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The rural poor, the private sector and markets: Changing interactions in southern Africa
Drawing on case study material from the Sustainable Livelihoods in Southern Africa programme, this article examines the turn to strategies for development in southern Africa, which seek to boost the access of the rural poor to new markets and investment opportunities. It investigates the prospects for "pro-poor" engagement with the private sector, and lists a number of policy measures needed in order to make such initiatives work for the benefit of rural livelihoods. Markets are highly politicised, the playing field is uneven and, without regulation and protection, poor communities are vulnerable to potential exploitation. Without concerted attention to improving the capacity of poor people to enter and engage with markets and to the distribution of benefits - through active state support and redistributive measures - the ideals of "pro-poor growth" and "private sector partnership" for development will remain more rhetorical gloss than reality.