New approach to rural development

01 Jul 2007

The Sivas Erzincan Rural Development Project (SERDP) aims to improve incomes and welfare of rural people in the provinces of Sivas and Erzincan, in line with Turkey's National Rural Development Strategy and policies.  

New Horizons - Specifically, the Project will improve economic efficiencies and the quality of life in rural villages in the Project area; diversify income sources and increase employment opportunities, mainly through measures to improve supply-chain management; and optimize employability of the target group through individual and community capacity-building and skills training. UNDP and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) are main partners to SERDP, which is nationally executed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.  Importantly, by adopting a holistic approach to rural development, the Project ensures that local-level activities and investments are relevant to the situation and needs of rural people.

The joint IFAD and UNDP mission to the Sivas and Erzincan Rural Development Project area in May 2007 resulted in key adjustments to the project design and approach that will become effective in the coming weeks, and will optimize the overall impact of the project on the social-economic standing of rural communities in the provinces of Sivas and Erzincan.    

Rural development is a cornerstone of Turkey's overall reform and development agenda; with far-reaching and cross-cutting impacts on issues such as outward migration from villages; employment; sustainable use of natural resources; and engagement of local-level actors in development planning—all directly linked with UNDP's overarching objective of promoting sustainable human development.  In line with Government priorities, UNDP's goal is to enable people in under-developed rural areas to improve their living conditions and welfare. 

Both Sivas and Erzincan are classified among the least developed provinces in Turkey, which is why action to mitigate rural development challenges is a part of UNDP's in-country strategy. UNDP's Country Programme Document for Turkey references our commitment to strengthening rural development and productivity models in less developed regions. Similarly, the Country Programme Action Plan for 2006-2010 signed between the Goverment of Turkey and UNDP reiterates UNDP's commitment to supporting the Government's Rural Development Strategy, in particular, programmes aimed at promoting agro-based enterprises and increasing rural productivity.  One of the ways UNDP will do this is by helping to introduce innovations for enhancing rural productivity in the East and Southeast Anatolia regions.

Primary among the adjustments to SERDP's current design include an added emphasis on supporting activities that will enable the emergence of a more competitive and market-oriented rural economy.  Stagnated economic growth in rural areas have adverse impacts on income levels and employment and trigger migration away from villages. SERDP takes on an innovative supply-chain-management approach, where the entire process of production from beginning to end is assessed to identify local commodities and sub-sectors that have a comparative advantage and hold potential for maximizing farmers' earnings.  This process will trigger increased profitability and marketability of rural economic activities; foster farm-to-market linkages; and expand job opportunities.  This in turn not only improves farm-level productivity levels; but will improve entire household income and welfare, which are key UNDP development priorities. 

Other improvements to Project structure involve UNDP's expanded role at the local-level through direct field presence in Sivas and Erzincan.  Complementary to this, the Project will be realigned to strengthen provincial level ownership and overall flow of decision-making to the local level. This is in line with UNDP's goal to encourage local-level participation and target-setting by local stakeholders, whereby farmers and villagers are engaged in the process of development.   Gender concerns will be dealt with during the analysis and planning of eligible SERDP investments to ensure that income and employment opportunities for women are optimized.

As a main partner to this project, UNDP is committed to identifying local priorities and areas of potential in rural areas, and fostering action to achieve meaningful impact.

The current Sivas-Erzincan Regional Development Project which was launched in 2005, will be extended until 2012 to reflect the above changes and will have a budget of approximately USD 32 million.