Towards rural futures: an approach through the planning of technologies
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This paper sets out to open up some apparently neglected aspects of the potential of technological research and development (R and D) for creating rural futures in third world countries, especially in South Asia and Africa. Against the background of forces which deepen and extend rural poverty, it suggests that new technology can either impoverish or, through imaginative R and D, may have a countervailing effect on the forces which tend to impoverish. It reviews some current approaches and then speculates on some gaps which they sometimes leave: R and D on R and D itself; learning from and working with rural people; environment specificity; a future-orientation. It outlines criteria and a method of planning for identifying desirable new technology and lists types of environment for which the method might be useful. The approach is not put forward as an alternative to current ideas of appropriate technology, but as a possible complement and supplement to them. Like other planning, it has risks. The question posed is whether the potential benefits justify the risks and costs of developing and pilot testing the proposed method.