United Nations Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for
the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and
Small Island Developing States (OHRLLS)
Segment of the ECOSOC Session
"Promoting an integrated approach to rural development in developing
countries for poverty eradication and sustainable development"
30 June 2003
and Distinguished Delegates,
have before us the excellent report of the Secretary-General
on "Promoting an integrated approach to rural development in
developing countries". It addresses a broad range of issues
relating to rural development and provides policy recommendations
on how to promote rural development in an integrated and cohesive
way. Furthermore, the report has rightly touched on the relevance
and importance of rural development for Least Developed Countries
700 million people living in the least developed countries represent
the poorest part of the world population. Majority of them live
in rural areas. The Brussels Programme of Action (BPoA) for
the LDCs for the Decade 2001-2010 recognises the pivotal role
of rural development for the LDCs. It emphasizes that "lack
of food security is the most typical face of poverty for both urban
and rural people in LDCs. Some 70 per cent of the poor and food
insecure are rural dwellers, many of whom are small farmers who
produce on the brink of survival, or landless people trying to sell
development is an integral part of the Brussels Programme. It is
based on the principles and objectives of the Millennium Declaration.
Commitment 4 of the Programme focuses on "Building productive
capacities to make globalisation work for the LDCs" and contains
specific recommendations to the LDCs and their development partners
in the area of rural development and food security.
order to eradicate poverty and hunger, agricultural productivity
needs to be raised. However, the LDCs represented only 5 per cent
of global agricultural production in early 1970s and that has gone
down to less than 1 per cent in the late 1990s due to the sluggish
growth in agriculture and fluctuations in agricultural output and
prices. Increase of agricultural production must equally be accompanied
by its diversification and competitiveness and supported by
rural research and credit and marketing services that ensure better
coordination between various stakeholders in the development of
rural areas. The Secretary-General's report states that a reversal
of the decline in the proportion of ODA going to rural areas and
agriculture is vital for strengthening the rural economy in the
LDCs. It also mentions that debt relief for LDCs is an important
means to mobilize resources for poverty eradication in rural areas.
to productive assets of poor rural people, especially women
and smallholder farmers, needs to be enhanced. These productive
assets include land, water and other natural resources. Additionally,
there is a need for increased access to financial services in rural
areas, including micro-finance, savings and insurance facilities,
and appropriate technologies for rural communities.
In LDCs effective rural development ensures better access to
education, health and social services to their rural populations.
Existing data shows that 19 out of 33 African LDCs have maternal
mortal rate above 1 per 100 live births. One quarter of the children
in 33 out of 43 LDCs are undernourished.
rural development empowers poor people by providing them
access to land, water, energy, services and markets. It also ensures
participatory decision-making, capacity-building, strengthening
of democratic institutions, decentralization of power and better
governance. Enabling poor rural people to have a larger voice in
decision-making processes on resource allocation empowers them to
based, all-inclusive and sustainable rural development is impossible
without the empowerment of women. They play a very special role
in rural development as users and managers of natural resources.
This role derives from the primary responsibility of women for food
security, water, fuel and family welfare in their households. Such
empowerment of women could contribute positively to ensure good
governance. Furthermore, women and girls achieve most of the food
production in many areas, and must play a key role in any rural
development plans. They must have the right to own and inherit land,
and to have a say in the distribution of their production. The education
of girls pays a particularly high rate of return, improving the
health and well-being of their future families, and enabling them
to take a leadership role in their communities. The Brussels Programme
for the LDCs refers to microcredit as a relevant and powerful
engine for employment creation, poverty eradication and reduction
of gender inequality.
rural development work for the poor requires the liberalization
of agricultural trade. It means reduction of trade barriers,
phasing out agricultural subsidies in developed countries and minimization
of the effects of commodity price fluctuations. As stated in the
Secretary-General's report, emphasis needs to be placed on practical
ways of increasing agricultural and food production in a way that
promotes food security and nutrition improvement, taking into account
specific economic status and characteristics of each country. In
particular for the LDCs, augmenting staple production merits special
emphasis, since in the early stages of development, cultivation
of staple foods and/or off-farm employment provides most of the
income of the poor.
partnership of all stakeholders is crucial for an integrated
approach to rural development. Civil society and NGOs have
already proved to be active partners of the governments in poverty
reduction, agricultural production, food security and development
programmes. Public-private partnership has also been very
fruitful in ensuring technological progress and innovation in a
number of areas such as agriculture, water and land development.
This partnership needs to be fostered and further developed.
and Distinguished Delegates,
concluding, I would like to reemphasize the importance of international
partnership in the development of rural areas in the LDCs. As the
report of the Secretary-General points out, the development partners
need to provide sufficient development assistance, especially
for the productive sectors and debt relief. There is an urgent need
for eliminating supply-side constraints at the national level
in LDCs and increasing their productive capacities.
that poverty affects a substantial proportion of rural households,
national and international poverty reduction strategies need to
target rural areas and households more systematically by integrating
poverty eradication and food security objectives more firmly into
Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers, the common country assessments
and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework.
development can be an engine of the LDCs with international cooperation.
Appropriate policies and support measures by the international community
could reduce the economic vulnerability and thus accelerate socio-economic
development in the LDCs. Very rightly, the Secretary-General has
emphasized at the General Assembly last September: "Only by
multilateral action can we give people in the least developed countries
the chance to escape the ugly misery of poverty, ignorance and disease".
you for your attention.