Retreat on "Rural Development: Afro-Asian Perspective",Hyderabad,

8 - 11 January 2007

African-Asian Rural Development Organization (AARDO) in collaboration with the Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India organised a retreat on the above titled theme at the National Institute of Rural Development (NIRD), Hyderabad, India on 8-11 January 2007.The Retreat was inaugurated by H E Mr Chandra Sekhar Sahu, Hon'ble Minister of State for Rural Development, Government of India. Dr Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy, Hon'ble Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh and H E Mr Abdalla Yahia Adam, Secretary General, AARDO delivered their addresses during the inaugural session.

The Retreat was attended by 29 participants from 17 AARDO member countries, namely, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, R O China, Egypt, Ghana, India, Jordan, R O Korea, Malaysia, Mauritius, Morocco, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Sudan, Syria and Zambia. In addition, expert papers from Centre on Integrated Rural Development for Asia and the Pacific (CIRDAP) and Centre on Integrated Rural Development for Africa (CIRDAfrica) were presented. One keynote paper and four theme papers were presented by experts from India. Besides, the country papers were also presented by the respective delegates of the participating countries.

In order to arrive at appropriate recommendations, the participants were divided into four syndicate groups to deliberate on the following themes:

i) Poverty Alleviation in Rural Areas - Priority and Policy Framework
ii) Gender Issues and Role of Women in Rural Development
iii) Successful Approaches/Practices of Rural Development
iv) Bilateral, Regional Partnership for Rural Development and Marketing of Rural Products

The participants gave their set of major recommendation which are as follows :

1 Governments should view expenditure on poverty reduction and social and human development as investment for sustainable economic growth.
2 There should be substantial flow of resources, including external assistance, into agriculture and other rural development activities.
3 The capacity building of functionaries in health, education and other sectors to improve the effective and efficient use of resources should be given emphasis.
4 Decentralisation of development functionaries and strengthening local institutions is needed for citizen-centric governance. 'Rights perspectives' should be integral to poverty reduction strategies.
5 Public-public, public-private and public-community-private partnerships should be promoted for pooling and using resources more effectively.
6 Policies and programmes of governments should facilitate and ensure adequate flow of credit to agriculture and other activities in rural areas.
7 Integrated watershed development/land development initiatives should be encouraged on a wider scale for natural resource management and also support the livelihoods of the rural poor.
8 Institutions/organisations should be asked to carry out research to develop and transfer appropriate and affordable technologies to rural areas that promote employment and increase of productivity.
9 An inventory of proven technologies including ICT applications in Afro-Asian region should be shared and disseminated for replication and adoption. A network of R&D institutions and agencies may be established.
10 As part of social safety net systems, government should evolve mechanisms to promote insurance (through subsidies for the poor) both by public and private sectors besides other social security measures.
11 Organising rural poor into community based organisations and self-help groups and federate them to facilitate the empowerment of the poor by involving NGOs and other civil society organisations.
12 Generation and use of alternative renewable energy sources should receive greater attention and a part of external assistance should be used to support such initiatives.
13 Governments should allocate larger share of their budget for development of socio-economic infrastructure in sectors like health, water, education, nutrition, connectivity and housing. The poor should be provided these services free of cost.
14 Youth are a vital resource. They need to be appropriately oriented, supported through skill development and finance to mainstream them in development process.
15 Institutions of local governments (village and community level organisations) can play a vital role in field level coordination and also convergence of various rural development programmes/projects implemented by different government and non-government agencies. There is a need to strengthen institutions so that the rural people are empowered to participate in local level governance and decision making processes.
16 It is necessary that the governments should give high priority for rural infrastructure development and upgradation of available infrastructure to make them effective for local areas.
17 A set of parameters is required to identify the poor and their requirement which will help in designing need based programmes and projects
18 The private sector is also gaining from the expansion of market in the rural areas. Hence, private sector should also invest in rural development and poverty alleviation as their social responsibility.
19 For development of rural enterprises, rural poor need technical training for improving their skills, business activities such as accounting, quality control and marketing of products. Appropriate linkages between producers and growth centres/market centres should be established.
20 Governments should support micro-finance institutions to ensure that low cost micro-finance is available to the rural poor.
21 Government and communities should recognise the need to protect and promote full human rights and fundamental freedom of women and also ensure women's participation in decision-making at all levels.
22 All countries should develop gender segregated data on all critical parameters to identify and ensure that gender disparities are eliminated in the areas of employment, remuneration, work load and access to and control over land and other resources such as credit, technologies, marketing and other services.
23 Governments should provide accessible reproductive health services including education in reproductive health and enabling women to exercise their reproductive rights.
24 To address gender imbalances in education and training, countries should adopt affirmative actions including scholarships at all levels for female students, non-formal education and literacy programmes for women.
25 Governments should take necessary legal, policy, administrative and other measures for the prevention and elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls. Adequate rehabilitation measures must be established in all AARDO countries for women refugees, IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons), women affected by calamities and natural disasters.
26 Gender mainstreaming and sensitization should be there in each and every programme of the state. In order to focus attention on the gender aspect of the development issues, there should be a conference of AARDO countries on Gender Issues' on Rural Development.
27 Major share of international aid flow should be allocated to development of rural areas focussing on:
Basic minimum needs including health care, education, water and sanitation and rural housing;
Agriculture productivity and food production for food security;
Rural infrastructure - physical (e.g. roads, irrigation, electricity etc.) and institutional (e.g. markets, community organizations);
Employment generation - focussing on micro and small enterprises development and community assets; and
Rural credit including micro-finance.
28 The aid should also be channelled to improve :
Governance capabilities - decentralisation, awareness building, skill development;
Agriculture growth; and
Facilitating opportunities for participation of poor, marginalised/ disadvantaged groups and women.
29 The developing countries should enhance capacities to articulate their demand and mode of aid flow. The aid flow should have substantial component of development aid. The aid should also focus on building local capacities/expertise for planning and managing development projects and do research on problems of their countries.
30 The international aid and assistance should be, as much as possible, unrestricted budget support to promote investments in agriculture, education, health, rural infrastructure, diversifying export etc., to achieve goals of poverty reduction.
31 The form of aid flow should be a proper mix of both knowledge-based instruments and finance-based instruments. In respect of finance-based instruments, it should be largely in the form of grants.
32 Existing regional co-operative initiatives like ECOWAS, ECA, COMESA, SAARC, ASEAN, ACSAD, ICARDA & OPEC should be strengthened, with required capacities to function more effectively.
33 Regional co-operation in the field of ICT offers rich and wide scope, particularly to improve the rural connectivity and communication which needs to be explored.
34 The organizations like CIRDAfrica, CIRDAP, AARDO may play a crucial role in preparing an inventory of available cost-effective and appropriate technologies within the region.
35 Afro-Asian regional co-operation in the form of providing services and experts to build capacities among locals for effective use of aid is an area that needs to be explored, as initiatives coming from within than from outside are likely to produce better results. The spirit of South-South cooperation should be actively pursued in Afro-Asian region.
36 The region has many national and international organisations/institutions, universities, institutions of excellence and reputed NGOs to provide education, professional skills and expertise in community driven development process. Bilateral, multilateral arrangements for faculty exchange, training, and taking up research studies should be explored.
37 In areas/aspects that have multi-country ramifications, working together is important. International aid agencies should assist projects that bring about linkages between such countries
38 International donors like the World Bank, IFC, IFAD etc., should stipulate a condition to corporates and multinationals who wish to do business in this region to take responsibilities to invest in and address social, health and infrastructure issues.
39 Countries in the region should vigorously promote and insist on 'corporate social responsibility' for private sector.
40 Technology for quality improvement, value addition, standardisation, product design etc., can be shared through establishing a network to enable rural products to be part of global supply chain. An exclusive agency at national and regional level could be established to promote rural products.
41 A co-operative and collective approach by Afro-Asian countries is necessary to face the challenges arising out of WTO to developing countries. With a view to increase the collective strength, we must bring in more countries into the fold of AARDO.
42 Micro and small enterprises that predominate the Afro-Asian region need to be protected, supported and strengthened by technology upgradation and sharing of market intelligence. A proper mechanism for this may be evolved.

Inter-Ministerial Summit on "Rural Development : Afro-Asian Perspective",New Delhi, 12 January 2007

The Inter-Ministerial Summit on Rural Development was organised by African-Asian Rural Development Organization (AARDO) in collaboration with the Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India at New Delhi on 12 January 2007. The Summit was inaugurated by H E Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, President of the Republic of India. The Summit was addressed by Dr Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, Hon'ble Union Minister for Rural Development, Government of India, Mr Chandra Sekhar Sahu, Minister of State for Rural Development, Government of India and H E Mr Abdalla Yahia Adam, Secretary General, AARDO. It was attended by, among others, the Hon'ble Ministers of nine AARDO member countries, namely, Republic of China, Arab Republic of Egypt, Republic of Ghana, Republic of India, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Malaysia, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Islamic Republic of Pakistan and Syrian Arab Republic. The recommendations of the Retreat, after due modifications, were adopted by the august house as the "New Delhi Declaration".