Rural Urban Linkages

• • •
About this issue Topics Resources

For the majority of the world's poorest residents, local rural-urban linkages, investment patterns and population movements are probably far more important than the much touted global linkages, foreign direct investments, and international migration.

First, rural-urban linkages are important to achieve balanced economic growth. Isolated rural settlements that cannot tap local urban markets will not benefit from expanding global markets. Small urban centres bypassed by agricultural exporters will not play a dynamic role in regional development.

Second, rural urban linkages can reduce vulnerability, and play a critical role in the livelihood strategies of the poorest groups, both rural and urban. Low income rural dwellers often rely on urban-based non-farm jobs and on remittances and other transfers from migrant relatives. Low income urban dwellers often rely on seasonal farm jobs, and on the help of rural relatives in looking after children and family property.

Third, rural-urban interactions are often critical influences on natural resource use and management, especially in the peri-urban interface. But these linkages and interactions are usually neglected by both local government (which tends to divide rural and urban responsibilities) and national government (whose ministries rarely address urban rural linkages directly).

Rural-urban interactions can be defined as linkages across space (such as flows of people, goods, money, information and wastes) and linkages between sectors (for example, between agriculture and services and manufacturing). In broad terms, they also include 'rural' activities taking place in urban centres (such as urban agriculture) and activities often classified as 'urban' (such as manufacturing and services) taking place in rural settlements.

Our work seeks to:

improve our understanding of how changing rural-urban interactions affect the livelihoods of lowincome and vulnerable groups in urban and rural settlements (including developing appropriate

methodologies)

support the capacity of local institutions and government to identify the opportunities and constraints for poverty reduction and regional development provided by rural-urban linkages, and act on them

help develop a dialogue between national and local government to ensure a better integration between national macro-economic and sectoral policies and local initiatives.

The principal topics that we are currently working on are:

Governance in decentralised structures, especially in small urban centres and peri-urban areas Because of the variations in the nature and scale of rural-urban interactions between and within nations, local governments are best placed to respond to location-specific needs and priorities. Decentralisation has great potential with regard to efficiency and democratic accountability, but often carries costs and constraints (such as insufficient revenue and capacity, and weak links with national planning). Special attention is given to the identification of ways to better support local governments, particularly in improving the role of small and intermediate urban centres in the development of their surrounding regions and in peri-urban areas.

The role of urban centres in the development of their surrounding rural region Access to urban markets is key to increasing incomes for rural and peri-urban producers. Crucial dimensions include: physical infrastructure (including road networks and affordable transport); the relations between producers and traders; and farmers' information on how markets operate, including price fluctuations and consumer preferences. Special attention is also given to local urban markets as links to regional, national and international markets through the analysis of commodity supply chains.

Income diversification and rural non-farm employment There is ample evidence that most rural (and in many cases urban) households rely on the combination of farm and non-farm income sources, thereby reducing fluctuations and risk and, in some cases, increasing their asset base. Research on this theme focuses on transformations in local labour markets (often influenced by globalisation) and how they affect different groups on the basis of gender, age, migrant status, ethnicity, wealth and location. Emerging issues such as the role of clustering in the development of small-scale enterprises, and opportunities in the growing tourism industry are also explored.

Migration and mobility With urbanization and changing employment patterns, migration and mobility (such as commuting between rural settlements and urban centres) are increasingly important. Specific areas of interest are the differences and reasons behind in the mobility of different groups (including the often unintended impact of national macro-economic and sectoral policies), and the impact of migration on households and communities in both sending and receiving settlements.

Transformations in peri-urban areas The immediate periphery of urban centres often undergoes processes of extremely rapid transformation. There are many opportunities, such as increasing urban demand for high value horticultural and livestock produce which often trigger agricultural intensification; and non-farm employment opportunities help households diversify their income sources. But there can also be many constraints, which can result in the marginalisation of vulnerable residents and in environmental problems. Specific areas of interest are transformations in land tenure and natural resource management (and their impact on low-income groups), and the management of different types of wastes originating from the urban centre.

Publications
The Rural-Urban Interactions and Livelihoods Series includes overviews on the role of urban centres in rural development and environmental issues in the peri-urban interface.

Reports from collaborative case studies with partners in Mali, Nigeria, Tanzania, India and Vietnam are available as Working Papers in the Rural-Urban Interactions and Livelihoods Series, and as shorter Briefing Papers.

The Earthscan Reader in Rural-Urban Linkages, edited by Cecilia Tacoli (2006). A collection of key papers that illustrate the importance of rural-urban linkages for sustainable development.

Environment and Urbanization

• •

A special issue of Environment and Urbanization 'Beyond the rural-urban divide' (April 1998), including a guide to the literature on rural-urban interactions. (all articles free to download) The April 2003 issue of the journal Environment and Urbanization also focused on 'rural-urban transformations'. (all articles free to download)

A summary of policy issues related to rural-urban interactions published in IIED's Gatekeeper Series no 77 .

Other relevant publications and links include:

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) Papers on Food Consumption and Nutrition Divisional (FCND) discussion papers

• • • •

Migration and the Rural-Urban Continuum: Evidence from the Rural Philippines Agnes R. Quisumbing and Scott McNiven. October 2005. Paper no. 197 Rural and Urban Dynamics and Poverty: Evidence from China and India. Shenggen Fan, Connie Chan-Kang, and Anit Mukherjee. August 2005. Paper no. 196 Market Institutions: Enhancing the Value of Rural-Urban Links. Shyamal Chowdhury; Asfaw Negassa; and Maximo Torero. October 2005. Paper no. 195 Livelihoods, Growth, and Links to Market Towns in 15 Ethiopian Villages. Stefan Dercon and John Hoddinott. July 2005. Paper no. 194

A paper on 'Understanding the Opportunities and Constraints for Low-income Groups in the Periurban Interface: the Contribution of Livelihood Frameworks' prepared by IIED staff is available on the Development Planning Unit's Peri-Urban Interface website which provides other useful links and information on peri-urban issues.

Chapters from a very detailed paper on The Urban Transition in Vietnam by Mike Douglass and Mike DiGregorio (2002) can be downloaded from UNDP Vietnam Office’s site

A policy brief on the impact of rural-urban interactions on urban food security was produced as part of IFPRI's 2020 Focus Series No3; Achieving urban food and nutrition security in the developing world August 2000

A recent issue of Id21 Insights on 'Bridging the rural-urban divide'.

In November 2003, IIED submitted a contribution to help the UK International Development Committee's enquiry on 'Migration and Development'. view full enquiry

Links
The Institute for Development Studies in Sussex runs the Livelihoods Connect website, supported by the UK Department for International Development. The website has two 'hot topics' pages, one on urbanrural change http://www.livelihoods.org/hot_topics/UrbanRural.html#5 and the other on migration http://www.livelihoods.org/hot_topics/migration.html with useful information, downloadable papers and further links.

The Global Commission on International Migration (www.gcim.org) presented its Report to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, UN Members States and other stakeholders on 5 October 2005. The Commission, of which IIED's Chair of the Board of Trustees, Mary Robinson, is a member, says the international community has failed to realize the full potential of migration and has not risen to the many opportunities and challenges it presents. The Commission stresses the need for greater coherence, cooperation and capacity to achieve a more effective governance of international migration. The 90-page report provides a comprehensive yet concise analysis of key global policy issues in the field of international migration, and presents six 'Principles for Action' and thirty-three related recommendations that can serve as a guide to the formulation of migration policies at the national, regional and global levels. The Commission is also publishing the supporting evidence for its conclusions and recommendations. This supporting evidence includes a series of thematic papers, a series of papers on migration issues in different regions of the world, and reports of all the regional hearings, stakeholder consultations and expert meetings that the Commission has held over the past 21 months.
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The principal topics that we are currently working on are:

Governance in decentralised structures, especially in small urban centres and peri-urban areas Because of the variations in the nature and scale of rural-urban interactions between and within nations, local governments are best placed to respond to location-specific needs and priorities. Decentralisation has great potential with regard to efficiency and democratic accountability, but often carries costs and constraints (such as insufficient revenue and capacity, and weak links with national planning). Special attention is given to the identification of ways to better support local governments, particularly in improving the role of small and intermediate urban centres in the development of their surrounding regions and in peri-urban areas.

The role of urban centres in the development of their surrounding rural region Access to urban markets is key to increasing incomes for rural and peri-urban producers. Crucial dimensions include: physical infrastructure (including road networks and affordable transport); the relations between producers and traders; and farmers' information on how markets operate, including price fluctuations and consumer preferences. Special attention is also given to local urban markets as links to regional, national and international markets through the analysis of commodity supply chains.

Income diversification and rural non-farm employment There is ample evidence that most rural (and in many cases urban) households rely on the combination of farm and non-farm income sources, thereby reducing fluctuations and risk and, in some cases, increasing their asset base. Research on this theme focuses on transformations in local labour markets (often influenced by globalisation) and how they affect different groups on the basis of gender, age, migrant status, ethnicity, wealth and location. Emerging issues such as the role of clustering in the development of small-scale enterprises, and opportunities in the growing tourism industry are also explored.

Migration and mobility With urbanization and changing employment patterns, migration and mobility (such as commuting between rural settlements and urban centres) are increasingly important. Specific areas of interest are the differences and reasons behind in the mobility of different groups (including the often unintended impact of national macro-economic and sectoral policies), and the impact of migration on households and communities in both sending and receiving settlements.

Transformations in peri-urban areas The immediate periphery of urban centres often undergoes processes of extremely rapid transformation. There are many opportunities, such as increasing urban demand for high value horticultural and livestock produce which often trigger agricultural intensification; and non-farm employment opportunities help households diversify their income sources. But there can also be many constraints, which can result in the marginalisation of vulnerable residents and in environmental problems. Specific areas of interest are transformations in land tenure and natural resource management (and their impact on low-income groups), and the management of different types of wastes originating from the urban centre.

Publications
The Rural-Urban Interactions and Livelihoods Series includes overviews on the role of urban centres in rural development and environmental issues in the peri-urban interface.

Reports from collaborative case studies with partners in Mali, Nigeria, Tanzania, India and Vietnam are available as Working Papers in the Rural-Urban Interactions and Livelihoods Series, and as shorter Briefing Papers.

The Earthscan Reader in Rural-Urban Linkages, edited by Cecilia Tacoli (2006). A collection of key papers that illustrate the importance of rural-urban linkages for sustainable development.

Environment and Urbanization

• •

A special issue of Environment and Urbanization 'Beyond the rural-urban divide' (April 1998), including a guide to the literature on rural-urban interactions. (all articles free to download) The April 2003 issue of the journal Environment and Urbanization also focused on 'rural-urban transformations'. (all articles free to download)

A summary of policy issues related to rural-urban interactions published in IIED's Gatekeeper Series no 77 .

Other relevant publications and links include:

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) Papers on Food Consumption and Nutrition Divisional (FCND) discussion papers

• • •

Migration and the Rural-Urban Continuum: Evidence from the Rural Philippines Agnes R. Quisumbing and Scott McNiven. October 2005. Paper no. 197 Rural and Urban Dynamics and Poverty: Evidence from China and India. Shenggen Fan, Connie Chan-Kang, and Anit Mukherjee. August 2005. Paper no. 196 Market Institutions: Enhancing the Value of Rural-Urban Links. Shyamal Chowdhury; Asfaw Negassa; and Maximo Torero. October 2005. Paper no. 195

Livelihoods, Growth, and Links to Market Towns in 15 Ethiopian Villages. Stefan Dercon and John Hoddinott. July 2005. Paper no. 194

A paper on 'Understanding the Opportunities and Constraints for Low-income Groups in the Periurban Interface: the Contribution of Livelihood Frameworks' prepared by IIED staff is available on the Development Planning Unit's Peri-Urban Interface website which provides other useful links and information on peri-urban issues.

Chapters from a very detailed paper on The Urban Transition in Vietnam by Mike Douglass and Mike DiGregorio (2002) can be downloaded from UNDP Vietnam Office’s site

A policy brief on the impact of rural-urban interactions on urban food security was produced as part of IFPRI's 2020 Focus Series No3; Achieving urban food and nutrition security in the developing world August 2000

A recent issue of Id21 Insights on 'Bridging the rural-urban divide'.

In November 2003, IIED submitted a contribution to help the UK International Development Committee's enquiry on 'Migration and Development'. view full enquiry

Links
The Institute for Development Studies in Sussex runs the Livelihoods Connect website, supported by the UK Department for International Development. The website has two 'hot topics' pages, one on urbanrural change http://www.livelihoods.org/hot_topics/UrbanRural.html#5 and the other on migration http://www.livelihoods.org/hot_topics/migration.html with useful information, downloadable papers and further links.

The Global Commission on International Migration (www.gcim.org) presented its Report to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, UN Members States and other stakeholders on 5 October 2005. The Commission, of which IIED's Chair of the Board of Trustees, Mary Robinson, is a member, says the international community has failed to realize the full potential of migration and has not risen to the many opportunities and challenges it presents. The Commission stresses the need for greater coherence, cooperation and capacity to achieve a more effective governance of international migration. The 90-page report provides a comprehensive yet concise analysis of key global policy issues in the field of international migration, and presents six 'Principles for Action' and thirty-three related recommendations

that can serve as a guide to the formulation of migration policies at the national, regional and global levels. The Commission is also publishing the supporting evidence for its conclusions and recommendations. This supporting evidence includes a series of thematic papers, a series of papers on migration issues in different regions of the world, and reports of all the regional hearings, stakeholder consultations and expert meetings that the Commission has held over the past 21 months.

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