Integration, decentralisation and implementation in rural development programming
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In the light of a number of recent African experiences, and in particular those of the Special Rural Development Programme in Kenya, this paper looks at the issues of integration, decentralisation and implementation in rural development programming. The issue of integration is found to have economic content where there is complementarity among projects such that an integrated package of projects is more productive than the sum of each of the projects taken individually. Where the programme does not encompass the entire country, and especially where explicitly welfare and human resource development projects are part of the integrated package, the concentration of government activities in programme areas can lead to major inequities in the inter-regional distribution of resources. Finally, while integrating various government and external interventions is important, of far greater importance is the integration of such activities with the activities and capacities of local-level producers and communities. Decentralisation is seen as the cure to the ills of inadequate localised knowledge in designing programmes, isolation of such programmes from local productive activities and capacities, and a lack of participation by local people. Decentralisation, however, does not necessarily cure these ills. Real power may not be devolved from the bureaucracy and the calibre of local-level bureaucrats may mean that the quality of planning suffers. The character of local participation depends on local power relations and the interests of the poorest strata are unlikely to be adequately represented, so that local inequities may be worsened, While local people are the repository of great expertise concerning their areas, which should be the basis for the development programme, they do not necessarily have all the appropriate information, nor the necessary institutional base, for designing optimal plans for their areas. Detailed knowledge of the local physical and institutional environment and the participation of local people in the development of their areas require that real decision-making must be decentralised, but the problems involved must be recognised and resolved in the process.