Understanding Rural Poverty

Rice farmer in Rwanda. Part of the image collection of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)

This course is the first in the Rural Poverty Reduction series, and provides an overview of rural poverty, and why it is so important to overcome it in rural contexts. The course describes the key concepts and definitions of rural poverty and how it can be measured, its drivers and cross-cutting themes. Finally, it considers the connection with gender issues and the way that gender shapes the way poverty is experienced by rural people.

This course is in English and Chinese

What will you learn?

  • Key concepts of rural poverty and the linkages between urban and rural context.
  • Monetary and non-monetary poverty measurements and indicators.
  • Drivers of rural poverty: assets, productivity and technology, social and human capital, environment and infrastructure.
  • The connections between rural poverty and cross-cutting themes: climate change, governance, migration, youth, nutrition and statistics.
  • The connections between gender and poverty.

What resources do you need to do it?

The online version of this course runs on the latest versions of the major browsers, such as Chrome, Safari, Edge and Firefox.

The downloadable version only runs on Windows PC’s and no additional software is needed.

More about this training

Those who complete the final exam at the end of this course with a passing score will receive a digital certification from the FAO elearning Academy, which is granted verify that you have achieved the learning outcomes and competencies outlined in FAO e-learning courses.

Course structure

The course consists of 5 lessons, ranging from approximately 35 to 60 minutes duration each:

  • Lesson 1 - What is rural poverty?
  • Lesson 2 - Rural poverty measurements and indicators
  • Lesson 3 - Drivers of rural poverty
  • Lesson 4 - Cross-cutting themes in rural poverty
  • Lesson 5 - Gender equality and rural poverty



This e-learning course is intended to improve the knowledge and capacities of a range of professionals with roles in rural poverty reduction, including:

  • Policymakers, policy administrators and policy officers
  • Researchers
  • Development practitioners
  • Members of civil society organizations
  • Media.


Who can I contact for more information?

For general inquiries please contact elearning-enquiries[at]fao.org

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