It was a pleasure being part of the International Comparative Rural Policy Studies (ICRPS) summer school 2018 which took place at the Tuskegee University, Alabama. Through ICRPS 2018, I was able to have a unique understanding of rural development in developed countries like the United States. Rural areas cover 97 percent of the U.S land area but contain only 19.3 percent of the population. And 80% of the rural population is predominantly white, according to pew research (2016). The policymakers and the stakeholders face a set of complexities due to the mentioned facts.
The lectures and field trips of ICRPS 2018 Summer School centred on the historical background of rural policy and how race, gender, and other demographical circumstances played a detrimental role in policy decisions. The poverty level is on the rise in the United States. The recent report by the United Nation on extreme poverty found that the U.S. is failing its poor rural community. The discussions and presentations also brought out the struggling rural structure of the Black Belt and why it requires national and international attention. Participants from different countries also presented a comparative overview of the rural policy, specifically agricultural policies in the United States.
I was born and raised in Bangladesh, a country often taken as a model for rural development. I have been working with the International Fund for Agricultural Development for the past few months looking at developing countries. We are talking a lot about south-south cooperation for rural development in developing countries. After ICRPS 2018, I believe we also need to focus on North-North and North-South cooperation. We need to concentrate on best practices globally. The next ICRPS will take place in Finland and I highly encourage others to take part in this unique summer school.
Palash Sanyal is a Master of Water Security candidate at the University of Saskatchewan. Palash can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.