Rural-Urban Linkages Agenda for the next Periodic Plan

Rural-Urban Linkages Agenda for the next Periodic Plan

April 7, 2016, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol.09, No 18, April 1,2016 (Chaitra 19, 2072)

Rather than treating rural and urban as separate and competing development spaces, they should be seen as a whole in continuum and their linkages should be strengthened for balanced development.Urban-rural linkages have the potential to transform sustainable human development for the benefit of all.  Thus it should form a basis for our next Periodic Plan, which is being discussed now.

Traditionally, rural and urban areas have been treated as separate entities for planning, development and investment.  Our policies, programs and projects have been influenced by pro-rural and pro-urban arguments overlooking the dynamics ad importance of developmental linkages between them.

Now, it is increasingly recognized that rural and urban areas are two ends of a human settlements continuum. There exists social, economic, political and environmental interdependence between rural and urban areas.  Rural and urban areas are linked by the growing flow of people, goods, services, capital, information, knowledge and innovation, technology, power and authority, and waste and pollution.

A number of UN resolutions have adopted Habitat Agenda calling for “rural urban interdependence”, “dissemination of good practices and polities on mutually beneficial urban-rural development relationships” and “strengthening the capacity of rural service centers, and small, intermediate and secondary towns to attract populations, increase investments, create jobs and reduce reliance on primate cities, as a strategy to promote decentralized growth.”

Further, the Sustainable Development Goals call the international community and governments to address rural and urban development in a complementary and mutually reinforcing manner as outlined by Habitat III issue paper on rural urban linkages.

Nepal is a rural based economy with majority of people living in rural areas. But there is increasing trend of urbanization. We need a balanced and mutually supportive approach to development of both areas, not the one at the expense of other. The very reason why we could not address rural-urban inequalities is lack of coherent plan and weak coordinated efforts of government, civil society and private sector.

Now there is opportunity to think logically at the Apex level, and support coordinated efforts on the ground through Periodic Plan. Sixty years of planned development have been completed in Nepal with thirteen periodic plans. Rural-urban biases influenced those plans. There were imbalanced economic and demographic flows between rural and urban areas. As a result, there were unemployment and underemployment both in rural and urban areas while the middle path, peri-urban for small and medium towns remained undeveloped. People were not able to take benefits from economic growth in the absence of rural-urban links.

For balanced and equitable development, we need appropriate policies, governance mechanisms and coordinated implementation to strengthen rural-urban linkages. Let us have a discourse for the next Periodic Plan within the SDG Agenda about strengthening rural-urban linkages. These should include: physical linkage, economic linkage, financial linkage, socio-cultural linkage, technological linkage, service delivery linkage, and governance and administrative linkage.

Rural-urban links can happen within and between highlands and lowlands. The linkages should also look into the context of highland-lowland relations taking advantage of our rich biodiversity and cultural diversity while addressing environmental stresses, climate change and disasters in the equation.

We need to move from rural-urban dichotomy to rural-urban continuum, and let us begin with our next Periodic Plan focusing on strengthening rural-urban linkages.

Dr. Prabin Manandhar is an expert of international development. Currently, he is working as Country Director of The Lutheran World Federation. He is also a visiting faculty at the Kathmandu University. He can be reached atprabin.manandhar11@gmail.com

Rather than treating rural and urban as separate and competing development spaces, they should be seen as a whole in continuum and their linkages should be strengthened for balanced development.Urban-rural linkages have the potential to transform sustainable human development for the benefit of all.  Thus it should form a basis for our next Periodic Plan, which is being discussed now.

Traditionally, rural and urban areas have been treated as separate entities for planning, development and investment.  Our policies, programs and projects have been influenced by pro-rural and pro-urban arguments overlooking the dynamics ad importance of developmental linkages between them.

Now, it is increasingly recognized that rural and urban areas are two ends of a human settlements continuum. There exists social, economic, political and environmental interdependence between rural and urban areas.  Rural and urban areas are linked by the growing flow of people, goods, services, capital, information, knowledge and innovation, technology, power and authority, and waste and pollution.

A number of UN resolutions have adopted Habitat Agenda calling for “rural urban interdependence”, “dissemination of good practices and polities on mutually beneficial urban-rural development relationships” and “strengthening the capacity of rural service centers, and small, intermediate and secondary towns to attract populations, increase investments, create jobs and reduce reliance on primate cities, as a strategy to promote decentralized growth.”

Further, the Sustainable Development Goals call the international community and governments to address rural and urban development in a complementary and mutually reinforcing manner as outlined by Habitat III issue paper on rural urban linkages.

Nepal is a rural based economy with majority of people living in rural areas. But there is increasing trend of urbanization. We need a balanced and mutually supportive approach to development of both areas, not the one at the expense of other. The very reason why we could not address rural-urban inequalities is lack of coherent plan and weak coordinated efforts of government, civil society and private sector.

Now there is opportunity to think logically at the Apex level, and support coordinated efforts on the ground through Periodic Plan. Sixty years of planned development have been completed in Nepal with thirteen periodic plans. Rural-urban biases influenced those plans. There were imbalanced economic and demographic flows between rural and urban areas. As a result, there were unemployment and underemployment both in rural and urban areas while the middle path, peri-urban for small and medium towns remained undeveloped. People were not able to take benefits from economic growth in the absence of rural-urban links.

For balanced and equitable development, we need appropriate policies, governance mechanisms and coordinated implementation to strengthen rural-urban linkages. Let us have a discourse for the next Periodic Plan within the SDG Agenda about strengthening rural-urban linkages. These should include: physical linkage, economic linkage, financial linkage, socio-cultural linkage, technological linkage, service delivery linkage, and governance and administrative linkage.

Rural-urban links can happen within and between highlands and lowlands. The linkages should also look into the context of highland-lowland relations taking advantage of our rich biodiversity and cultural diversity while addressing environmental stresses, climate change and disasters in the equation.

We need to move from rural-urban dichotomy to rural-urban continuum, and let us begin with our next Periodic Plan focusing on strengthening rural-urban linkages.

Dr. Prabin Manandhar is an expert of international development. Currently, he is working as Country Director of The Lutheran World Federation. He is also a visiting faculty at the Kathmandu University. He can be reached atprabin.manandhar11@gmail.com

 

Dr. Prabin Manandhar

Dr. Prabin Manandhar

Dr. Manandhar is an expert of international development. Currently, he is working as Country Director of The Lutheran World Federation. He is the Former Chair of the Association of International NGOs in Nepal (AIN). He is also a visiting faculty at the Ka

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