The role of growth centres in rural development: I. theory, methodology, data
Kimani, S. M.
Taylor, D. R. F.
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This paper summarizes the basic theory, methodology and data Of an extensive research project carried on in Muranga District from June 1972 to August 1973. This project was a joint venture between the Department of Geography, University of Nairobi and the Department of Geography, Carleton University, Ottawa. The project was funded by the International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada. The concept of growth centres plays an important part in the 1970-74 Development Plan and the basic hypothesis of this project is that the growth centre strategy, if refined and further developed could play a vital role in rural development in Kenya. In essence, it could form the keystone of a spatial strategy of rural development. It is argued that rural problems and urban problems should not be viewed in isolation but as an inter-related spatial system. The small place in the rural areas becomes vital in such a strategy as it is the interface between urban and rural systems, and an effective rural development strategy should concentrate on this interface. The research project set out to answer two basic questions; 1) What is the role of the growth centre in rural development? 2) How can this role be made more effective? To answer these questions it was necessary to build up a comprehensive data bank on the existing small centres and the people in their hinterlands. There were a number of elements involved. These included an understanding of the history of the centres; discernment and measurement of growth indicators especially the performance of the informal sector; the participation and involvement of the people; the linkages and interactions among centres and their hinterlands; the identification of the most likely centres for potential growth and diffusion of innovations and the spatial patterns of the centres together with the distribution of population. This paper will deal primarily with the methodology used and the data collected; a second paper will further develop the basic theory and give the major conclusions.