Striving for growth, bypassing the poor? A critical review of Rwanda's rural sector policies
Institute of Development Policy and Management
Journal of modern African studies. - Cambridge, 1963, currens
, p. 1-32
University of Antwerp
Equity is complementary to the pursuit of long-term prosperity. Greater equity is doubly good for poverty reduction. It tends to favour sustained overall development, and it delivers increased opportunities to the poorest groups in a society. (François Bourguignon, speech at the launching of the World Development Report, 2006) This paper studies the Rwandan case to address some of the challenges and pitfalls in defining pro-poor strategies. The paper first looks at the danger of a purely growth-led development focus (as in Rwanda's first PRSP), and evaluates the extent to which the agricultural sector has been a pro-poor growth engine. It then studies Rwanda's current rural policies, which aim to modernise and professionalise the rural sector. There is a high risk that these rural policy measures will be at the expense of the large mass of small-scale peasants. This paper stresses that the real challenge to transform the rural sector into a true pro-poor growth engine will be to value and incorporate the capacity and potential of small-scale non-professional peasants into the core strategies for rural development. The lessons drawn from the Rwandan case should inspire policy makers and international donors worldwide to shift their focus away from a purely output-led logic towards distribution-oriented rural development policies. In other words, the challenge is to reconcile efficiency in creating economic growth with equity, and perhaps, to put equity first.