Source: id21 Why are the inhabitants of remote rural areas (RRAs) chronically poor? Do we know enough about the effects of risk, exclusion and marginalisation for RRA residents? What is the relationship between remoteness and conflict? Do decentralisation and economic liberalisation offer any prospect of escape from spatial poverty traps? A paper from the Chronic Poverty Research Centre analyses the factors underpinning chronic poverty in remote rural areas. Arguing for the restoration of considerations of ‘place’ in development theory, it assesses the prospects of initiatives to improve well-being. Information from around the globe draws out the correlates of chronic poverty and indicates that much RRA poverty is imbedded and not transient. RRAs are huge. Islands of poverty with bleak prospects for economic growth and human development include swathes of sub-Saharan Africa, the Andes, the Himalayas, northern and western China, the ‘poverty square’ of East-Central India, north-eastern Thailand and much of Bangladesh. Their total population is around 1.8 billion. RRAs experience deficiencies in all forms of physical infrastructure : electricity, telecommunications, market places, irrigation and domestic water and sanitation and, above all else, transport links. Frequently, out-migration has left behind insecure, asset-depleted ‘residual’ populations with the odds stacked against them: high dependency ratios, stigma (based on age, gender, disability, ethnicity and/or language) and low reserves of social capital. Parents may be unenthusiastic about schooling, doubting the likelihood of returns on investment in education. To make matters worse, RRAs are often insecure and conflict-prone. In countries with such easy pickings as diamonds, ivory, drugs or minerals, grasping outside (as well as local) elites have bypassed the state. From Nepal to Chiapas, there is evidence that many contemporary conflicts emanate from and are fought out in border regions that have historically suffered from marginality, limited voice and hard core poverty. The paper also notes that: Roads are crucial: Tanzanian households who live within a hundred kilometres of an all-weather road with bus services earn a third more per capita than the rural average. A common feature of African RRAs is that they include large areas reserved for national parks: conservation continues to impose high costs on local populations. Both levels of theft and sexual violence against women are particularly high in RRAs. In many countries it is foreign NGOs and experts who have been most influential in driving RRA policy. The report does not underestimate the difficulties in turning things round. Development efforts in RRAs will only succeed if: *there is greater security *livelihoods can be diversified *there is action to reduce the frictional distance (distance expressed as journey time) to markets and services *a better educated and confident generation emerges to participate in local politics and challenge collusion between property-owning elites and state administrators *the centre can flexibly steer development to meet local priorities, recognising that the parameters of good governance in *RRAs may not be the same as the prescriptions at national level *policy-makers recognise that while integrated rural development projects may have gone out of favour, they could, nevertheless, be a relevant policy response where market led development is not happening. Contributor(s): Kate Bird, David Hulme and Karen Moore Source(s):‘Chronic poverty and remote rural areas’, Chronic Poverty Research Centre Working Paper 13, by Kate Bird, David Hulme and Karen Moore, January 2002 More information http://www.id21.org/society/s5bkb1g1.html and mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.