Handbook of Rural Development

Handbook of Rural Development

Elgar original reference

Edited by Gary Paul Green

Although most countries in the world are rapidly urbanizing, the majority of the global population – particularly the poor – continue to live in rural areas. This Handbook rejects the popular notion that urbanization should be universally encouraged and presents clear evidence of the vital importance of rural people and places, particularly in terms of environmental conservation. Expert contributors from around the world explore how global trends, state policies and grassroots movements affect contemporary rural areas in both developed and developing countries.

Chapter 14: Rural development in sub-Saharan Africa

David Kraybill

Subjects: development studies, agricultural economics, development studies, economics and finance, agricultural economics, environment, agricultural economics, environmental sociology


Africa has the highest poverty rate of any continent in the world and, after Asia, the second-largest number of people living in poverty. Within the African continent, poverty rates are far higher in the 49 countries that comprise sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) than in the six countries of North Africa. Three-fourths of persons living on less than $1.25 per day in SSA are located in rural areas (IFAD 2010). The rural population of SSA has been the focus of more than five decades of rural development policies and programs. Despite these efforts, the rural poverty rate worsened over the 20-year period, 1988–2008 (IFAD 2010). In 1988, East Asia and South Asia had higher rural poverty rates than SSA, based on the $1.25/day poverty line. However, over the subsequent 20 years, the ranking reversed and, by 2008, SSA was far behind East and South Asia and all other world regions in rural poverty rates. In 2008, the estimated rural poverty rate in SSA was 62 percent based on the $1.25/day poverty line and 87 percent based on the $2.00/day poverty line. Moreover, the rural share of poverty has grown in SSA from 72 percent in 1988 to 75 percent in 2008.Rural residents of SSA, like people in rural areas in many parts of the developing world, have limited livelihood opportunities, limited access to public services and limited voice in national governance. Remoteness imposes severe constraints on rural development, and the deterrent it represents to income generation and democratic participation cannot readily be overcome by getting market prices or citizen participation ‘right’.

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