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Starting A Pilot Project In Rural Development

To start a pilot project in a region of any developing country would necessitate selection of areas with good potential for implementation of rural   development programs.

After a careful survey has been undertaken, the presence of all or some of the following factors may be necessary.

  1. The area  should have the rural inhabitants organized  in to a social or economic system  such as a village council  production
  2. The area has growth potential. Because of lack of necessary physical, human and financial resources and also infrastructures, the area has not developed. The area also has socio-economic and political potential with well defined objectives to be realized.
  3. The regional authority and private sector where the area is located can provide the supporting services needed for development and has  a minimum of relevant and needed infrastructure
  4. The size of land  holdings amongst the farmers does not vary  greatly and  the  land tenure  system allows free development
  5. Expenditure of large sums of money and long periods of waiting (longer than 3 to 4 years) will not be necessary   to achieve preliminary results, even though to attain the ultimate objectives of rural development. Longer term investments in the  form  of rural  electricity safe drinking water supply irrigation works and structures communication, roads, transport,  marketing, storage, etc must be made
  6. The optimum size, area, boundary and geographical section of the country which constitute the working unit for operation of a rural development project or programs must be carefully determined. Such an area must be economically viable and justify the investment made in agriculture-based industries, easily manageable and be in conformity with the skills, attitudes and conditions of rural people involved.

Effective planning and implementation of rural development programs involves functional and viable organizations and taking into account the following considerations.

The must be a national plan or program of rural development plus supporting national and regional policies, adequate financial resources and careful and wise use of such funds. In many developing countries an overall plan for rural development is difficult to formulate because of inadequate, reliable basic information at all levels. In such a case rural development planners must call can on all sectors f the economy and different social strata of its centralized or decentralized administration, its political structure government offices and administration at national, regional and area levels. Also, these organizations should be in harmony with the idea and program of rural development and be willing to participate and cooperate in is implementation.

A national plan must also include details of the financial technical and administrative effort that will be allocated to the program, the areas of major concentration the phasing and sequence of activities, and the coordination and linkage with the sector programs. Regional and local planning should involve the delegation of some central authority for program design and implementation to field trained staff who are in touch with rural people and can assess their problems and their political, socio-economic conditions, such staff who can mobilize local human and physical resources and can ensure greater participation by the rural people.

Experience of the last three decades of rural development in many developing  countries indicates that establishment of an office  of rural development, headed by the  highest political and administrative body of the country such as the monarch the president or the prime minister to coordinate national planning and program development carries considerable weight effectively is also there  to concentrate his efforts on the coordination of different  sectors and stop duplication of work  by specialized agencies which is  unwise, wasteful and ends in failure. Effective coordination is greatly needed at the national and regional levels to improve poor information services and also to coordinate the activities of the major government and private sector bodies involved in rural development. In fact, the success of a rural development program undertaken by any government agency depends on the sustained action and how well they keep in line with the overall objectives of the rural development plan

Decentralization is a prerequisite for effective implementation of rural development programs. It may involve the delegation of authority to formulate projects, allocate expenditure, run enterprises, and administer projects at provincial and regional levels and to raise revenue. To establish effective decentralization procedures an institutional arrangement in the form  of a regional  coordinating committee, regional  planning  organization and even local  government department should  be set up to resolve the many problems and issues at the local and regional levels without  referring them to the central authority. Generally, in large countries the responsibility for planning, budgeting and implementing rural development programs rests with the provincial (or state authorities, while in small countries it is mainly done at the national level. In most developing countries, it is the central planning organizations, ministries or special government or presidential units which establish plans, provide funds, coordinate and direct rural development activities. But the experience of over three decades of rural development projects and plans administered in many developing countries strongly indicates that effective planning and efficient administration at the district or country level is most effective in implementing rural projects. Then at the local level, diverse sectors of activity can be integrated or allowed some degree of flexibility in implementing project as they gain more experience. Moreover, when authority acceptance of responsibility and accountability for the work done is provided at the local level, it boosts the promotion of the project, particularly in the isolated regions of developing countries.

Many provincial authorities are badly handicapped by the small amount of the funs they can raise to support rural development projects. At the beginning due to inadequate training and experience of administrators and staff at the village and district levels, a decentralized rural development project may run un to difficulties but this may be overcome by sincere help and efforts   given by the regional authority or office. For example, in the people’s republic of China reliance on decentralized local (village) level management is the corner stone of the economic system. The same approach is now used in Kenya, India, Algeria and Tanzania.

The introduction of changes and the adoption of new techniques as part of a rural development program involve considerable participation by rural people in all phases of rural development. Obviously conditions and the form participation takes differ form one developing country to another, but overall indications show that selection, design and implementation of rural development projects should begin at the village or rural area level there is some evidence (209a) that early participation may be secured by a strengthened local authority then by officials who are located far away in the central government. In some developing countries and also in Bangladesh, Tanzania, Malaysia and Indonesia, the participation of local people takes the form of recommendations on priorities from local committees, which are composed of villagers and low level officials. These recommendations are passed to district (or county) level, followed by a regional level and finally arrive for study and approval at the central government office. This basic pattern of reaching agreement between villagers and low-ranking officials, plus the villagers  ‘involvement in decision making, followed by discussions at officials and non-officials has been quite effective  in the implementation of rural development projects. Indeed, each country has to find its own system of involving the rural people to prevent local politics dominating local officials, or on the other hand, the officials making all the decisions and recommendations. For example, local cooperative societies can help in ensuring considerable participation by their members in the different phases of rural development projects in general, and agricultural development in particular. The work of a well-established internal system of mutual aid such as nongovernmental agencies (aid agencies, missionaries etc.) shows the more successful examples in fostering cooperation, outside the framework of officialdom, and often in quite modest circumstances.

Another major consideration in national planning for the implementation of rural development programmes is the provision of trained and skilled manpower. A scarcity of skilled manpower is found in many developing countries at all levels. In many of these countries, skilled manpower is neither encouraged to work nor do they stay in rural areas, due to the lack of economic and social amenities. Thus the manpower in rural areas is not well trained, and is either too young or too old for their experience to be useful.

To get a rural project effectively and efficiently underway, the staff designated to live and work in rural areas should be given adequate pay and allowances. Their chances of promotion should be increased, their services, if successful, should be recognized and recompensed; and the education, well-being and comfort of their families should be seriously cared for. Moreover, where high level skilled staffs are not available, a more efficient use should be made of more junior staff.

Training should be simple and specific in handling the priorities and special needs of a particular rural population; especially in the areas of health, agricultural extension work and cooperative credit societies. It is also necessary for community leaders, such as school teachers, and for secretaries of cooperatives. New technical information should be provided to augment and revise outdated technical information in the form of day classes, weekend seminars, evening classes, etc. 

A national plan must also include details of the financial technical and administrative effort that will be allocated to the program, the areas of major concentration the phasing and sequence of activities, and the coordination and linkage with the sector programs.

Decentralization is a prerequisite for effective implementation of rural development programs. In may involve the delegation of authority to formulate projects, allocate expenditure, run enterprises, administer projects at provincial and regional levels and to raise revenue.

Generally, in large countries the responsibility for planning, budgeting and implementing rural development programs rests with the provincial (or state authorities, while in small countries it is mainly done at the national level.

The experience of over three decades of rural  development projects and plans administered  in many developing countries strongly indicates that effective planning and efficient administration a the  district or country level is most effective in implementing rural projects.

The participation of local people takes the form of recommendations on priorities from local committees, which are composed of villagers and low level officials.

Local cooperative societies can help in ensuring considerable participation by their members in the different phases of rural development projects in general, and agricultural development in particular.

Another major consideration in national planning for the implementation of rural development programs is the provision of trained and skilled manpower.

~~ These are the notes from my Rural Development class @ UoM ~~

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