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Part II. The nature and role of social analysis in planning

Part II. The nature and role of social analysis in planning

Chapter 3 Social development in rural areas

This chapter provides an overview of the social aspects of development in rural areas. It examines the social characteristics of rural areas, the nature and scope of 'social development', the relationship between social and economic development, and the political aspects of social development. Its aim is to introduce the reader to the types of issues which need to be considered when looking at area development planning from a social point of view.

3.1 The social characteristics of rural areas

The term 'social characteristics' is (as indicated in section 1.3) used to refer to any or all of the following aspects of an area:

It is very difficult to generalize about the characteristics of rural areas, even if one confines oneself to the so-called less developed countries, since there is enormous variation both between and within countries. And it is particularly difficult to generalize about the social characteristics because there tends to be a great deal of local variation, including variations due to differences in the social position, behaviour and attitudes of individuals or small groups of people. For example, one should not be surprised to find significant social differences between neighbouring villages in the same agro-economic environment.

This has major implications for social analysis. It means that one should not make decisions which affect the lives of people in an area on the basis of inadequate or over-generalized information on the social characteristics of the area. And this in turn means that obtaining basic information on the social characteristics of an area is an important component of social analysis. The various ways in which such information can be obtained will be discussed in Chapter 5. Meanwhile, Box 3.1 illustrates the type of information one might obtain and the degree of variation which exists by presenting 'pen portraits' of two villages in the hilly area (agroeconomic zone III) of Gondwanaland District.

However, despite the great deal of variation, it is possible to make some very broad generalizations about some of the social characteristics of rural societies. It is particularly important that those involved in planning at district level note the following characteristics:

1. The integrated nature of rural society

Most rural societies are relatively 'integrated', in the sense that the various components of life (eg. agricultural and non-agricultural, 'economic', 'social' end 'political', religious and secular) are closely interrelated. Rural people do not easily recognize the distinctions which planners, extension workers and other government officials make between, for example, the responsibilities of different agencies or 'economic' and 'social' planning, because in their own lives all these things affect each other. This is why an integrated approach to planning is essential at this level and why projects or programmes which are planned from only one point of view (eg. the 'agricultural' or the 'economic') frequently fail because they do not take account of other related aspects.

2. The importance of the natural resource base

Most people in rural areas are dependent directly or indirectly on the natural resources of the area for their livelihood. Most rural planners, and especially agricultural planners, recognize this, and thus emphasize the importance of agricultural development activities. However, sometimes they do not appreciate its full implications. They do not always realize the intricate nature of the relationship between the people and their environment, which has evolved over centuries and is reflected in all aspects of life, not merely those directly related to agricultural production.

Since agricultural projects and programmes almost inevitably involve some change in this relationship between people and environment, they will only be successful if all aspects of the present relationship are taken into consideration in the planning stage. This does not mean that the existing relationship is the best one, or that there is always a 'natural' balance between human activities and the environment. In many cases, this is not so, and that is often why some sort of intervention is necessary. It merely means that one cannot introduce change without considering all the aspects or implications of the change, and that means understanding the full nature of the relationship between people and environment.

BOX 3.1


Muriwana and Wiriwana are two villages in Zone III, the hilly part of Gondwanaland District. Although they are both in the same agro-economic zone, there are significant differences in their social characteristics, due to a combination of locational and historical factors and the impact of individual personalities. The main characteristics of each are summarised below.

Background: Muriwana is located on the main gravel road from Gondwana to Hilltop. It is a large village, with a general store, bar, coffee huller, grinding mill, primary and secondary schools and clinic. It is an important coffee growing area Wiriwana is in the extreme southwest of the zone, 5 kms. from the nearest all-weather road. It is a much smaller village and, although it has its own primary school, the nearest store, coffee huller, secondary school and clinic are located at a village on this road, about 6 kms. away. There is much less coffee than in Muriwana, because of transport and processing problems.

Demography: Muriwana has 112 households, with a total population of about 630, and its population growth rate of 2.8% per annum is higher than the district average due to a considerable amount of in-migration. Wiriwana has only 30 households and 152 people; many people (especially young men) leave the village, either temporarily or permanently, in search of employment, resulting in a below average growth rate (2.2% per annum), an unusually large proportion of children and elderly people, and a large number of female-headed households.

Ethnolinguistic characteristics: Both villages are inhabited predominantly by Wana; but in Muriwana there are also small numbers of Gonds and Hurda.

Social structure: Muriwana consists of three main hamlets, which are inhabited by different clans, each with its own traditional leader. However, the official village development committee, which covers all three hamlets, is chaired by a school teacher, who is an 'outsider' and thus does not belong to any of the three main clans. There are significant income inequalities within the village, with the large coffee growers and those with nonagricultural income at one end of the scale and a number of landless labourers and female-headed households at the other. Wiriwana, on the other hand, is a much more cohesive community, consisting of only one clan and thus one traditional leader, who is also the chairman of the village development committee. Income differentials are less, the wealthiest being those who grow coffee or receive a regular income from migrant workers and the poorest being households headed by widows or women whose husbands have deserted them.

Land tenure: In Muriwana the traditional communal land tenure system has largely broken down, so most land is owned individually and can be bought and sold. But in Wiriwana communal land tenure still prevails, though coffee (and other) trees are individually owned.

Religious beliefs: In Muriwana there is a mixture of religious groups, including Protestants, Catholics and Muslims, while some people do not practice any religion. In Wiriwana, almost everyone belongs to the Catholic church, which has had a mission nearby for many years and runs the local primary school.

Other beliefs and practices: Many traditional cultural beliefs and practices have broken down in Muriwana There is, in particular, very little traditional cooperative activity, and that which remains is practiced on a clan rather than a village basis. In Wiriwana traditional beliefs and practices continue to be important and there is a strong spirit of cooperation based on traditional practice.

Attitudes to 'development': The people of Muriwana are, on the whole, ambitious and individualistic - willing to try something new but on an individual rather than a community basis. In contrast, the people of Wiriwana are less ambitious and more cautious about adopting innovations, but much more willing to embark upon group ventures.

3. The mixture of cohesion and division in rural society

Stereotype images of rural society tend to fall into two apparently contradictory categories. Some people think that rural communities are places where there are strong social and economic ties between the various individuals and groups, wealth is relatively equally distributed, and there is a high degree of traditional cooperation which can be utilised as the basis for developing new forms of cooperative venture. The other school of thought argues that rural communities are characterized by inter-group and interpersonal competition and conflict, inequality, and concern with individual rather than community needs and priorities.

This difference of opinion can be partly explained by the variation between countries and between individual communities within a country. For example, someone whose experience is in Africa is more likely to have the first view than someone from Asia or Latin America, where rural inequalities tend to be greater and more obvious. Similarly, the two villages in Gondwanaland District described in Box 3.1 demonstrate the degree of variation possible between individual communities.

However, it can also be explained by the fact that most communities are in fact a complex mixture of the two stereotypes. For example, there are usually strong social and economic ties within a community and a tradition of cooperative effort for certain activities. But this does not normally result in equality and harmony. There is usually a considerable amount of competition and conflict and some individuals and groups tend to gain much more from the socio-economic linkages than others. Furthermore, the fact that some activities are traditionally undertaken on a cooperative basis does not mean that the community will willingly and easily embark upon other forms of cooperative activity, especially if these are of a commercial nature. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that, because all rural communities are composed of various individuals and groups, each with its own needs, interests and priorities, one should be very cautious about making statements or assumptions such as 'This community thinks this way' or 'This village is willing to do this'.

4. The mixture of inward- and outward-looking tendencies

The situation is similar when one considers the extent to which people in rural communities foster or are dependent upon linkages with individuals or organizations outside the immediate community. Firstly, there is much variation from one place to another. For example, in areas near cities or where the agricultural system is highly commercialised, external linkages will obviously be stronger than in isolated communities dependent primarily on subsistence production. There are also significant differences of this sort between the two Gondwanaland villages described in Box 3.1.

However, in most cases one finds that, although there are (as indicated above) strong social and economic ties within the community, there are also important external linkages. These take many forms, including links through marriage outside the community, the movement of temporary migrants (and/or their remittances) in and out of the community for economic or educational purposes, trading links, and links resulting from the use of social and administrative services (eg. hospitals, government offices) outside the community. In order to understand any particular rural community, and therefore its development potential and problems, it is necessary to understand the nature and importance of these linkages.

5. The mixture of continuity and change in rural society

There is also a tendency for so-called 'experts' in rural development to have contradictory views on the extent to which people in rural areas are willing to accept innovation and change. One school of thought emphasizes the importance of traditional culture and behaviour and the generally conservative nature of rural (and especially agricultural) people, illustrating its case with examples of farmers who have refused to accept agricultural innovations advocated by extension workers. The other argues that rural people are always willing to try new ideas and traditional customs seldom hamper innovation.

Once again, this can be partly explained by actual differences between communities. For example, in the case of the two villages illustrated in Box 3.1, Wiriwana is, because of its relatively isolated location and 'older' population, more obviously 'conservative' in attitude than Muriwana. However, there is more to it than that. In reality most rural communities display a complex mixture of 'progressive' and 'conservative' characteristics. There are two main reasons for this.

Firstly, most people are influenced by both 'traditional' and 'modern' customs and attitudes, often in a complex way which results in all sorts of conflicts and contradictions within individuals, families and groups. Anyone who was born in a village but has spent much of his or her life in urban employment is well aware of this. It is the combined effects of the traditional and modern influences which determine how an individual or community reacts to innovation. For example, although Wiriwana village might at first sight appear to be rather conservative, closer investigation is likely to reveal that the people will be willing to adopt changes provided that these can be integrated into the existing social structures and customs. In fact, such structures and customs can actually be beneficial - for example, by providing a basis for cooperative activities, which are unlikely to be successful in Muriwana.

Secondly, most people weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of adopting any form of innovation very carefully before making a decision, and in so doing they assess these advantages and disadvantages according to their own criteria - which may not always be the same as those of the people in the next house or village, or those of the extension worker (or other person) advocating the change. There is much debate, particularly among economists, as to whether rural people behave rationally. In most cases, the answer to this question depends on how one defines 'rational'. If 'rational' means choosing the course of action which a professional economist considers to be the most economically productive, few people - rural or otherwise - are consistently rational. But if 'rational' means weighing up the perceived advantages and disadvantages, economic and otherwise, and making a decision accordingly, most rural people behave rationally. It is therefore important that extension workers and planners try to see things from the people's point of view, so that they can understand how and why decisions are made.

The main conclusion which emerges from all these points is the complexity of rural society and, therefore, the need for those involved in rural planning to understand these complexities. The various ways in which such an understanding can be acquired will be discussed in Chapter 5.

3.2 The concept of social development

There is widespread agreement that any kind of rural development policy or programme should consider the social as well as the economic aspects of development in rural areas. There are two main arguments in favour of this. One is that the social and economic aspects of development are so closely related that one cannot pursue one aspect without also considering the other. The other argument is that, irrespective of its relationship to economic development, 'social development' is a desirable objective in its own right. The validity of these arguments and their implications in terms of overall development strategies and priorities will be considered in section 3.3. Before doing so, however, it is necessary in this section to look briefly at what is meant by 'social development', how it is measured and what it involves.

What is social development?

There are many different ways of defining 'social development', or the 'social aspects' of development, depending on how one defines the word 'social'. For the purposes of these Guidelines, however, the term 'social development' will be used to mean positive changes in relation to any of those issues or activities defined as 'social' in section 1.3 of Chapter 1, notably:

To simplify subsequent discussion, these four will collectively be refered to as 'social conditions'.

Measuring social development

As with economic development, it is necessary to be able to measure the degree or 'level' of social development in a particular area or society at a given point in time, so that one can make comparisons between areas or societies and record changes over time. In order to do this, one must select appropriate social indicators - that is, things that can be measured in order to give a good indication of the degree or level of social development. When selecting appropriate social indicators, there are three main requirements which need to be considered.

Social indicators

Firstly, the indicators should provide an adequate reflection of the type of social development one is trying to measure. This means that they should cover all relevant aspects of social development (social characteristics, quality of life, social services, social justice) and that they should reflect what is generally agreed as being a 'positive' change in these characteristics. In some cases, this is relatively easy. For example, there are some fairly obvious and generally accepted indicators of quality of life (eg. per capita income; infant mortality; food consumption; quality of housing) and of access to social services (eg. distance to the nearest school, health facility or water supply; school attendance; population per doctor).

However, even in these cases there are debatable issues, especially when one gets down to the details of exactly what to measure. Should one measure food consumption in terms of the total number of calories consumed or distinguish between foods with different nutrient values? Should one simply measure the quality of life by household or try to distinguish between different household members (eg. men, women and children)? Is distance to social services an adequate measure of access if other factors (eg. availability of transport, charges for services, social customs or taboos) also affect access? And when it comes to some other aspects of social development, especially those related to social justice, it is much more difficult to find appropriate indicators. For example, how does one measure respect for human rights or the degree of participation in decision-making?

Availability and collection of data

Secondly, it must be possible to obtain the data needed to actually measure the variables selected as indicators, either from secondary sources (ie. data already collected and available for use) or by cost-effective data collection exercises. This is often a major problem. Much of the information one would like to have is not available, at least in the form in which it is required, and the costs of collecting it are prohibitive. For example, most of the indicators of quality of life require detailed household surveys, which are expensive and time-consuming to undertake. The problems are particularly great at district level, especially if one requires information for a particular project or programme, rather than merely to give a general impression of the level of social development. Any secondary data available is likely to have been collected for national planning purposes, and thus to be of limited value for this particular project or programme, and one seldom has the resources necessary to carry out a comprehensive data collection exercise of one's own.

Data to enable comparisons

Thirdly, the data must be available in a form which enables comparisons to be made between different areas or societies and over time. This means that the data must be expressed in a comparative or 'scalable' form. This is easy to do when the data is in quantitative (ie. numerical) form, but it is more difficult when, as is often the case with social data, it is qualitative in nature. In the latter case, one can either use some sort of qualitative scale (eg. 'high', 'medium', 'low'; 'very good', 'good', 'fair', 'poor', 'very poor') or give brief written descriptions which indicate the main points of similarity and/or difference.

It also means that the data must be collected at regular intervals, so that comparisons can be made over time, and that it must be disaggregated (or broken down) on the basis of the areas or groups that one wishes to compare. This is often a problem at district level, if one is relying on data collected for national planning purposes. For example, most countries undertake sample household surveys at regular intervals, but the samples are generally too small to provide meaningful information about variations within a district and, because of the time taken to process large quantities of data, the information is often not available until long after it was collected, by which time it may well be out-of-date.

Choice of few 'key' indicators

Because of the problems of obtaining accurate, comprehensive data, one often has to rely on a few 'key' indicators of social development, for which information is readily available and which are correlated with other factors which it is not possible to measure. For example, per capita income, infant mortality, life expectancy at birth and adult literacy are generally recognised as useful 'key' indicators of the general quality of life. Sometimes a number of key indicators are combined to form a 'composite' index. One such example is the 'index of human suffering' illustrated in Table 3.1.

















South Africa






















Explanatory note:

The Index incorporates the following indicators:

Each indicator is rated on a scale of 0 to 10 and the ratings for all indicators are then added together. The total score (which can vary from 0 to 100) is the Index of Human Suffering. Note that a high score is a negative indication, in that it indicates a high degree of suffering or conversely a low quality of life.


Africa South & East, November 1992, p. 30; based on data compiled by the Population Crisis Committee, Washington DC, USA.

Box 3.2 provides some general information on the level of social development in Gondwanaland District, using indicators that can usually be obtained on a district basis. Chapter 5 will discuss ways of collecting this sort of information.

BOX 3.2


Quality of life

Infant mortality (per 1000 live births) 1990: 68

Average proportion of children under 5 years attending clinics who were malnourished in 1992: 9%

Adult literacy 1990:

    male: 62%;

    female: 53%

Average land cultivated per household 1991: 1.9 hectares

Average number of livestock units owned per household 1991: 9

Average annual agricultural income per household 1991: NK$ 560

Proportion of households owning 1990:

    motor vehicle: 9%

    plough: 57%

    bicycle: 28%

    radio: 25%

Social services

Proportion of primary school age children at school 1992:

    male: 89%

    female: 78%

Proportion of 1991 primary school leavers going on to secondary school:

    male: 48%;

    female: 35%

Proportion of population within 5 kms. of primary school 1992: 85%

Proportion of population within 10 kms. Of secondary school 1992: 78%

Average class size 1992:

    primary: 38;

    secondary: 34

Proportion of population within 10 kms. of clinic 1992: 82%

Proportion of population served by mobile MCH clinic 1992: 73%

Population per doctor 1992: approx. 111,000

Population per hospital bed 1992: 1485

Proportion of households with water supply 1990:

    inside house: 6%

    less than 100 metres: 24%

    101-1000 metres: 38%

    over 1000 metres: 32%

Proportion of households with toilets 1990:

    flush: 5%;

    pit: 57%;

    none: 38%

Social justice

Inequality between areas: Some of the indicators of quality of life and access to social services listed above are avilable only for the district as a whole. However, where a breakdown does exist, it suggests significant variations in some indicators. The most noticeable observation is that the standard of living in Zone V is far lower than that elsewhere (see Box 3.4 for details).

Inequality between households within areas: There is very little available statistical information. However, data from the 1991 National Sample Agricultural Survey suggests the following variations:

(a) average area cultivated per household:








% h'holds







(b) average number of livestock units per household:

livestock units







% h 'holds







(c) average annual agricultural income per household:

income $







% h'holds







Informal observations by agricultural extension workers suggest that these figures are probably fairly representative of the district as a whole, excluding Zone V.

Gender relations: There is a traditional division of labour between men and women in relation to agricultural and other activities. This tends to discriminate against women (and girls), in that they have fewer opportunities to engage in income earning activities, do most of the household work are less likely to be involved in decision-making (especially outside the family) and (as the above statistics indicate) are likely to be less educated. However, practices vary considerably from one part of the district to another and from one household to another.

Participation in 'development': 76% of the eligible population voted in the 1990 general election and 53% in the 1991 District Council elections. The Council tends to be dominated by a small number of councillors and is divided along Party lines. There is only one woman councillor. Each village is required to have a village development committee (VDC) but in many villages the VDC conflicts with traditional leadership structures and in some it is little more than a vehicle for party politics. The Kurda people in Zone V have little or no influence on decision-making in the district (see Box 3.4 for details).

Sources of data

Reports of 1990 National Population Census

Report of 1991 National Sample Agricultural Survey

District records of Ministries of Education and Health

Reports of agricultural extension staff

General knowledge/observation

Note: NK$ 1 = US$ 0.25

Social development as a learning process

How does one achieve the kinds of positive change in social conditions which constitute 'social development'? There is no simple answer to this question, since it depends on the aspect of social development concerned. Most of the material in the rest of this chapter and subsequent chapters is concerned, directly or indirectly, with ways of achieving social development.

However, there is one very important general point which applies to all aspects of social development and thus warrants mention at this stage. This is the fact that social development should be seen not as a mechanistic operation but as a process which involves people and their modes of life. This has several implications in terms of the overall approach to social development programmes and projects - and, since social and economic development are interrelated, to other types of development activity too.

Firstly, it means that there is no one 'right' way of tackling any particular aspect of social development, since a great deal depends on the particular individuals or groups of people involved. One may be able to draw some general lessons from experiences elsewhere, but these must be adapted to suit the particular needs, priorities and aspirations of each case. Box 3.3 illustrates this point. It describes what happened when agricultural extension staff tried to introduce a 'model' development project in the two very different Gondwanaland villages of Muriwana and Wiriwana.

Secondly, it suggests that programmes and projects cannot be planned in a rigid 'blueprint' manner, since it is impossible to predict exactly what will happen once they get underway. There is therefore a need for a flexible approach to planning, in which progress is closely monitored and the original project design modified, extended or (if necessary) abandoned in the light of the experience gained. Box 3.3 also illustrates this point.

Thirdly, it means that the people who are affected by a project or programme must be involved in all stages of it, including the planning, implementation and monitoring. This is the only way that the essential 'human element' of the project or programme can be incorporated in it. It is also important that in such cases, the planners and extension workers regard the people as active and equal participants in the development process, not as passive 'objects' of development. The aim should be a team approach, in which both professionals and people learn from each other. Many of the problems of the development project described in Box 3.3 could have been avoided if this sort of participatory approach had been adopted.

Social scientists often use the terms 'social learning' or 'learning process' to describe the individually-tailored, flexible, participatory approach to planning described above. Chapter 9 will describe in more detail how to adopt such an approach.

BOX 3.3


The project

In 1989 the research division of the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources developed a new variety of cabbage suitable for cultivation by simple irrigation in Zone III of Gondwanaland District. It was therefore decided to establish a model irrigated vegetable garden, devoted entirely or primarily to cabbages, in each ward of the Zone. The gardens were supposed to be run on a cooperative basis by village development committees (VDCs) and the cabbages were intended primarily for sale. The Gondwanaland District Development Committee agreed that funds for the project would be provided from the district's Rural Development Fund.

Experience with the project varied very much from one ward to another. The experience in Muriwana and Wiriwana villages illustrates this.

Experience in Muriwana

The agricultural extension officer responsible for the Muriwana garden had great difficulty getting the project off the ground. Few people in the village were interested in agricultural projects, the VDC did not have the support of the majority of villagers and it was difficult to get land for a communal project because most of the land is individually owned. Eventually it was agreed to use land belonging to one of the three clan leaders, who was the owner of the village store and one of the wealthiest people in the village. Membership of the project was limited to members of his clan and, although it began on a cooperative basis, it was gradually taken over by the storekeeper, who sold the cabbages in his store to both local residents and travellers along the Gondwana-Hilltop road. It thus became a very successful business but not quite the sort of project envisaged by the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Experience in Wiriwana

In Wiriwana the people were enthousiastic about the project from the start. They were in need of a source of cash income and, because of the lack of alternative income-earning opportunities and the influence of the Catholic Mission (which had been running an adult literacy project with a strong agricultural focus in the village for several years), they were keen to try a new agricultural venture. The VDC was active and represented the majority of the village and there was no problem getting land because most of it was communally owned. However, the first year's experience was disappointing because it was not possible to transport the cabbages to a market and so many rotted. The VDC therefore decided to change the focus of the project. The next year a wider variety of vegetables was grown and these were used primarily for subsistence. The garden thus became a valuable source of food for the village, but it did not differ greatly from a traditional vegetable garden. Moreover, although most families benefited from it, there were a few of the poorest families who had been excluded from the start, partly because they could not afford the initial joining fee levied by the VDC and partly because they were female-headed households and thus lacked influence on the VDC.

3.3 The relationship between social and economic development

It was mentioned at the beginning of section 3.2 that it is necessary to consider both the social and the economic aspects of development. However, this raises important questions about the relationship between social and economic development. Are the two complementary, in the sense that social development leads to economic development, and vice versa? Or are they in conflict with each other, in which case one has to make choices - or 'tradeoffs' - between social and economic development?

Brief Historical Review

There has been much debate on this subject among academics and international aid agencies. In the 1950s the main emphasis was on economic growth. But by the mid-1960s, it was recognized that social issues must also be considered. It was, in particular, noted that improvements in health and education contribute to economic productivity, that social factors (eg. social structures, cultural practices, attitudes towards development) affect the success of economic development projects, and that national economic growth can increase the gap between rich and poor unless conscious measures are taken to prevent this happening. This led to a change in focus during the 1970s, resulting in an emphasis on meeting 'basic human needs' the provision of social services, participatory development approaches, and 'growth with equity' policies. This new focus was consistent with the ideologies of many 'developing' countries, especially those with a 'socialist' bias.

However, by the early 1980s them were signs of another change, due to the fact that many of these supposedly 'developing' countries were experiencing severe economic problems and were in many respects becoming less developed. There were many masons for these problems, but it was widely believed that one mason was that too much emphasis had been placed on social development, especially the provision of social services and attempts to reduce the gap between rich and poor by curbing private enterprise, at the expense of economic growth. The 1980s, therefore, were characterized by a renewed emphasis on economic growth, manifested in the form of free-market, 'monetarist' policies, advocated in particular by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) under the name of 'stabilization' and 'structural adjustment' programmes.

The early 1990s have witnessed a continuation of these policies, reinforced by the collapse of the centrally-planned socialist economies of the former 'eastern bloc' countries. However, them have been some subtle but significant changes.

In the first place, considerable concern has been expressed at both national and international levels about the impact of structural adjustment programmes on social development, especially the increase in poverty due to unemployment, inflation and the introduction of (or increase in) charges for social services. These problems were recognized by the IMF and World Bank during the 1980s, resulting in the incorporation of measures to ameliorate the worst of these effects into the structural adjustment 'package'. However, these measures were based on the assumption that such effects would be short-lived and that the long term impact of structural adjustment would be a induction of poverty. There is increasing evidence to suggest that, if or when the economic benefits of structural adjustment occur, they may do little to reduce poverty and will probably increase inequality. Because of these concerns, the World Bunk has launched a major initiative to try to tackle the problem of poverty, particularly - but not only - in Africa.

The other change has been an increase in concern about 'democracy' and human rights, which has been closely associated with the collapse of the former eastern bloc and the widespread disillusionment with 'socialist' ideologies. The most obvious implications of this are the moves from one-party to multi-party political systems and the increasing pressure (from within the countries concerned and outside) on governments which infringe basic human rights - for example, by restricting the press, detaining people without charge, and/or mistreating 'political' prisoners. In other words, a new dimension of 'social development' has begun to attract attention.

What does this brief historical review of the relative importance attached to the economic and social aspects of development tell us about the relationship between them? The main conclusion which can be drawn is that this relationship is very complex. There is no simple answer to the question posed at the beginning of this section: do social and economic development complement each other or conflict with each other? The answer depends on the aspects of social and economic development concerned and on the level (eg. national, regional or local; group or individual) at which the effect is felt. This will be demonstrated by looking at a few specific examples relevant to rural area development planning, all of which can be illustrated by the Gondwanaland vegetable garden project described in Box 3.3.

Example 1

Example 2

Example 3

Example 4

Example 5

Two main conclusions emerge from these five examples. The first is that the social and economic aspects of development are closely interrelated; hence the need for an integrated approach to planning at district - and other levels. The second conclusion is that the relationship between the two can be positive or negative, depending on the peculiarities of each case. The main implication of this is the need for planners and others involved in rural area development to have a good understanding of the local situation.

3.4 The politics of social development

Having looked in the last section at the relationship between economic development and social development, this section considers the role of politics in social development. The term 'politics' in used in a broad sense here to refer to anything related to the acquisition, exercise or distribution of power over resources by or between individuals, groups or organizations. It thus includes, for example: the politics of a local village community; the powers, functions and modes of operation of central and local governments, and of their constituent parts (eg. political parties, members of parliament, councillors, central and local government departments, individual officials); and international political relations.

Politics, when defined in this broad way, affects all aspects of life - and, therefore, all aspects of development. This section looks at three different (but related) dimensions of politics which are likely to be particularly important for those concerned with the social aspects of development in rural districts: the 'political economy' of rural development; the role of government in development; and ways of dealing with 'political interference'.

The political economy of rural development

One of the main concerns among those involved in the social aspects of rural development is the impact of politics on distributional issues - that is, who gains and who loses as a result of development efforts. There is a close relationship between political power and influence on the one hand and the level of economic and social wellbeing on the other. Moreover, the relationship is a circular one, in the sense that political power is a means of gaining access to economic and social benefits and these in turn enhance political status. Thus, the rich and powerful get richer and more powerful, while the poor find themselves trapped in a vicious circle of deprivation and powerlessness which drags them further and further down. This applies to rich and poor nations, to rich and poor regions within a nation, and to social groups and individuals within a region. The term 'political economy' is often used by social scientists to refer to this relationship between politics and (socio)economic development.

The example of the vegetable garden project in Gondwanaland (Box 3.3) illustrates the political economy of rural development at the local level. In Muriwana the storekeeper used his political and economic influence in the village to 'capture' the project for his own ends. And in Wiriwana the poorest families did not benefit from the project because they were both economically and politically weak, in that they lacked the financial resources needed to participate and they were headed by women and so lacked influence in the community.

Box 3.4 illustrates a similar situation at district level. It describes the problems faced by the minority Kurda people who inhabit the western part of Gondwanaland District. The Kurda are trapped in a vicious circle of poverty, isolation, powerlessness and neglect which has been going on for centuries. They are regarded as 'second class citizens' by the other ethnic groups in New Kolonia and they have very little political influence at district level and none at national level. Consequently, they have benefited very little from development efforts and so remain poor, physically isolated and deprived of basic services such as health and education.

BOX 3.4


Historical background

The Hurda and a number of other small minority groups are ethnically and linguistically very different from the Gonds and Wana. They were the original inhabitants of much of New Kolonia but they were gradually driven by the Gonds and Wana into the most inhospitable areas in the central part of the country. There are now only about 50,000 Hurda left, most of whom live in the semi-arid area of western Gondwanaland and parts of the neighbouring two districts.

Current development status

There were about 24,000 Hurda in Gondwanaland at the time of the 1990 Census. There had been a significant decline in their numbers since 1980 (when the last census had been taken), due apparently to low fertility, high mortality and a small but significant migration out of the area, especially among young people.

They are a primarily nomadic, pastoral people, although shortage of grazing and government pressure has forced many of them to establish semi-permanent settlements and grow a few crops. Their standard of living is much lower than the district average (compare Box 3.2). For example, the infant mortality rate in 1990 was 110 (compared with an average of 68), it is estimated that 25-30% of children are chronically malnourished (average 9%), the adult literacy rate is 25% for males and 17% for females (average 62% and 53% respectively), cash income is negligible, and assets such as vehicles, bicycles, ploughs and radios are virtually non-existent. Their only wealth is livestock which are sold to meet basic cash needs. The average household has about 50 livestock units. Their access to social services is also well below the district average. For example, there are only two primary schools in the area, which are attended by only 40% of the boys and 33% of the girls (compared to an average of 89% and 78% respectively) and there is no secondary school. There is only one clinic and very few improved water supplies.

The problem of development

There is much debate in New Kolonia about the reasons for the lack of development among the Kurda There are two main schools of thought. One argues that the Kurda are bound by tradition and resist any attempt at development from outside. The other suggests that the main problem is that the Kurda have no effective political representation and are discriminated against by other ethnic groups, who regard them as inferior. There is probably some truth in both arguments, but recent experience suggests that the second reason if probably the most important. The Hurda are trapped in a vicious circle of powerlessness, vulnerability, poverty and isolation.

There are only three Hurda councillors out of a total of 44 and, since they are illiterate and speak a different language, they play little if any part in Council meetings. And they have no representation at national level because they are only a small part of the Gondwanaland West electorate, which is dominated by the Wana Moreover, most attempts by central government or Council staff and by non-government organizations (NGOs), to channel resources to the Hurda are blocked by local or national politicians who want to capture the resources for their areas.

One example of this was a proposal made in 1988 by a foreign-based NGO called World Development International to establish an integrated rural development project in Zone V. When the project was discussed in the District Council, both the Gond and Wana factions in the Council, supported by their respective members of parliament, campaigned to have it in their own areas instead of Zone V. Moreover, the project was also opposed by another NGO, a religious organization called Save the People, which had been operating albeit with very kale success in terms of either religious conversions or sustained development activities - among the Hurda for several years. The end result was that World Development International established the project in another district, in an area with similar problems of drought and poverty but peopled by Gonds and represented by an influential MP.

The challenge to those concerned with rural social development in such situations is to find ways of breaking the vicious circle of poverty and powerlessness. This is not easy, because it means counteracting basic political forces, over which the rural development planner usually has little or no control. Possible ways of tackling this problem are considered in chapter 8, which is concerned specifically with planning for the disadvantaged.

The role of government in development

In the 1960s and early 1970s, when many 'less developed' countries had recently gained political independence, a great deal of emphasis was placed on the role of government in development. It was widely assumed that these newly independent governments would be both able and willing to promote development, and to ensure that such development was reasonably equally distributed. This assumption was used (as in the 'socialist' countries of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe) to justify the establishment of one party rule, the adoption of a centralized national planning system, and the nationalization of a large part of the productive sector.

However, as time went on, experience began to suggest that this assumption must be questioned. It became increasingly evident that most, if not all, governments lacked the financial resources, the management capacity and particularly important in this context - the 'political will' to fulfill such a role effectively. The term 'political will' needs some explanation here, since it is a commonly used but rather misleading expression. It is misleading because it gives the impression that governments are homogeneous entities which consciously decide whether or not to adopt policies which would benefit the majority of the population rather than themselves; a government which decides not to adopt such policies is one which lacks the necessary political will. In reality, however, most governments operate very differently. They are composed of many different individuals and interest groups, each with its own priorities and interests and with varying degrees of influence in the process of decision-making. Most policy decisions are, therefore, the outcome of these various and often conflicting interests rather than conscious or unanimous decisions, and 'lack of political will' to adopt a particular policy means that the policy does not have the support of the majority (or the most powerful) of those involved in the decision-making process.

This realization of the limitations of government has resulted in widespread moves, promoted in particular by organizations such as the IMF and World Bank, to reduce the role of governments in general, and central governments in particular. Since the mid-1980s there has, therefore, been a great deal of pressure on governments to hand over many of their responsibilities to local governments, non-government organizations (NGOs), people's organizations and, in particular, the private sector.

There are many advantages of such a move, since there are many reasons why it is undesirable for central governments to have a monopoly over power. However, it is important to remember that this will not 'de-politicize' the development process; it will merely change the relative importance of the various political actors and political channels. This is because the various organizations to whom responsibilities are being given are also political entities, albeit of a different sort. Thus, for example, local governments are in many respects miniature versions of central governments, while NGOs are seldom as apolitical or altruistic as their image suggests. This is well illustrated by the case of the Kurda people, described in Box 3.4. They have been neglected by the district council as well as by the central government and NGO development efforts in the area have been hampered by conflicts between competing NGOs and between NGOs and government. Similarly, community-based organizations are fraught with local political struggles - as the case of Muriwana village illustrates. And it is well known that unrestricted private sector development tends to increase rather than decrease the gap between rich and poor; in fact, one of the main justifications for government involvement in development in the first place was to curb this tendency.

From the social development point of view, it is therefore important not only to consider the relative importance of government in the development process but also to understand the overall political situation in any particular case. The most important questions to ask are who will gain and who will lose as a result of this political situation and, in particular, what effect will it have on the most disadvantaged sectors of the population?

Dealing with political interference

There is a tendency among civil servants and other development workers, and especially among planners, to regard 'politics' as an unnecessary and undesirable element which upsets their work and, in particular, makes it very difficult for them to utilize their professional or technical skills effectively. The term 'political interference' is frequently used to refer to such disruption. It is easy to understand why this view is so common. However, there are two major problems associated with it.

Firstly, the people who hold this view tend to use the word 'politics' in a much narrower sense than that adopted here, in most cases to refer only to the activities of national and local politicians. In so doing, they forget that the politicians are no more than the 'tip of the iceberg'. That is to say, they are merely the most obvious manifestation of the constant struggle for control over resources which goes on between all individuals, groups and organizations. They tend in particular to ignore the power struggles that exist within and between both government and non-government development agencies, and to forget that they themselves are not just disinterested professionals or technicians, but individuals with personal interests and ambitions. In other words, they themselves, and the organizations for which they work, are part of the 'problem' of 'politics'.

Secondly, this view implies that politics is something which can, and should, be eliminated. Those holding such a view tend to either ignore or resist the political implications of their work, insisting that their task is to do a 'proper' professional or technical job, not to mess around with, or pander to, political interests. Consequently, they are frequently disappointed and frustrated, and their efforts are often wasted, because their plans are upset by the 'political interference' of which they are so critical.

It would be much better if these development workers were to recognize that politics is an inevitable component of all development activities. If, instead of resisting or ignoring politics, they tried to incorporate political issues and interests into their plans, they would be less likely to be disappointed and their plans would stand a much better chance of implementation. This does not mean that they should go to the other extreme and ignore all professional or technical considerations, merely that they should take account of political factors, along with all the other things which have to be considered, and adapt their plans accordingly. The implications of this for district planning will be discussed further in Chapter 4.



Cernea, M. (ed), Putting People First, New York, Oxford University Press, for World Bank, 1985. Explains why it is necessary to consider the 'social' or 'human' aspects of development and suggests ways of doing so, including case studies from the fields of irrigation, agricultural settlement, livestock, fisheries, forestry, and rural roads.

Chambers, R., Rural Development: Putting the Last First, Harlow, Longman, 1983. Argues the case for seeing rural development from the point of view of rural people (and especially the rural poor) rather than that of professionals, including the need for a 'learning process' approach. Simply and persuasively written, with many examples.

Clay, E.J. & B.B. Schaffer (eds), Room for Manoeuvre: an Exploration of Public Policy in Agriculture and Rural Development, London, Heinemann, 1984. Uses case studies to illustrate ways of incorporating political factors into agricultural policies and projects, by seeking and utilising the 'room for manoeuvre'.

Cornia, A., R. Jolly & F. Stewart (eds), Adjustment with a Human Face, Oxford, Clarendon Press, for UNICEF, 1987. Reviews the social impact of structural adjustment programmes from 1980 to 1986, focusing in particular on the impact on children. Concludes that they have had negative effects but that these could be avoided if certain changes were made in adjustment policies.

FAO, Structural Adjustment Programmes in Sub-Saharan Africa, Training Materials for Agricultural Planning no. 15, Rome, 1989. Review of the impact of structural adjustment programmes on the agriculture sector and implications for agricultural policy. Emphasizes the complexity of the relationship between structural adjustment and agriculture and thus the need for detailed analysis.

FAO, Guidelines for Monitoring the Impact of Structural Adjustment Programmes on the Agricultural Sector, FAO Economic and Social Development Paper 95, Rome, 1990. Outlines the main characteristics of structural adjustment programmer, explains the most likely ways in which they will affect the agriculture sector, and suggests methods of monitoring these effects. Also emphasizes the complexity of the relationship and thus the problems of monitoring.

FAO, Agricultural Price Policy: Government and the Market, Training Materials for Agricultural Planning no 31, Rome, 1992. Provides a general presentation on the functioning of markets and government institutions in view of the analysis of agricultural policies. Publication to be used as supporting text in price policy courses.

Hilhorst, J. & M. Klatter (eds), Social Development in the Third World, London, Croom Helm, 1985. Useful collection of material on social indicators, including an introductory overview and bibliography. Also two chapters (7,9) on the relationship between social and economic development.

International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), The State of World Rural Poverty: An Inquiry into its Causes and Consequences, New York, University Press, 1992. A study covering 114 countries. It demonstrates that the rural poor, as small-scale producers, make a major contribution to the production and accumulation of capital in developing countries. It indicates the means by which their further growth potential can be realised.

World Bank (with African Development Bank & UNDP), The Social Dimensions of Adjustment in Africa: A Policy Agenda, Washington DC, 1990. Outlines the need for, and main components of, the Bank's policies to ameliorate the undesirable social effects of adjustment programmes.

World Bank, Poverty, World Development Report 1990, New York, Oxford University Press, for World Bank, 1990. Reviews the incidence and causes of poverty in the world and strategies for poverty reduction. Includes statistical indicators of poverty and the Bank's usual annual summary of World Development Indicators.

World Bank, Poverty Reduction Handbook, Washington DC, 1992. Operational Directive on the need to give more attention to poverty issues in Bank policies and programmes, together with detailed guidelines on how to do so. Intended primarily for Bank staff.

Chapter 4 The social dimensions of rural area planning

This chapter begins by looking briefly at the origins and history of 'social planning' as a distinct kind of planning activity. It then looks in more detail at the social aspects of planning in rural areas, including the relationship between social planning and other types of planning at this level, the specific activities included under the heading of 'social planning', and the problems likely to be encountered.

4.1 The concept of social planning

Chapter 3 (section 3.3) described how it was gradually realized in the 1960s that one must consider the social as well as the economic aspects of development. This realization led to efforts to improve the social aspects of development planning - and to the emergence of a special type or branch of planning activity known as 'social planning'. The existence of social planning is reflected in various ways. For example, many national planning agencies have a separate section responsible for 'social planning', interdisciplinary planning teams frequently include a 'social planner', and the terms of reference for project feasibility studies usually include an assessment of the 'social impact' of the project. Similarly, it is possible to take courses in 'social planning' and there are various books and articles on the subject.

However, although 'social planning' is widely recognized as a specific kind of planning, the term is used in various different ways and may cover a fairly wide range of activities. This is hardly surprising since, as indicated in previous chapters, the terms 'social' and 'social development' are themselves vague. The term 'social planning' may be used to cover any or all of the following activities:

The amount of attention given to social planning in any particular planning situation varies considerably, depending on a number of factors, including the relative importance of social objectives in whatever is being planned, the amount of 'trade-off' between social and other (eg. economic) objectives, the extent to which those involved in the planning are aware of the possible social implications, and the resources available (including finance, skilled manpower and time) to undertake the necessary social analysis. This can be demonstrated by looking at the role of social planning in two different types of planning situation, one in which the main objectives are social and the other where social objectives are only of secondary importance.

Example 1

Example 2

The example of the vegetable garden project in Gondwanaland, described in Chapter 3 (Box 3.3), illustrates the role of social planning in such situations. In this case, many of the problems which the project encountered in both villages could have been avoided - or at least anticipated - if those involved in planning the project had been aware of the possible social implications and had undertaken the necessary social analysis.

It is obvious from these two examples that, although social planning is important, it cannot be considered in isolation from other types of planning activity. The relative importance attached to the social aspects of planning and to the various other dimensions - may vary, but in any planning situation an integrated approach is needed. In other words, all relevant factors (social, economic, environmental, political, etc.) must be taken into consideration and the inter-relationships between them must be understood.

4.2 The role of social planning at area level

Although there is a need for social planning at all levels, it is particularly important at area (or district) level. There are three main reasons for this.

Firstly, as indicated in Chapter 3 (section 3.1), social characteristics vary greatly from one area to another, and even from one community to another. Social planning therefore requires a detailed knowledge of the areas or communities which will be affected by the plan and this knowledge is usually difficult to get at higher levels. The district is often an appropriate level to obtain such information and incorporate it into the detailed project or programme design, because staff at district level generally have a reasonably good knowledge of local conditions and, if the information needed is not immediately available, they can usually find ways of obtaining it relatively easily.

Secondly, this is the level at which most projects and programmes are implemented, and therefore the level at which implementation problems are first noticed. It is therefore in the interests of those at district level to ensure that the various social factors which may affect the success of the project are taken into consideration at the planning stage, in order to avoid as many problems as possible.

Thirdly, social planning frequently involves - and is sometimes more or less synonymous with - participatory planning, in that one of the most effective ways of obtaining information on social issues is to involve the people concerned in the planning process. And the district is an appropriate level at which to initiate a participatory approach to planning, because (as indicated in Chapter 1) it is the level where there is most likely to be some sort of representative local government and where the activities of extension workers (who have direct contact with the people) are coordinated.

However, it is not always easy to introduce social planning at area or district level, because the planning process as a whole is seldom well developed at this level. In some cases this is because most decisions are made at higher levels (more often than not at the national level), so there is little scope for effective planning at district level. People at district level often see the need for social planning because they have to implement plans which have not given adequate attention to social factors, but they can do little about it because they are not the ones responsible for planning. In other cases the main problem is lack of resources for planning in general, and social planning in particular. Ideally a district should have its own multidisciplinary planning team, which would include a social planner, and a budgetary allocation specifically for planning purposes. In reality, however, many countries have no full-time planning staff at district level and no or very limited district planning budget. Where district planners do exist, their knowledge of planning skills is often fairly rudimentary and, since there is usually only one planner per district, they are responsible for all aspects of planning and so the social dimension is easily neglected.

It is, therefore, necessary to adopt a pragmatic approach to social planning at district level. The basic elements of such an approach are as follows:

Box 4.1 describes how district staff in Gondwanaland recognised the need for social planning, partly as a result of the problems encountered with the vegetable garden project described in Chapter 3, and the steps they took to introduce a social dimension into the district planning system.

BOX 4.1


The District Agricultural Officer (DAO) of Gondwanaland was concerned about the problems experienced with the vegetable garden project in Zone III (see Box 3.3). He had learned that it is not possible to impose a 'model' project on to a community without any form of modification or adaptation. The details of each project must be designed to 'fit' the particular needs and conditions of the community where it will be implemented. Since this was not the first time that such problems had occured with agricultural projects in the district, especially those run on a cooperative basis, he decided to do something about it.

The DAO discussed his concerns with the District Cooperatives Officer (DCO), who admitted that he was facing similar problems in trying to establish other kinds of cooperatives in the district. They decided to raise the matter at the next meeting of the District Development Committee (DDC). A lively debate resulted, since many DDC members had experienced such problems in implementing projects supported by the Rural Development Fund (RDF). The District Community Development and Social Welfare Officer (DCDSWO) made a major contribution to the debate. She explained the need to see development projects from the people's point of view and told members about some successful community-based projects which her ministry had helped to establish.

The following decisions were therefore made at the meeting:

    · A Social Development Sub-Committee of the DDC would be established, consisting of the DCDSWO (as chairperson), the DAO, the DCO and representatives from the District Secretary's Office and the Gondwanaland District Council. The role of the sub-committee would be to ensure that the social aspects of all prospective RDF projects were considered before they were forwarded to the DDC for approval and to advise individual ministries on social development issues.

    · The Social Development Sub-Committee should draw up a checklist questions about social issues which would form the basis for assessing the social aspects of RDF projects. All applications for RDF funding must include, in addition to the information already required, answers to tiers checklist of questions.

    · No RDF project would be approved without adequate consultation with councillors and Village Development Committees. Evidence of such consultation should be included in the project applications.

By making these decisions, the DDC had in effect established a simple system of social planning in the District.

4.3 Methods of social analysis for area planning

It is obvious from section 4.2 that social planning involves a wide range of activities. Since all of these have a role to play at area or district level, it is necessary for those involved in planning at this level to have some knowledge of the various analytical methods required to undertake any or all of these types of social planning activity. These various analytical methods may collectively be refered to as methods of social analysis.

There are many different ways of classifiying methods of social analysis. However, for the purposes of these Guidelines they may be divided into five main types:

The five chapters in Part III of these Guidelines are devoted to each of these five methodological types.

4.4 Problems of social planning at area level

In conclusion, brief mention should be made of some of the problems likely to be encountered in social planning at area or district level. This is not intended to discourage those involved, merely to warn them of some of the pitfalls which they will almost inevitably have to face. Most of these problems have already been mentioned in this chapter or in Chapter 3, but it is nevertheless useful to list them all together at this point.


As indicated in section 4.2, the scope for planning in general at area or district level is limited by the extent to which the power to make decisions about rural development in the area is decentralized to this level. If all significant decisions, including policy decisions and those regarding the allocation of the resources needed to implement the policies, are made at a higher level, there is no point in embarking upon ambitious planning activities because this will merely lead to frustration when the plans are not implemented. In such cases, planning must be confined to, on the one hand, trying to influence the decisions which are made at a higher level, and on the other hand, planning the detailed implementation of these decisions when they have been made. In other words, planners at district level should focus their attention on issues or activities where they have some chance of having an effect, rather than waste their efforts on producing 'pipe-dream' plans which no-one will take seriously. And this applies to social planning as much as to any other kind of planning activity.

Trade-offs between economic and social development

The complex relationship between economic and social development was discussed in some depth in Chapter 3 (section 3.3). It should be apparent from this discussion that, although economic and social objectives are often complementary, this is not always the case, and so it is sometimes necessary to make choices or 'trade-offs' between them. This is one of the main problems facing social planners at any level. Despite the fact that the importance of social planning is now widely recognized, it is not easy to convince decision-makers to give higher priority to social objectives than economic objectives, especially in situations where financial resources are scarce and there is an urgent need to increase economic production. For example, it is difficult in such circumstances to argue the case for allocating resources to social services rather than to directly productive activities, or for foregoing a project which would result in substantial economic gains because it would have undesirable social effects.

The politics of social planning

Chapter 3 also emphasized (in section 3.4) the role of politics in social development. Planning is inevitably a political process, in that all those involved - whether they be planners, decision-makers, implementers or beneficiaries - have interests in the outcome of the plan and will try to influence the planning process in order to further these interests. In many cases, these interests may be concerned purely with personal gain, resulting in the risk of plans being 'highjacked' by individuals or groups who were not intended to benefit from them. In other cases, the interests may be less directly or obviously related to personal gain. For example, those involved may be concerned to promote the role of their particular organization (such as a government department or NGO) or merely their particular 'philosophy' of development. But whatever the case, the social planner will inevitably find that there are other individuals or groups of people whose views about what is being planned differ from his (or her) own (and from each other's) and that the outcome will depend on the relative influence which each is able to exert in the decision-making process. As indicated in section 3.4, it is recommended that planners accept this fact and plan accordingly, rather than pretend that planning can or should be apolitical.

Problems of participatory planning

The need for a participatory approach to social planning has already been stressed on several occasions. However, it is not easy to plan in a participatory way. Participatory planning means that decisions are made by the planners and the beneficiaries together, through a process of dialogue in which all those involved express their needs and views. This almost inevitably requires more time and resources than a more authoritarian or 'top-down' approach, and it requires planners or extension workers with special skills and attitudes. Moreover, sometimes agreement cannot be reached and so the plan cannot go ahead. In many cases, therefore, planners know that they should adopt a participatory approach but fail to do so because of lack of time, resources or aptitude, or because of pressure from politicians, central government officials or donors who want a decision quickly. In such cases, the short-run benefits in terms of savings in time and resources are likely to be outweighed in the long run by the problems of trying to implement a project which does not have the support or understanding of the beneficiaries. But it is only too easy to ignore or forget that risk at the planning stage.

Resource constraints

Lack of resources for district planning in general, and social planning in particular, has already been mentioned as a problem in section 4.2 - and by implication in the discussion on participatory planning under 4. above. Since few if any districts have the luxury of a full-time, qualified social planner, the social aspects of planning must be undertaken either by a generalist planner or by someone who has some knowledge of the relevant social issues but is not a professional planner. This has two major implications: planning methods must be kept as simple as possible and (as suggested in section 4.2) all those likely to be involved should be given some elementary training in social planning.

Data constraints

Inadequate data is always a problem in planning; the data one needs is seldom already available, at least in the form required, and there is never enough time, money or manpower to collect it all oneself. However, as indicated in Chapter 3 (section 3.2), both district planning and social planning are likely to encounter particularly serious data problems. In the case of district planning, the main problem is that the data needed is often available but not in a form suitable for use at district level because it has been collected for national planning purposes. And in the case of social planning, the problem is that much of the data is qualitative rather than quantitative in nature and thus difficult both to collect and to analyze in a manner which enables definitive conclusions to be drawn and comparisons (especially with economic data) to be made.

All these problems are taken into account in Part III of the Guidelines, which looks at specific methods of social analysis. For example, priority is given to simple methods, which do not require excessive amounts of time or resources and can be practiced by people with no professional social planning training. And where problems are likely to occur (for example, when choosing between economic and social objectives or adopting a participatory planning approach) ways of tackling them or minimizing their effects are suggested. In other words, the approach adopted is pragmatic rather than idealistic, in line with the recommendation made in section 4.2.



Apthorpe, R. (ed), People, Planning and Development Studies, London, Frank Cass, 1970. Collection of essays and case studies on the need for, and role of, social planning, written at the time that the importance of social issues was first recognized.

Blair, H. & D. Conyers (eds), 'Local social development planning', Regional Development Dialogue (Journal of the United Nations Centre for Regional Development, Nagoya, Japan), vol. 7, no. 1, Spring 1986. Collection of papers presented at a workshop on the role and methods of social planning at local level, as part of a wider programme of research and training on local social development planning; includes four methodological chapters, four country case studies and a comparative study.

Conyers, D., An Introduction to Social Planning in the Third World, Chichester, Wiley, 1982. Reviews the origins, history and scope of social planning and provides an introduction to its organization and methods.

Midgley, J. & D. Piachaud (eds), The Fields and Methods of Social Planning, London, Heinemann, 1984. Collection of essays on the various dimensions of social planning, the role of the social planner and social planning methods; not specifically related to developing countries.

United Nations Centre for Regional Development, Local Social Development Planning: Training Modules, Nagoya, Japan, 1988, 2 volumes. Comprehensive guidelines on methods of social planning at local (ie. community) level; covers most of the topics in these Guidelines, but focusing on the local rather than district level. Intended for trainers; but consists of guidelines rather than a detailed manual and thus also of more general value.

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