Decent work is increasingly recognized as an indispensable driver of sustainable development with the potential to lift households and communities out of poverty. Poverty is predominantly a rural phenomenon as rural areas are home to the majority of the world's poor.
1 In 2012, extreme poverty rates (defined as people living on less than $1.90 in purchasing power parity terms per day) were four times higher in rural areas than in urban areas. A large share of the rural poor still depend on low-productivity subsistence farming for their livelihoods. The poorest rural households lack access to productive assets and often rely on income from wage employment.
2 Of the 300-500 million wage workers in agriculture, many depend on jobs in the plantation sector. Some 59 per cent, or over 98 million child labourers (aged 5 to 17), are in rural areas, mostly in agriculture.3 Forced labour, too, is prevalent in agriculture.
4 Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, and ending extreme poverty everywhere, will thus require increased policy focus on rural development. Placing decent work in the rural economy high on national and international policy agendas is crucial to find sustainable, long-term solutions to the massive challenges affecting hundreds of millions of people worldwide.
Challenges facing rural economies are multifaceted and interwoven, and addressing them requires integrated, cross-sectoral, multi-stakeholder and context-specific interventions. Close cooperation and coordination between all government departments is essential to ensuring interventions result in the hoped for impact.