Strengthening foundational development objectives

Adhering to fundamental patterns of development
The data and experiences accruing from rural development projects participating in the International Exposition of Rural Development, a three-year series of events organized by the Institute of Cultural Affairs during the early 1980s, indicated that there were three fundamental development objectives: (1) shared responsibility; (2) economic self-dependence; and (3) self-identity. It is claimed that they are related to establishing the capacity for initiating, implementing and sustaining development activities within the village community itself and that each is foundational to the process of development over the long term.

[Shared responsibility] is the shift in perspective from 'the Ministry of Rural Development is responsible' or 'the District Officer is responsible', or 'the agency is responsible for development,' to 'we are responsible'. The local community itself is responsible and is aided and assisted by support structures. It shifts the level of decision from the government offices to the village, not structurally, but in terms of emphasis. If the village or the group of poor farmers is responsible or the planning and implementation of the project, its possibility of failure is also theirs to deal with.

[Economic self-dependence] is a shift from emphasizing the increase of local cash income to increased use of all local resources. The local people, whether ordinary residents or members of a special group, come to see the value of their having greater control over all aspects of their lives, control that can only be obtained when the resources are in their control.

Of the three focal points, self-dependence takes the most time to be realized. The practitioner must think in long and short terms. The hardest work is the image shift required of the people and the practitioner. It can be thought of as a balance-of-payments question: everything from outside the local area is an import and must be paid for in cash, which means producing something for sale outside the local area. The practitioner does not decide for the group, but helps them be aware of the implications of a deficit in such a flow.

With [self-identity] the focus is on enabling reflection on their situation so that they keep that which is valuable from their past and create the new ways they decide are required to respond to the present and the future. It is not concerned with bringing people up to date or modernizing them. Nor conversely is it on protecting them from the modern world. Both of those are paternalistic attitudes. These three objectives are so closely interlinked that one cannot be talked of without consideration of the other two. From the perspective of shared responsibility, activities that increase economic self-dependence call for greater assumption of risk of the consequences on the part of members of the group. This greater assumption of risk requires a new level of responsibility shared among the people, or shared responsibility. This will not happen if they have a limited sense of themselves competent, worthwhile individuals or communities.

Those engaged in rural development who operate from these learnings have different objectives or points of focus from development work in the past. Whilst nothing replaces the need for adequate nutrition, clean drinking water, proper shelter and legal rights for all who live in rural areas, such goals are achieved as an intensification of fundamental community development objectives.
Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies