3. Tackling poverty and social exclusion in rural areas
This theme was led by the Polish Rural Forum FAOW and involved partners from. The Project Managers were Ryszard Kaminski President of the board of the Polish Rural Forum. The work involved partners from Hungary, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Latvia, Serbia, Albania and Slovenia, plus participants from cooperating organisations from Georgia, Czech Republic, Slovakia and UK. In total 119 people from 11 countries were involved in:
- a two-day practitioners’ workshop in Kraków (25-27 June) with discussion, case studies and study visit
- virtual debate on a specially designed discussion forum (in Polish and English)
- virtual debates in national languages (in some countries)
- an internet survey available from the same website as the virtual debate.
FAOW established cooperation with universities to participate in the work on this theme, and the two-day practitioners’ workshop in June 2017, was attended by approximately 40 practitioners and researchers from Poland and 5 other countries. You can find pictures from the event here
Conclusions identified the types, experiences and causes of exclusion, recommendations and good practice.
Poverty is relatively more frequent in many countries in rural areas than in large cities (eg. Poland 10% v 1%). In many places, traditional ways of ensuring social security for family members and villagers have ceased to function. State aids do not work everywhere. Globalization and attraction to large centres, means rural areas face the challenge of depopulation and consequent restriction of services. Village inhabitants are aging and services are rarely adapted to the needs of this age group. Poverty is not the only cause of social exclusion, age (children and the elderly), disabled people and ethnic minorities are particularly threatened by social exclusion. The problems are serious, but cases of good practice prove that innovative solutions can be found to deal with old and new challenges. Responses must be tailored to the specific local conditions, regardless of their universality, the proposed solutions to be effective should take into account the local context and the nuanced nature of the situation. A broad, open debate on social exclusion in the countryside is needed. For the new programming period after 2020, the European Union should develop better instruments to exploit the potential of European rural areas, which through social exclusion is not used. The most effective form of action is prevention.
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