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Part I. Introduction

Part I. Introduction

Chapter 1 Introduction

This introductory chapter explains how this publication relates to FAO's other work in the field of area development planning and outlines its objectives and scope.

1.1 Background

This publication has been prepared as part of an ongoing training programme by the Training Service of the Policy Analysis Division of FAO, the aim of which is to strengthen the local planning capacity in rural areas. This programme evolved out of FAO's work in agricultural planning. It was recognized that there is a need to decentralize agricultural planning to relatively small sub-national areas and to integrate agriculture with other aspects of rural development planning at this level. The specific need for training arose from a study of the experience with this sort of decentralized planning in a number of countries in the latter part of the 1980s, the findings of which are summarised in two earlier FAO publications: Training for Decentralized Planning: Lessons from Experience, by M. Maetz and M.G. Quieti (1987) and Training for Decentralized Planning: Proceedings of the Expert Consultation by M.G. Quieti (1989).

One of the main findings was that conventional regional planning methods, most of which have been developed for use in relatively large regions in resource-rich 'developed' countries, are of limited value in the much smaller rural regions (more appropriately known as districts) which form the basis of decentralized planning in most less developed countries, because they require unobtainable amounts of financial resources, skilled manpower and data. Consequently, the need to develop and disseminate planning approaches and techniques appropriate for use at this level was identified.

One of the outputs of the training programme was a publication entitled Rural Area Development Planning: A Review and Synthesis of Approaches (1990), which looks at the overall approach to rural area development planning. The report identifies a number of possible approaches, based on the experience in specific countries. This was followed in 1991 by a two-volume publication, entitled Rural Area Development Planning: Principles, Approaches and Tools of Economic Analysis. As the title suggests, this provides guidelines on specific planning techniques, which can be used within the broad planning approaches identified in the earlier publication, and focuses in particular on techniques of economic analysis. The present publication complements this, since it provides guidelines on techniques of social analysis.

1.2 The role of these Guidelines

The aim of this publication is to provide guidelines on the social aspects of agricultural and general rural development planning at the 'district' level. Its aim is to demonstrate to those involved in such planning the importance of social issues, the relationship between social and other aspects of planning, and the nature and scope of social analysis methods. The meaning of 'social' in this context is discussed in section 1.3 below.

The term "district"

The term 'district' is used here to refer to the relatively small administrative units which are the focus for the detailed planning and implementation of most agricultural and rural development projects. The actual size (in terms of both area and population) of a 'district' varies from one country to another, depending on particular circumstances, such as the size of the country, the density of population and the availability of administrative staff. However, it is characterized by the fact that it is usually the lowest level in the administrative hierarchy at which most government agencies involved in rural development are fully represented, and the level at which some sort of local government body is most likely to exist. It is thus a focal point for, on the one hand, 'horizontal' coordination between the various sectoral agencies involved in rural development and, on the other hand, 'vertical' coordination between national plans and policies from 'above' and community needs and aspirations from 'below'. Hence its importance in rural development planning.

The word 'district' is used because it is the most generally recognized name for such areas, especially in those countries which were once British colonies. However, anyone using these Guidelines should look at the administrative structure of his or her country in the light of the characteristics of a 'district' described above and decide which administrative unit fits this description most closely. In some cases, particularly in a relatively large country with a 'multilevel' structure, he or she might find that the Guidelines can be applied to more than one level. For example, in India, they should be applicable at both the district and the block level.

Users of these Guidelines

The Guidelines are intended primarily for use by those responsible for designing training programmes for staff engaged in planning at district level. The intention is to indicate the types of methodological issues and techniques which should be included in either a special course on the social aspects of planning or as part of an integrated training programme. Some hints for trainers are provided in Chapter 2. However, the Guidelines can also be used by practitioners themselves. For example, someone responsible for agricultural or rural planning at district level who is aware of the need to incorporate social issues but not sure how to do so should be able to use these Guidelines to point him or her in the right direction. The most obvious users will be public servants and local government officials. However, the material is equally relevant to the staff of non-government organizations (NGOs) engaged in rural development planning at district (or equivalent) level.

As already indicated in section 1.1, this publication is intended primarily as a contribution to FAO's training programme in support of decentralized planning, and in particular as a sequel to the earlier publication on Principles, Approaches and Tools of Economic Analysis. However, it also complements some of FAO's other training publications and activities, especially the Guide for Training in the Formulation of Agricultural and Rural Investment Projects and the training programme in food and agricultural policy analysis. Although the level and focus of analysis is different, the material presented in these Guidelines will supplement the brief sections on social issues in both these training programmes.

1.3 What is social analysis?

The word 'social' is not easy to define. Most people know roughly what the word means but when asked to define it they are likely to give a variety of different answers. It is necessary to look briefly at this problem here, in order to be clear as to what is - and is not - included in the term 'social' in these Guidelines.

Holistic and residual approach

There are two main ways of defining 'social' which are commonly used. One is what might be called the 'holistic' approach, which defines 'social' as anything relating to people or society. This is a very broad definition, which could include most aspects of rural development, in so far as rural development implies the development of rural people or rural societies. The other is most appropriately known as the 'residual' approach since it defines 'social' as anything which is not 'economic'. The main problem with this approach is that there is no one definition of the word 'economic'. Sometimes, 'economic' is defined very narrowly to refer only to 'financial' or, at most, 'directly productive' issues or activities, in which case the residual 'social' issues or activities are relatively broad in scope. However, there is probably an increasing tendency among economists to define 'economic' in much broader terms, even to the point of including most issues or activities related to rural development, on the grounds that they are all directly or indirectly related, in which case there is little if anything left under the heading of 'social'.

It is obvious that neither of the above approaches is very useful in determining what should and should not be included in a publication or training course on social analysis For practical purposes, it is more useful to define in more specific terms the types of issues or activities which are most likely to be regarded as 'social' in nature, while recognising that some of these might also be included under the term 'economic'.

Social issues and activities

The most obvious of these 'social' issues and activities are those related to:

Therefore, for the purposes of these Guidelines, the term 'social analysis' will be used to refer to the analysis of issues or activities related to any or all of the above.

1.4 The need for an integrated approach to planning

Although these Guidelines focus on particular aspects or dimensions of planning - notably the social aspects of rural development planning at district (or equivalent) level, it is important at the outset to remember that most planning issues and problems are interrelated and so, in practice, an integrated approach is essential. More specifically, it should be noted that:

It is therefore important to recognize that these Guidelines relate to only part of the planning process and thus must be used in some sort of broader planning context. The implications of this are discussed in Chapter 2 and in appropriate places in Parts II and III.


Chapter 2 Using the Guidelines

This chapter explains how the rest of the publication is organized, suggests how it should be used and provides some hints for those wishing to use these Guidelines to develop their own training programmes.

2.1 Organization of the Guidelines

The rest of this publication is divided into two parts.

Part II provides an introduction to the nature and role of social analysis in planning. It is divided into two chapters. Chapter 3 looks at the social aspects of rural development, including the social characteristics of rural areas, the process of 'social development', and the relationship between social and economic development. And Chapter 4 focuses on the social aspects of planning, including the scope of 'social planning' in general, ways of incorporating social issues into district level planning, and the practical problems of doing so.

Part III is then devoted to the actual methods of social analysis at district level. The aim is to introduce the reader to the range of methods which can be used, when they should be used and their advantages and disadvantages. It is divided into five chapters, each of which covers a particular aspect of social analysis. Chapter 5 looks at ways of obtaining information about the social characteristics of rural societies. Chapter 6 considers the formulation of social policy, using the examples of nutrition, education and water supply. Chapter 7 looks at methods of assessing the social costs and benefits of specific projects or programmes. Chapter 8 focuses on planning to meet the special needs of disadvantaged sectors of the population, such as the poor, the landless, women and children. And finally Chapter 9 considers ways of encouraging popular participation in planning, a very important dimension of social planning which cuts across the other categories.

Each chapter begins (like this one) with a brief introduction to its contents and ends with a summary of the main points made and a short annotated list of relevant and relatively easily accessible reading material.

2.2 The case study approach

In order to give some practical meaning to the material presented in Parts II and III, its application will be illustrated throughout the text by reference to a hypothetical district, called Gondwanaland, in the equally hypothetical country of New Kolonia. Some basic information about Gondwanaland

District is given in the Annex to this chapter. Then at appropriate places in Parts II and III, the application of the specific issues or methods under discussion will be demonstrated by showing how they can be applied in Gondwanaland. These illustrations will constitute an integral part of the text, but they will be presented in the form of 'boxes', so that they can be clearly distinguished from the rest of the text.

The characteristics of Gondwanaland District have been deliberately chosen to illustrate a wide variety of local conditions, in order to demonstrate the use of social analysis in the many different kinds of rural environment which exist in various parts of the world. And the use of the names Gondwanaland (which is the name given to an ancient continent made up of what is now Africa, Latin America, the Indian sub-continent and Antarctica) and New Kolonia is intended to reinforce this impression. Consequently, readers should not try to identify Gondwanaland or New Kolonia with any real-life district or country; nor should they be concerned that they have never heard of a district or a country with characteristics quite like these. Most readers will probably find that some aspects of Gondwanaland resemble conditions in their own country, while other aspects do not.

2.3 Applications of the Guidelines

As indicated in Chapter 1, these Guidelines are intended for use by trainers or practitioners of rural area development planning. However, they cannot in their present form be used as either a training course or a manual. There are several reasons for this. In the first place, a training course or manual would require more detail than it has been possible to provide here, particularly on how to use the various methods or techniques described in Part III. Secondly, it should be written in a more didactic, or 'how to do it' form, including (for example) step-by-step instructions and sample exercises. And thirdly, a training course or manual on area planning is most useful if it is designed specially for use in a particular country, and preferably also for a particular cadre of staff in that country. The intention here, therefore, is merely to indicate to trainers and practitioners the role which social analysis can play, the main issues involved and the range of methods available. Hence the use of the term guidelines.

Because the Guidelines are intended for use in a wide variety of countries, each with its own particular physical, social, economic and political/administrative conditions and its own approach to planning, they have been designed so that the material can be used in a number of different ways, depending on the particular interests of the user. For example, it is envisaged that some readers may wish to read the whole text in order to gain an overview of the field as a whole, while others may, after reading Part I, review the contents of Parts II and III and (at least initially) select only those sections which appear to be immediately relevant to their particular needs. For those who are not sure whether or how various sections might be relevant to their own situation, the use of the hypothetical case study district (introduced in section 2.2) should give some indication of possible uses.

For similar reasons, the Guidelines do not provide guidance on the overall approach to planning which might be adopted at district level. In fact, the intention is that most of the issues raised and methods described here are applicable in a wide range of planning approaches. It is recommended that any reader who wants to know more about alternative planning approaches refer to the earlier publication in this series, entitled Rural Area Development Planning: A Review and Synthesis of Approaches. However, this does not mean that the overall approach to planning is not important. On the contrary, it should be emphasised that, as already noted in Chapter 1, the aspects of planning covered in these Guidelines should not be practiced in isolation but as part of a wider, integrated planning system.

2.4 Some hints for trainers

For the benefit of those readers who wish to use these Guidelines to help formulate a training course, it may be useful to give some more specific ideas as to how this might be done. It is suggested that, after either reading the Guidelines as a whole or gaining a general idea of their scope and content, the following questions be addressed:

1. Who is the training course for?

For example, is it for people working at a level equivalent to a 'district' and, if not, what is their interest in 'district' planning? Will all the trainees be from one district and/or one discipline, sector or department? What particular interest, if any, do they have in the social aspects of planning?

2. Will the course focus solely on the social aspects of planning

If it will, it is necessary to be aware of the broader planning framework within which social issues will be addressed. If it will not, there is a need to think about the relative importance of social issues in relation to other parts of the course and how they can best be integrated into the course as a whole.

3. Is the overall approach to planning practised in the district and/or country concerned clearly articulated and the methodology specifically defined?

If it is, the need is merely to define how the social aspects of planning fit into this; but if it is not, it will be necessary to think more carefully about the various ways in which social issues might be addressed in the absence of a comprehensive planning system.

4. What specific sections of the Guidelines are most relevant?

It should be quite easy to answer this question after addressing the first three, since by then it should be reasonably clear what aspects of social analysis should be covered in the course. It should be noted that in some cases the course may focus on only one aspect of social analysis (eg. assessing social costs and benefits, participatory planning).

5. How can the material in the Guidelines be related to the practical situations faced by the trainees?

There are several ways in which this can be done, depending in part on the type of trainees and the time and resources available for training. The three most obvious possibilities are:

6 What additional information is needed to supplement that in the Guidelines?

In order to turn the Guidelines into a training manual, there is a need for more detail on each of the issues or techniques selected, including step-by-step information on how to use the techniques, worked examples and/or the kinds of case studies or practical exercises discussed under 5. above. The reading lists at the end of each chapter should help the trainer to get the information needed.

7. What is the best way of communicating information to the trainees?

The answer to this question will depend on both the type of information concerned and the type of trainees. Two of the most important considerations - notably the need to relate the material to the trainees' own experiences and to present instructions in a detailed step-by-step format - have already been covered under 5. and 6. above. In addition, it should be noted that a course on social analysis should aim to impart not only new skills and knowledge but also new attitudes - especially attitudes towards rural people. This can best be done by putting the trainees into a position where they can appreciate rural people's point of view. Two ways of doing this are extended field visits and role-playing exercises.

8. What resources are available for the training programme?

The term 'resources' is used here to include finance, trainers, training aids and time. The aim should be to produce the best training programme possible with the resources available.

When all these questions have been addressed, the trainer should have most of the information needed to prepare a course which will both meet the particular training need and be feasible in terms of the resources available.





Gondwanaland is one of six districts in the Central Region of New Kolonia (see Map 1). The district headquarters, Gondwana, is about 475 kms. by road from the national capital and main port of Alfa The area of the district is 16,575 sq.kms.

Map 1 - Location of Gondwanaland district

Natural resources

The district is varied in terrain (see Map 2). Most of the area consists of an undulating plateau between 700 and 900 metres in altitude. However, a ridge of hills, rising to over 1500 metres in places, traverses the central part of the district in a northwest-southeasterly direction, while the eastern boundary of the district is marked by the valley of the River Mvura.

The average annual rainfall varies from 1000-1250 mms. in the hills to 400-500 mms. in the 'rain shadow' area in the extreme west of the district. In the remaining areas it is mainly between 700 and 900 mms.

There is a large area of indigenous forest in the southeast of the district, which is designated as a forest reserve and managed by the state-owned National Forestry Commission. There is no mining activity in the district at present, but there are some undeveloped coal deposits in the extreme west.

Map 2 - Gondwanaland: physical features


The total population of the district (based on a national census carried out in 1990) is approximately 445,000. The average population density for the district as a whole (including the forest reserve) is 27 per However, densities vary from 50-70 per in the most densely populated parts of the hills and the Mvura valley to less than 10 per in the semi-arid western area (see Map 3).

There are two main ethnolinguistic groups in the District: the Gonds, who account for about 52% of the population and inhabit the river valley and the eastern part of the plateau area; and the Wana, who account for about 42% and are dominant in the hills and the southwestern part of the plateau. They are two of the main ethnolinguistic groups in New Kolonia, accounting for 20% and 18% respectively of the national population. However, the semi-arid western part of the district is occupied by the Hurda, who are one of a number of small minority groups inhabiting the central part of the country. They are a semi-nomadic pastoral people, very different in physical characteristics' culture and mode of life from the dominant Gonds and Wand They account for just over 5% of the total district population.

Map 3 - Gondwanaland: population density

Agro-economic zones

The district can be divided into five main 'agro-economic' zones (see Map 4) on the basis of natural resources, population, agriculture and other economic activities. The main characteristics of these zones are as follows:

Zone I: This is the Mvura River valley. It is a wide, flat-bottomed valley, with fertile alluvial soils and an average annual rainfall of 700-900 mms. It is one of the most densely populated parts of the district, inhabited predominantly by Gonds, who cultivate rice, millet, sweet potatoes and vegetables and keep small numbers of cattle. A simple system of flood irrigation is used for rice and vegetable cultivation. Damage to crops and settlements sometimes occurs, when the river floods more than usual.

Zone II: This is an undulating plateau with moderately fertile, predominantly black soils and an average rainfall of 700-900 mms. It is less densely populated than Zone I. The main food crop is millet, while cotton and sunflower are important cash crops. Irrigation is not practiced. There are considerable numbers of cattle and goats. The zone is divided into two parts by the ridge of hills which dissects the district: Zone IIa, which lies east of the hills and is inhabited predominatly by Gonds; and Zone IIb, which lies to the southwest of the hills and is inhabited mainly by Wana

Zone III: This is the hilly part of the district. The soils are red and moderately fertile, but there are some steep slopes where soils are shallow and cultivation is not possible. The rainfall varies according to location but averages 1000-1250 mms. per annum. The area is densely populated, although densities vary depending on the availability of cultivable land. There is a shortage of land and, due to this and the steep slopes, erosion is a serious problem. The people are predominantly Wana They cultivate maize, bananas, coffee and vegetables and keep as many cattle as they can on the limited land available. Irrigation is sometimes used.

Zone IV: The natural resources of this zone are similar to those of Zone III. However, the area is covered by indigenous forest, which is managed as a state forest reserve by the National Forestry Commission. No-one is allowed to live in the reserve, but it is illegally used for grazing cattle and cutting firewood by Wana from the neighbouring parts of Zone III. The Forestry Commission cuts and sells timber from the area, but only at a rate which allows natural regeneration.

Zone V: This is an undulating plateau, similar to Zone II but with a significantly lower rainfall (400-500) mms. per annum) because it is in the rain shadow created by the hills. It is sparsely populated, almost entirely by the semi-nomadic pastoral Hurda, who keep large herds of cattle and goats. There is a small amount of millet cultivation. The undeveloped coal deposits are in this zone.

Map 4 - Gondwanaland: agro-economic zones

Infrastructure and settlement

Map 5 shows the main roads and towns in the district. The largest town is Gondwana, which is located near the border of Zones II and III. It is the administrative headquarters of the district and the main commercial centre and it has a few small-scale industries and a hospital. The only other significant urban settlement is Mvura, which is on the main trunk road from Alfa (the national capital) to the inland industrial city of Omega, at the junction with the main road to Gondwana However, there are four smaller urban settlements Norton, Crossroads, Southerton and Hilltop, located in Zones I, IIa, IIb and III respectively - and a number of minor trading centres not shown on the map. There are no settlements of any size in Zone V.

There are two tarred roads in the district: the main trunk road from Alfa to Omega, which follows the edge of the Mvura valley; and the road from Mvura to Gondwana, which goes on to Southerton. Most parts of the district are reasonably well served by all-weather gravel roads. The exception again is Zone V, which is very isolated because the only access is a poor quality earth road which is often impassable when there is heavy rain in the hills.

Map 5 - Gondwanaland: infrastructure and settlement

Local government and administration

Like all districts in New Kolonia, Gondwana has a district council. Its main functions are the construction and maintenance of all non-tarred roads, the construction and operation of primary and secondary schools (though curriculum and standards are a central government responsibility and teachers belong to a national teaching service), the construction and operation of clinics and the provision of a mobile primary health care service (subject again to national policy), environmental health services, the construction and maintenance of rural and urban water supplies, and the licensing of business enterprises. The district is divided into 44 wards, each with an elected councillor. Elections are held every three years. The Council's main sources of revenue are a poll tax (which never yields as much money as intended), licence fees and grants from the central government.

At the local level, each village is required by government to elect a village development committee, to oversee the administration development of the village. The chairpersons of these committees are, among other duties, responsible for collecting poll tax on behalf of the Council. Each village also has a village court, which has jurisdiction over matters related to traditional or customary law.

Various central government agencies are represented in the district, including the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources (which has an extension officer in each ward), the Ministry of Education (which oversees the Council's education services), the Ministry of Health (which runs the district hospital and supervises Council clinics), the Ministry of Public Works (responsible for the maintenance of tarred roads and government buildings), the Ministry of Community Development and Social Welfare (which has extension staff at ward level), the Ministry of Cooperatives, the National Forestry Commission, and the National Agricultural Marketing Board. However, the district representatives of these agencies have very limited powers, most decisions being made at provincial and, in particular, national levels.

The most senior public servant in the district is the District Secretary, who is the representative of the Prime Minister's Office. He is supposed to coordinate all development activities in the district, but his ability to do this is limited because he has no direct control over the staff of other ministries. The main instrument of coordination is the District Development Committee (DDC), which is chaired by the District Secretary and composed of representatives of the various central government agencies and the District Council. However, since it is little more than an advisory body, its impact is also limited. Its main role is to determine the allocation of the Rural Development Fund (RDF), a sum of about NK$ 1 million which is made available annually to each district to support small-scale development projects.

National government

New Kolonia has a multi-party system of government. There are two main parties, the National Development Party (NDP), and the People's Progressive Party (PPP). Support for the two parties tends to be based on ethnolinguistic divisions. Thus, for example, most Gonds vote for the NDP while the Wana tend to support the PPP. Elections are normally held every five years. At the last election, which was three years ago, the NDP was elected by a majority of 61%. However, its popularity has since declined, primarily due to the harsh effects of an IMF/World Bank sponsored structural adjustment programme, which the NDP government embarked upon two years ago. The PPP is thus campaigning strongly for early elections.

Although local government elections are not officially held on party lines, national party politics tends to have a major indirect influence because of the connection between ethnic origin and party affiliation. This is especially true in districts like Gondwanaland, where the population is fairly evenly divided between supporters of the two parties.

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