Kenya has pursued decentralization as a fundamental policy for rural development since independence. The thrust of the policy is achievement in rural balance development and improvement and sustenance of the livelihood of the rural household. In the 1970s, Kenya adopted rural development as a basic strategy for the path to national development, and planning, as a central task to rural development. Rural Kenya, thus, became a critical sector in the promotion of the overall development of the country.
According to theComputable General Equilibrium Model of the Kenyan Economy’, the rural sector comprises agriculture as the key enterprise engaging more than 75 percent of Kenya’s total population.
More than 80 percent of Kenya’s population is rural. Rural Kenya is also important as the major employer of labour force, provider of the bulk of forex earnings, and direct contributor to gross domestic product (GDP) at more than 30 percent of the total.
Successful rural development plays a very big role by doing the following:
• Ending hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.
• Increasing investment, including through enhanced international cooperation, in rural infrastructure, agricultural research and extension services, technology development and plant and livestock gene banks in order to enhance agricultural productive capacity in developing countries, in particular least developed countries
• Making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
• Supporting positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, peri-urban and rural areas by strengthening national and regional development planning
Sustainable Rural development is vital to the economic, social and environmental viability of nations. It is essential for poverty eradication since global poverty is overwhelmingly rural. The manifestation of poverty goes beyond the urban-rural divide, it has subregional and regional contexts. It is therefore critical, and there is great value to be gained, by coordinating Rural development initiatives that contribute to sustainable livelihoods through efforts at the global, regional, national and local levels, as appropriate. Strategies to deal with Rural development should take into consideration the remoteness and potentials in rural areas and provide targeted differentiated approaches.
A healthy and dynamic agricultural sector is an important foundation of Rural development, generating strong linkages to other economic sectors. Rural livelihoods are enhanced through effective participation of rural people and rural communities in the management of their own social, economic and environmental objectives by empowering people in rural areas, particularly women and youth, including through organizations such as local cooperatives and by applying the bottom-up approach. Close economic integration of rural areas with neighboring urban areas and the creation of rural off-farm employment can narrow rural-urban disparities, expand opportunities and encourage the retention of skilled people, including youth, in rural areas. There is considerable potential for rural job creation not only in farming, agro processing and rural industry but also in building rural infrastructure, in the sustainable management of natural resources, waste and residues. Rural communities in developing countries are still faced with challenges related to access to basic services, economic opportunities and some degree of incoherence with regard to planning related to rural-urban divide. Investments in environmental protection, rural infrastructure and in rural health and education are critical to sustainable Rural development and can enhance national well-being. Beyond meeting basic needs, investments must be linked to the potential to raise productivity and income. The vulnerabilities of the rural poor to the economic and financial crisis and to climate change and water shortage must be addressed. The success of sustainable Rural development depends on, inter alia, developing and implementing comprehensive strategies for dealing with climate change, drought, desertification and natural disaster. Related actions include:
(a) Promoting poverty eradication in rural areas;
(b) Promoting pro-poor planning and budgeting at the national and local levels;
(c) Addressing basic needs and enhancing provision of and access to services as a precursor to improve livelihoods and as an enabling factor of people?s engagement in productive activities;
(d) Providing social protection programmes to benefit, inter alia, the vulnerable households, in particular the aged, persons with disabilities and unemployed many of whom are in rural areas
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