Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Malaysia Rural Definition

I was invited to facilitate a workshop on the preparation of action plans for the implementation of Malaysia’s Rural Master Plan. The Ministry of Rural and Regional Development Malaysia, has launched Rural Master Plan on 12 October 2010 and a workshop for the preparation of its action plans was conducted on December 12-15, at Glory Hotel in Port Dickson. The workshop was attended by 130 persons from various agencies involved in the development of rural areas.  Malaysia’s Rural Master Plan is basically a strategic plan to guide the development of rural areas in 10 years period until 2020. The document contains the strategic issues, vision, objectives, strategies and programmes. It is comparable to rural strategies in many countries in the west such as Rural Strategy in England. 
Workshop session  in Port Dickson December, 12-15 2010

In my group discussion we were asked to review the rural definition in the plan document since it received some comments/feedback from several agencies. We also looked into the indicators to monitor the plan’s progress and to suggest measures to improve rural data and information system.  The group come out with a revise definition but still based on basic operational definition by the department of statistics. It was argued that the definition by the Statistics Department (residue of urban) would stand since all the data collected in the population census were base on that definition. To ignore the Statistic Department’s definition would make classification of data difficult and may cause confusion since the statistics on rural areas in the past has been referred to the boundaries referred to by the Statistics Department.  
Rural definition in the Rural Master Plan

“Kawasan yang mempunyai penduduk kurang daripada 10,000 dengan mempunyai ciri-ciri kawasan pertanian dan sumber alam semulajadi di mana penduduknya tinggal sama ada secara berkelompok, sejajar atau bertaburan”.
Areas with population less than 10,000 people having agriculture and natural resources in which its population either clustered, linear or scattered.

But there were several concerned by the participants.
a.       The definition does not address the variation/diversity of rural areas in the country;
b.      There was concern whether rural areas under the new boundary of local authorities included under the definition of rural in the Master Plan.
c.       Some ministries such as the Ministry of Education classify their operation under three categories, urban, rural and remote rural.
d.      Some rural agencies did provide services in settlements at the fringe of urban areas and under local authorities’ areas.

Rural Definition Suggested
Rural as area outside urban including settlements with population less than 10,000 people, agriculture area, forest and water bodies.

Workshop on Action  Plan  for implementing  Malaysia's Rural Master Plan
To address the concerned on the rural variation, we also suggested the need to  categorize  rural region based on the concept of rurality. For the purpose, the methodology used by OCED was adopted by subjected to detail study  to look into application of actual data.  OCED define rural based on density. A locality is considered rural if the population density is less than 150 person per square kilometer. Based on the definition the regions with certain level of populations live in rural localities are classified into three categories, predominantly urban, significantly rural and predominantly rural.