NEPAD zeroes in on the transformation of rural communities

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Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (October 11, 2010) – “This programme is about the transformation of Africa’s rural economy. It is about a new way of thinking about development,” said Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NEPAD Agency) at the launch of the Rural Futures Programme.

In an address to a meeting at the launch, he said most Africans live in rural areas and so the Rural Futures Programme is about people and the required strategies that can enable us all to look at development of the rural economy with a broader and more systemic approach.

The Programme is a joint initiative of the African Union Commission (AUC) and the NEPAD Agency in partnership with the Economic Commission for Africa (UN-ECA), World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the World Food Programme.

In a key note address to the meeting, Ghana's Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, Ms Sherry Aryittey (extreme right in the photo) – who also officially launched the Programme – advised that issues of equity particularly within the context of the right to land for African women should be treated as a priority in the Rural Futures strategy.

This is an initial two year action-oriented programme that aims to stimulate participation, consensus and investment around rural transformation as the basis for long-term sustainable national development and pro-poor economic growth across the continent.

Although the Rural Futures Programme will draw on some of the existing continental projects and initiatives – such as the Green Wall Initiative – it is promising to look at development in a new way. That is, in a way that focuses on markets, land, rural equities and the participation of civil society organizations (CSOs) in decisions on policy making for the rural economy.

The launch was attended by over 100 participants, with representation from farmers’ organisations, policy makers from civil society, development partners, AUC, regional economic communities, the media and academia from within and outside of Africa.

Mrs. Estherine Lisinge-Fotabong (centre in the photo), the Director for Programme Implementation and Coordination at the NEPAD Agency called upon the participants to take ownership of this new African-led Rural Futures Programme and to come up with concrete actions and decisions that can be fed into the strategic framework of the Programme.

Speaking on behalf of well over 4000 rural women, Wendi Losha Bernadette of the Cameroon Rural Women Organisation advised that her members needed “urgent support”. Her hope is that the Rural Futures Programme can provide the necessary action for this support.

For more information contact:
Andrew Kanyegirire, NEPAD Agency Communications – Andrewk@nepad.org
+27 (0) 83 704 4506

1.ADF-VII <www.uneca.org/adfvii/>

2.ACPC <www.uneca.org/acpc/>
3.ACMAD<www.acmad.org>

To access the key documents from the Launch meeting go to:
http://www.nepad.org/foodsecurity/knowledge/doc/1740/launch-rural-futures-programme