Development in Rural Areas
The Aga Khan Foundation is committed to reducing rural poverty, particularly in resource-poor, degraded or remote environments. It concentrates on a small number of programmes of significant scale. The model of participatory rural development it has pioneered combines a set of common development principles with the flexibility to respond to specific contexts and needs.
Programmes typically link elements such as rural savings and credit, natural resource management, productive infrastructure development, increased agricultural productivity and human skills development with a central concern for community-level participation and decision-making. The ultimate goal is to enable community members to make informed choices from a range of appropriate options for sustainable and equitable development.
A central strategy has been to create or strengthen an institutional structure at the village level through which people can determine priority needs and decide how best to manage common resources in the interests of the community as a whole. Whether broad-based or task-specific, these village organisations also serve to represent the community to the government and to other development partners, including NGOs and the private sector.
Social capital built at the local level provides a supportive environment for enlarging the economic assets of a community and for harnessing individual self-interest to generate income growth in an equitable and sustainable manner.
Assets are typically built through community management of natural resources - water storage, irrigation infrastructure, soil conservation or forestry - or the construction of basic economic infrastructure, such as rural roads or agricultural storage facilities.
Income growth is promoted by increasing agricultural productivity through improved farming methods, input supply, marketing, land development and management reform or by increasing off-farm incomes and supporting enterprise development.
Local capital is mobilised by promoting savings and developing financial services to enable broad access to credit on a sustainable basis.
Training programmes support the effectiveness and sustainability of the village-level institutions by providing the management and technical skills needed to plan, implement and maintain local development activities.
The Foundation is committed to building the knowledge base in rural development through learning, analysing and disseminating lessons learned from field experience. Models it has promoted have already been adapted and replicated by governments and international donors in a wide spectrum of environments and economies.
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