Vol. 5, Issue 1 (2020)
Appraisal of rural livelihood and development programs: Evidence from select South Asian economies
Author(s): Sheth Zulfiqar Mohmad Yusuf, Kaneez Fizza
Abstract: More than 60% (2.2 billion) of the population in Asia live in rural areas. Rural families get livelihoods through agriculture, rural labor market, self-employment, and several rural households migrate to towns, cities in search of livelihood. Agriculture has a prominent share in livelihood across the Asian countries, but several other countries have a substantial share of the rural non-farm sector also. World Bank Development Report 2008 shows that the share of non-agricultural income in rural areas is high in South East Asian countries, with Indonesia and Vietnam having 57%. The share of self-employed in non-agriculture is the highest in Vietnam and Indonesia. Many Asian economies have adapted actions like livelihood diversification programs and integrated livelihood generation programs. These are generally an extension of development policy that tries to eradicate structural causes of poverty and food insecurity. Social protection programs are also crucial for reducing the risks faced by households due to climate change. Bangladesh, Nepal, and India are instrumental in launching programs like food for work, public work, and employment guarantee schemes for poor rural households while Sri Lanka, China, and the Philippines are strengthening their rural livelihood programs using information and communication technologies. This paper analyzes the efficacy of prominent rural livelihood programs by congregating pieces of evidence from select Asian economies. The paper briefly reviews five major rural development programs including Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme of India, The Afghanistan Rural Enterprise Development Program (AREDP) of Afghanistan, The Employment Generation Program for the Poorest (EGPP) of Bangladesh, The Rural Livelihood Project (RLP) of Bhutan, and Rural Access Program of Nepal. An in-depth desktop review of relevant policy documents, policy implementation processes, project documents, and progress reports have analyzed, and information thus generated was synthesized to identify critical issues to provide concrete recommendations for elaboration and revision of relevant policies.