways of

    defining agricultural and rural development. Each one of these definitions is linked to specific

    objectives poverty reduction, food security and growth. The role given to SDRP is

    conditioned by the skills that are needed to attain each objective and by the way in which the

    rural population’s present realities are interpreted. Two discourses on the rural population are

    emerging from this interpretation of rural realities, one in which the rural population is

    considered as economic agents, and the other in which it is considered as a marginalised

    social group. They can be distinguished but both of them are present in the agencies

    strategies. Poverty is probably the most frequent association, but most of the strategies

    mention the new challenges emerging from the increasing insertion in the global markets,

    and the increasing importance of non-agricultural work in income-generating activities.

4. Agencies activities in SDRP

    The articulation between education/training and rural/agricultural development, even if

    it is not visible in the strategies defined according to the sector-based division of each agency,

    may appear at the project level. SDRP may constitute a project per se or a component of a

    rural/agricultural development project. According to a screening of agencies activities, four

    levels of intervention in SDRP can be distinguished:

     15 <>. 16 <>. 17 Source: Comité interministériel pour la coopération internationale et le développement, Stratégie

    sectorielle. Agriculture et sécurité alimentaire, 2005. 18 Source: <>. 19 BMZ, EU, global.finland, ADB, FAO, IFAD, UN ECOSOC, World Bank, SIDA, OECD, CIDA, DFID,

    SDC, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, USAID, WFP.

    Secretariat: c/o iuéd, Norrag, 20 r. Rothschild, P.O.B. 136, CH-1211 Geneva 21

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Policy level

    The articulation between skills development and rural/agricultural development can be

    concretised as technical advice for the design and implementation of policies. For instance,

    one of the priorities of CIDA’s strategy in agricultural development is to support capacity

    building in the elaboration and implementation of commercial policies in agriculture, and

    more broadly to support sector-based analysis, national policies elaboration and strategic 20planning.

Capacity building for key resource persons

    SDRP may happen at the level of capacity building for key resource persons

    (researchers, co-operative leader, etc.). For instance, the Korea International Cooperation

    Agency (KOICA) offers training programmes to government officials, policy makers, 21researchers and instructors on theories, knowledge and technique in agricultural production.

Community level

    At the community level, SD appears often as component of a broader project.

    However, we also find support at the community level in the framework of decentralisation

    processes and projects aiming at promoting basic education in rural areas. For instance,

    one of the AFD (Agence française de développement) projects in Togo aims at developing 22demand for education in two disadvantaged regions.

Support to universities, agricultural training and research centres

     23According to the World Bank 1998 report on support for agricultural education, both

    domestic investment and external support have weakened during the 1990s. However

    agricultural education and training remains a fundamental part of activities in SDRP in some

    agencies, as for instance in the Instituto Português de Apoio ao Desenvolvimento (IPAD),

    which supports notably an undergraduate programme on rural and environment engineering 24in Cape Verde. Another example is that one of the priorities of the Norwegian Ministry of

    Foreign Affairs is to support agriculture-related education following basic schooling and in 25higher education.

5. SDRP in South-South co-operation

     It is interesting to note that even if the place given to training might be much stronger

    than it is in northern agencies, the type of activities developed by agencies in the South is

    similar: the Aga Khan Foundation provides support to a rural education programme in order

    to reduce household dependence on opium poppy cultivation and improve options for 26alternate, licit rural income in Afghanistan. Mexico offers distance training for teachers in

     20 ACDI/CIDA, Promoting Sustainable Development through Agriculture, 2003. 21 Source: <>. 22 Source: 23 Willett Anthony, Summary of an Agricultural Education Review: Support for Agricultural Education

    in the World Bank and Other Donors, The World Bank, 1998. 24 Source: <>. 25 Source: Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Fighting Poverty through Agriculture: Norwegian Plan of Action for Agriculture in Norwegian Development Policy, 2004. 26 <>.

    Secretariat: c/o iuéd, Norrag, 20 r. Rothschild, P.O.B. 136, CH-1211 Geneva 21

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    27rural areas in Central America, while Brazil provides training linked with the introduction of

    new agriculture technologies (Guinea-Bissau, Timor East) and literacy programmes (Cape 28Verde, Sao Tome), and supports centres in agricultural investigation (Angola, Mozambique).

     Although the strategies of southern agencies do not refer to the MDGs, the distinction

    made earlier regarding the objectives for rural development of agencies in the North is also 29valid: the objective of poverty reduction is highlighted by the Arab Cooperation, which advocates for support in health, education and training, “particularly for girls and women and

    people living in rural areas”, along with strong efforts to abolish illiteracy, especially in the less developed Arab countries. Agricultural productivity and food security at household, national

    and regional level are the overall objectives of the Southern African Development 30Community's “Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Directorate”. Finally, in its cooperation with Africa, China focuses on agriculture, conceived as the engine for economic

    growth, and seek as a priority to reassert the value of human resource in the agricultural 31sector.

    27 Source: Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores, Boletín de la cooperación técnica y científica, no. 1, eneroabril 2004, México. 28 Source: <>. 29 <>. 30 <>. 31 China proposes radical measures to help African economies: access to the Chinese market with

    reduced or abolished taxes on some products; adding more African countries to its list of tourist

    countries, since tourism is an important source for foreign currencies. Source:


    Secretariat: c/o iuéd, Norrag, 20 r. Rothschild, P.O.B. 136, CH-1211 Geneva 21

    Tel. +4122 906 59 01, Fax. +4122 906 59 47, e-mail:

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