Brussels, 24 March 2017/ BB/ACP: Strengthening linkages between rural and urban areas in Africa were the focus of the 48th Brussels Development Briefings, held earlier this month at the ACP House under the theme: “Strengthening rural livelihoods in the face of rapid urbanisation in Africa”.

The monthly briefing event on 20 March gathered a wide audience of policy makers, ACP diplomats, experts, and development practitioners to discuss key lessons and opportunities, as well as implications for young people, the rural job market, migration and economic transformation.

Rural areas in many African countries are transforming due to dynamics such as population growth, urbanisation and increasing mobility. Meanwhile, the rural-urban divide is fading, with increasing flows of people, goods and services between the two, leading to new migratory and livelihoods patterns. Strengthening rural-urban linkages in terms of infrastructure, transport, market access and exchange of information, ideas and innovation, can catalyse economic development in rural areas and provide future perspectives for rural population and especially youth.

The briefing was organised by the ACP-EU Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), in partnership with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the German Development Agency (GIZ), the Directorate-General for Development and Cooperation of the European Commission (EC/DEVCO), the ACP Secretariat and Concord (the European NGO confederation for Relief and Development).

The Brussels Briefings blog cites key issues covered, including employment, especially for youth, agricultural transformation, and the use of peri-urban areas and small intermediary cities as service hubs. The discussions further pointed out the importance of infrastructure to link rural, peri-urban and urban areas (especially good roads that can reduce transportation costs and promote development of the off-farm economy).

Several presentations showcased success stories from producers, young entrepreneurs, researchers and policy makers, highlighting new opportunities for value-chain actors, while also stressing the need for inclusive rural transformation via the right policy interventions and finance mechanisms.

Opportunities to consider for rural development strategies include:

· New income-generating opportunities in food systems as a result of changing urban consumption patterns

· Investing in towns and intermediary cities as hubs for economic growth and service delivery for rural areas

· Boosting agricultural productivity and attracting youth to farming

· Supporting job creation in the rural non-farm economy and enabling diversified and multi-local livelihood strategies

For more information, as well as photos, presentations, and background of the session, visit the Brussels Development Briefings blog

Brussels Briefings blog/ Press ACP

(Photos from top: ACP Secretariat expert in sustainable development Mr. Olusola Ojo makes opening remarks at BB48; Presentations on food, agriculture trends/ Photos by CTA/Brussels Briefings)