By Victor Uzoho
Experts, policymakers, and administrators from four Local Government Areas (LGAs) including Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in Niger State, have said poor linkages between urban and rural communities were putting pressure on food security in the region.
According to them, apart from the pressure on food security, the poor linkages are responsible for the low returns on agriculture for rural farmers, and growing inequalities and spatial disparities, hence the need to strengthen the connection between rural and urban centres.
These are among the observations made by stakeholders at a technical workshop on strengthening rural-urban linkages, organised by the UN-Habitat in partnership with the Niger State Government.
The workshop was part of the implementation of the UN Development Account (UNDA) funded project, “Leaving No Place Behind – Strengthening Urban-Rural Linkages,” in selected countries in Africa through continued engagement of stakeholders on the formulation of evidence-based policy strategies for attaining sustainable towns and cities.
In a statement made available to Sustainable Economy on Monday, the organisers said the workshop would validate the project’s outcomes on challenges, opportunities as well as proffer policy recommendations for strengthening urban-rural linkages in the state.
Remarking, the Coordinator of the Niger State Urban Support Programme, Prof. Mustapha Zubairu, said urban-rural linkage is a critical component for territorial development and improved rural economy.
“The present poor linkage across urban-rural continuum has not only put pressure on food security but also led to low returns on agriculture for rural farmers, growing inequalities and spatial disparities. Hence, there is a need to strengthen the connection between rural areas and large urban centres with a coherent policy tool, developmental programmes and projects,” he said.
The present poor linkage across urban-rural continuum has not only put pressure on food security but also led to low returns on agriculture for rural farmers, growing inequalities and spatial disparities.
On his part, UN-Habitat’s Chief of Policy, Legislation and Governance Section, Remy Sietchiping, who participated virtually, commended the State Government for steering the discussion on strengthening urban-rural linkages in the extant policy instruments, particularly the Niger State Urban Policy.
He added that as the participants proffer policy strategies, initiate developmental programmes and projects, they should also consider rural dwellers or communities that could be disenfranchised so that no place will be left behind.
Some of the policy recommendations put forward for strengthening urban-rural linkages in Niger State included: providing resilient infrastructures such as rural feeder roads, river cross/bridges to ensure urban-rural continuum; enhancing rural productivity and food security through improved seedlings.
Also, he recommended farm storage and processing facilities; provision of fertilizers and extension services to rural farmers; strengthening the situation architecture in Niger State; and establishing a coherent framework of action for preparation and implementation of programmes/projects across the urban-rural continuum in the State.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Niger State Ministry of Land and Housing, Abdul Husaini, affirmed that the Government has been receiving technical assistance from UN-Habitat on different developmental scopes.
“This workshop is a platform to understand the significance of inter-ministerial and multilevel collaboration for territorial planning and improved service delivery across the urban-rural continuum in the State thus leaving no place behind,” he said.