Rural poverty is a pervasive problem in many developing countries, making it a key component of any poverty reduction strategy. Many developing countries and development agencies would like to systematically monitor their progress in reducing rural poverty; however, no standard framework for measuring a country's performance exists.
Further, effective monitoring requires quality data; however, the debate on defining appropriate indicators across sectors has not been resolved. In addition, where consensus has been reached on particular indicators, quality data sets are not widely available in the Bank's client countries. As a result, it is difficult to develop a common approach to monitoring and evaluating progress within a country and across several countries.
To address these issues, the World Bank's Agriculture and Rural Development Department, working with the Development Economics Data Group, have developed the Rural Development Indicators Handbook. The Handbook aims to develop a common approach to monitoring and evaluating progress, within a country and across several countries, using a clearly defined set of indicators. Some indicators listed are not yet readily available, but they are listed to bring vital missing data to the attention of the development community.