Rural development

Helping rural communities become resilient and gain access to basic services to improve their quality of life.

We recognise people in rural communities live in unique circumstances; our support is reflective of these particular needs.

Communities living in rural areas are often marginalised; geographically isolated and most vulnerable to climate change given their livelihoods heavily depend on the land and the environment. Supporting rural development requires an acute understanding of the challenges each community faces. IMC co-designs solutions to ensure communities benefit from economic growth and can access basic services and undertake environmental management and good governance.

IMC’s approach to rural development looks at expanding economic opportunities by working at both ends of the private sector spectrum. On one hand promoting and improving micro-scale income generating activities for poor households and smallholders and on the other supporting international value chains of major commodities to ensure markets work better for the poor. We ensure our programmes are bottom up, reflecting and respecting the culture of the communities we work within.

We work with donors, multi-national corporations, local government, communities and families to develop solutions that address the needs of rural communities and empower people to step up and out of poverty.

  • Integrated approach. We recognise that rural life is not limited to developing economic opportunities from agriculture and natural resources. In fact, rural life is multi-faceted with a variety of socio-economic issues facing the poor including, but not limited to; women’s economic empowerment, access to education and healthcare, inadequate infrastructure and environmental degradation. Our approach to rural development ensures efforts are coordinated complementing, and not contradicting each other.
  • The participatory principle. To achieve transformative change, communities need to be actively involved and empowered in their development. Specifically this involves communities assessing their needs, identifying their own goals, and having a sense of ownership of the programme’s outcome and achievements. Our approach is not limited to surveys and interviews but includes focus groups, appreciative enquiries and stakeholder engagement which respect the language and the culture of communities we work within.
  • Innovating to improve and develop resilient livelihoods. Innovation can support rural communities to increase their productivity, introducing new products and techniques, or reviving previous methods of agricultural farming techniques. Our approach recognises that innovation can play an integral role in supporting rural communities to access new markets and develop cost effective basic utilities. Most importantly, we help proven innovations to scale, maximising their impact.
  • Adaptation and Resilience. Rural communities due to their relative geographical and financial isolation can often be vulnerable to climate change and market failure. Our programmes carefully build the adaptive capacities of communities; building their preparedness planning and their land management capacities. Also, our approach seeks to build their resilience supporting the design and implementation of rural infrastructure and reform of community governance and public institutions.


  • design and developing innovation prizes
  • value chain analysis and development to strengthen business and livelihoods
  • design and implementation of innovative and results based financing mechanisms
  • development of practical toolkits
  • primary and secondary research
  • participatory rural appraisals
  • design and implementation of basic services and utilities for rural communities
  • integrating ICT and climate smart agriculture to support the development of rural economies
  • evaluating utility and impact of climate change (adaptation and resilience)
  • design of bespoke women’s economic empowerment activities

Recent projects

India: Evaluation of CABI Direct2Farm Mobile Agri-Advisory Service India, DfID

Direct2Farm (D2F) is a mobile-enabled agriculture infomediary service aimed at making high quality information readily accessible to farmers. IMC have been commissioned to evaluate the effect of the services in terms of behaviour change, sustainability and effectiveness, using a mixed method approach, making use of qualitative and quantitative information. Evaluation methods are being combined with rigorous statistical analysis and GIS based outputs.

Worldwide: Evidence on Demand – Professional Evidence and Applied Knowledge Services for Climate, Environment, Infrastructure and Livelihoods Resource Centre, DfID

Evidence on Demand is part of a new generation of resource centres, providing knowledge services to DfID advisors and the wider international development community in the areas of climate change, environment, infrastructure and livelihoods. IMC (in joint venture with DAI Limited) has provided direct support on issues such as: social and gender issues linked to tackling deforestation, technology to promote transparency around land acquisitions, cities in developing countries and their development in response to climate change and resource scarcity, donor approaches to improving access to finance for independent WASH providers, agriculture and growth, adaptation: decision making under uncertainty.

Nepal: Rural Access Programme (RAP), DfID

IMC designed and delivered the DFID financed Nepal Rural Access Programme (RAP) to increase access to market and social services for the rural poor and disadvantaged for the last 14 years through the RAP 1 and 2 programmes. Together these components have created more than 12 million days of employment (40% for women), provided over 2 million people with better access to markets, health and education facilities, and trained more than 30,000 people in new income generating skills and built 980 km of roads. The RAP model was scaled up to a third phase, adding bridges and maintenance components to the original design to support short-term job creation and market led economic development.

Vietnam: Productive Rural Infrastructure Development in Central Highlands, ADB

IMC has provided Technical Assistance in the preparation of a seven year investment programme to rehabilitate and upgrade critical productive rural infrastructure such as irrigation systems, rural access routes, and local markets. This will enable communities to respond to market signals by: increasing agricultural intensity and diversity; providing quicker and safer access to markets, employment opportunities, and social services; and, reducing costs of rural production and marketing, as well as reducing food wastage. Improved productive rural infrastructure will increase incomes from both on- and off-farm employment, decreases the burden of chores on women, and increases food availability even when yields are constant.

Uganda: Results Based Finance in the Improved Cook Stove Sector, World Bank

IMC carried out a study to help the ACCES programme and other development partners in designing and implementing Results Based Financing (RBF) approaches to support the clean cook stoves sector.