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Rural Infrastructure

Rural Infrastructure - Image - Local market of potatos and onions

Rural infrastructure refers to a set of investments that include rural roads, water supply and sanitation, energy and telecommunications, and agricultural processing.  Traditionally, agriculture-related processes were not considered part of rural infrastructure. However, linking these processes with traditional rural infrastructure investments enables programs to respond to the multi-sector demands of communities.

The provision of rural infrastructure can be an important agent in the reduction of poverty and exclusion, in the strengthening of social capital, and in providing conditions for improving the provision of services. However, some key issues must be considered when designing Social Fund interventions. Due to the multi-sectoral nature of SFs, some sector-specificities and good practices may be ignored.  Rural infrastructure is a technical field and needs a focused attention.  The arrangements to build, operate, and maintain a rural road, for example, are different from those needed in rural water works, or in isolated electric grids. Social Funds should avoid relying on public services delivery with insufficient consideration of sustainability or incentives for private sector growth.

On the other hand, one of the advantages of using the Social Funds model for rural infrastructure provision is the opportunity to look at rural infrastructure in a more holistic manner.  Multi-sectoral projects are well-positioned to identify multiple demands and work with an open menu and multiple stakeholders. In addition, Social funds are designed to work with communities using a demand-responsive approach. This gives them a vantage point to find points of integration across sectors while promoting a sense of ownership that contributes to sustainability.

Related Reading

Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Toolkit for Multi-Sector Projects
World Bank Rural Water Supply & Sanitation and Social Funds Thematic Groups, November 2004

Institutional Options for Local Rural Infrastructure Services (29kb pdf)
Presentation from the World Bank Intl. Conference on Local Development, June 2004
by Chris Gerrard

Rural Transport in Multi Sectoral and Community Driven Projects  (517kb pdf)
World Bank Rural Transport Thematic Group in collaboration with Social Development, Social Funds Thematic Groups, and Agriculture & Rural Development, March 2003

Country Cases

Rural Infrastructure Service Delivery in Afghanistan (16kb pdf)
Presentation from the World Bank Intl. Conference on Local Development, June 2004
by Phillipe Dongier

Community Contracting in Rural Water and Sanitation: The Swajal Project, Uttar Pradesh, India (2.8mb pdf)
World Bank Water & Sanitation Program - South Asia, June 2001

Related Websites

World Bank Agriculture & Rural Development
ARD provides analytical and advisory services to the Bank's regions on a wide range of agriculture and rural development topics.

Water and Sanitation Program
The Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) is an international partnership of the world's leading development agencies concerned with improving sector policies, practices and capacities to serve poor people.

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