Rural -Urban Linkages, Their Role in Sustainable Development.

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Although policy makers and the development community have widely used the phrase “rural development. The concept of rural development has changed significantly during the last 3 decades. Until the 1970s, rural development was synonymous with agricultural development and, hence, focused on increasing agricultural production. This focus seems to have been driven primarily by the interests of industrialization to extract surpluses from the agriculture sector to reinforce industrialization. With the focus on increasing agricultural production, the stated objective of most countries was to promote smallholder agriculture. Over time, this smallholder agriculture-centric concept of rural development underwent changes. By the early 1980s, according to Harris, the World Bank defined it as “…a strategy designed to improve the economic and social life of a specific group of people—the rural poor.” Four major factors appear to have influenced the change: increased concerns about the persistent and deepening of rural poverty; changing views on the meaning of the concept of development itself; emergence of a more diversified rural economy in which rural non-farm enterprises play an increasingly important role; and increased recognition of the importance of reducing the non-income dimensions of poverty to achieve sustainable improvements in the socio economic well-being of the poor. The establishment of the Millennium Development Goals has significantly reinforced the concerns about non income poverty. With the paradigm shifts in economic development from growth to broadly defined “development,” the concept of rural development has begun to be used in a broader sense. It is also more specific, as Harris noted “in the sense that it focuses (in its rhetoric and in principle) particularly on poverty and inequality.” In more recent years, increased concerns on the environmental aspects of economic growth have also influenced the changes. Today’s concept of rural development is fundamentally different from that used about 3 or 4 decades ago. The concept now encompasses “concerns that go well beyond improvements in growth, income, and output. The concerns include an assessment of changes in the quality of life, broadly defined to include improvement in health and nutrition, education, environmentally safe living conditions, and reduction in gender and income inequalities. “Today there seems to be a universal consensus that the ultimate objective of rural development is to improve the quality of life of rural people. As the concept of rural development changed so has the focus and approach to tackling and planning for rural development also change. Thus as already explained, today rural development is an integrated concept that that requires an integrated approach to development .thus the focus now is on sustainable development; hence an integrated sustainable rural development strategy is used to plan for rural development. However in order to successively design a strategy for integrated sustainable rural development, one must take into consideration rural-urban linkages because of the significant role it plays in sustainable rural development.

Before proceeding with a discussion about the role that rural-urban linkages play in integrated rural sustainable development strategy, it may be necessary to define rural-urban linkages. In general, “rural-urban linkages” refers to the flow of (public and private) capital, people (migration, commuting) and goods and services (trade) between rural and urban areas. It is important to add to these three economic flows, the flow of ideas, innovation and information. These rural urban linkages could be expanded as; * The movement of people between rural and urban households many of which are of circular nature. These include temporary migration(as in seasonal moves ) and labour migration including weekly...
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