Previous PageTable Of Contents

Part III. Methods of social analysis

Part III. Methods of social analysis

Chapter 5 Collecting and using social data

This chapter is concerned with the collection and use of data for social planning purposes. The first two sections look at why data is needed and how to identify the kind of data needed for a particular planning purpose. The last two sections then examine methods of collecting and using the two main types of data: primary and secondary.

5.1 The need for data

Data is a basic requirement for any form of planning, since planning involves making calculated decisions and such decisions must be based on adequate and appropriate information, or 'data'. Data is needed at all stages of the planning process, including the initial identification of a problem or objective, the identification and appraisal of alternative policies, programmes or projects, monitoring the implementation process, and finally the evaluation of the impact of the plan.

Social planning is no exception in this respect. However, both the type of data needed and the problems involved in collecting and using it vary from one type of planning to another. This chapter is therefore concerned with what might be called 'social' data -in other words, the sort of data needed specifically for the social aspects of planning -and in particular with the kind of social data needed for rural area planning.

5.2 Identifying data needs

One of the most fundamental but difficult tasks in any form of planning is to decide what data to collect. If this is not done before data collection starts, a great deal of time is wasted collecting data which is never used, and some essential data is inevitably ignored. This section looks briefly at a number of questions regarding the quantity, quality, type, form and source of data which it is necessary to ask before starting to collect data.

How much data?

The first step in determining how much data to collect is to consider exactly what data one needs in order to achieve the particular objective of the planning exercise. In other words, one should not just go out and collect all the data which may be vaguely relevant. However, it is never possible to obtain as much data as one would ideally like, especially at district level, where the resources for collecting and analyzing data are generally severely limited. It is therefore necessary to reconcile the amount of data one would like to have with what it is actually practical to obtain. The aim should be to collect the minimum amount of information needed to achieve the particular objective. And if there is any serious gap in information, one should be aware of any limitations this may have in terms of the accuracy or comprehensiveness of the decisions made.

This is particularly important in the case of social data, some of which is very difficult to collect quickly and cheaply. For example, one must have information on the social structure of a village in order to plan an agricultural project for the village. The implications of not doing so were demonstrated by the example of the vegetable garden project in Gondwanaland, described in Box 3.3. However, this does not mean that one needs to know everything there is about the village. Moreover, there are several different ways of obtaining the information required, some of which require more resources than others. This point will be discussed later.

What subject matter should be included?

Social data for rural area planning includes data on any aspect of the area defined as 'social' in Chapter 1. It thus includes information on the various 'social characteristics' of the area (eg. demography, ethno-linguistic characteristics, social structure, inheritance systems, religious and cultural beliefs and practices, and individual or group attitudes), the general quality of life, the quantity and quality of social services, and social justice.

However, in order to determine what kind of data should be obtained for any particular planning exercise, it is again necessary to consider the objective of the exercise. In some cases there is a need for an overview of all social aspects, as for example when one wishes to assess the general level of social development in the area. Box 3.2, which provides a list of 'social indicators' for Gondwanaland District, illustrates the kind of subject matter which might be included in such a case. Since this example will be used to illustrate various points in this chapter, it has been reproduced here as Box 5.1. However, in many cases there is a more specific need for data on selected social characteristics or issues relevant to the particular planning exercise.

Quantitative or qualitative data?

Quantitative data is data which can be expressed in numerical form, while qualitative data is expressed in the form of verbal descriptions rather than numbers. In Box 5.1, for example, all the data on quality of life and social services is quantitative while that on social justice is a mixture of quantitative and qualitative data.

BOX 5.1



Quality of life


Infant mortality (per 1000 live births) 1990:


Average proportion of children under 5 years attending clinics who were malnourised in 1992:


Adult literacy 1990: male: 62%; female:


Average land cultivated per household 1991:

1.9 hectares

Average number of livestock units owned per household 1991:


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:


Proportion of population within 10 kms. of secondary school 1992:


Average class size 1992: primary: 38; secondary:


Proportion of population within 10 kms. of clinic 1992:


Proportion of population served by mobile MCH clinic 1992:


Population per doctor 1992:

approx. 111,000

Population per hospital bed 1992:


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 available 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


1-5 6-10





% h'holds







(c) average annual agricultural income per household:

income $







% h'holds







Informal observations by agricultural extension workers suggest that these I 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 lime 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

It is sometimes assumed that social data is more likely to be qualitative in form than other kinds of data, particularly economic data. There is some truth in this assumption, in that social data is more likely to include information which is best expressed in qualitative rather than quantitative form. However, in most cases, the best way to present a clear picture of an issue or situation, whether it be economic or social, is through a combination of quantitative and qualitative data.

However, this does not mean that the two kinds of data are interchangeable, since each has its advantages and disadvantages. When choosing whether to collect quantitative or qualitative data, there are four main factors which need to be considered:

How objective should the data be?

A distinction is often made between objective data, which is independent of the attitudes or prejudices of the people involved in collecting or providing the information (eg. the interviewers or interviewees), and subjective data, which is influenced by such attitudes or prejudices. In practice, however, data is very seldom totally objective, because those involved almost inevitably influence the data collection exercise in some way or other. In fact, the initial process of deciding what data to collect and what not to collect immediately introduces an element of bias into the exercise. For example, the social indicators in Box 5.1 give a picture of social development in Gondwanaland which is biased in favour of, firstly, those aspects of social development which the planners (as opposed, say, to the general population) think are most important and, secondly, those aspects for which data is available. In reality, therefore, it is not a question of whether the data is objective or subjective but of the degree of objectivity.

There is a tendency to assume that qualitative data is less objective than quantitative data. However, although this is often the case, it is not necessarily true. There is plenty of room for subjectivity in the collection of quantitative data, especially if some sort of survey is involved, since the data will be influenced by the prejudices and errors of the people collecting and providing the information. For example, since much of the quantitative data in Box 5.1 was obtained from the reports of the 1990 Population Census and the 1991 Sample Agricultural Survey, its objectivity is dependent on the honesty with which interviewees answered questions, the diligence and integrity of the interviewers and, in the case of the Sample Survey, the way in which households were selected. In other words, quantitative data may look more objective, because it is expressed in numerical form, but in fact its objectivity depends on the way in which it is collected and analyzed.

Similarly, there is a tendency to assume that objective data is 'better' than subjective data, because it is not 'distorted' by human bias or prejudice. Once again this is an assumption which is often but not necessarily true. A great deal depends on the purpose for which the data is required and how it is used. In some cases, particularly when the main purpose is to gain an understanding of people's attitudes and behaviour, one is actually looking for data which reflects the biases and prejudices of the interviewees. Moreover, even when this is not the case, it is generally better to use qualitative data which is known to be subjective than quantitative data which appears to be objective but in actual fact is not. In such cases, the important point is to be aware of the limitations of the data one is using and, therefore, any decisions one may make on the basis thereof. The implications of this in terms of the accuracy of data will be considered later.

How should the data be disaggregated?

Data can be broken down, or disaggregated, in various ways, and before starting to collect data it is necessary to consider how it should be disaggregated, since this will affect the form in which it is collected. The two main ways in which social data for rural area planning are likely to be disaggregated are on the basis of geographical area and social group.

Disaggregation of data on the basis of geographical area is used to distinguish and compare the characteristics of particular geographical areas. For example, most of the data in Box 5.1 relates to Gondwanaland District as a whole, and is thus useful for indicating the level of social development in the district as a whole and comparing it with other districts. However, for most district planning purposes it is necessary to distinguish between different parts of the district, either to prioritize areas on the basis of need or potential or to focus on a particular part of the district where, for example, a particular project is being planned. A preliminary indication of the degree of geographical variation within Gondwanaland is given in the section on 'inequality between areas' in Box 5.1, while the information on Muriwana and Wiriwana villages in Box 3.1 (Chapter 3) is an example of data related to specific parts of a district - in this case, two villages.

Disaggregation of data on the basis of social groups is used to identify variations or inequalities between social groups or to focus attention on any particular group. This is particularly important in social planning, since one of its objectives is to reduce inequalities between social groups. The sections on 'inequality between households' and 'gender relations' in Box 5.1 give some indication of the type of data needed for such purposes - and the difficulty of obtaining such data. This will be discussed further in Chapter 8, which focuses specifically on planning for disadvantaged social groups.

When should data be collected?

Data may be collected at various times, depending on the type of data and the purpose for which it is required. There are three main possibilities: a 'one-off' approach, a 'time series' approach, and a 'before and after' approach.

The 'one-off, approach is one where data is collected and presented for one particular point in time only, as in the case of most of the indicators in Box 5.1. This is sufficient if one only needs to know about the present situation or if, as in Box 5.1, one wants a 'snapshot' of the situation, possibly to make a comparison with other situations. For example, the data in Box 5.1 could be used to compare the level of social development in Gondwanaland with that in other districts at the same point in time.

The 'time series' approach involves collecting data at regular intervals over a predetermined period of time. Much of the data in Box 5.1 is, in fact, extracted from time series data, although the intervals vary considerably. For example, population censuses are usually conducted every ten years, while health and education statistics are usually compiled on an annual basis. Time series data is necessary if one needs to know about historical trends or if there is likely to be considerable variation over time and so a 'one-off' survey could be misleading.

The 'before and after' approach involves two major data collection exercises: one before an anticipated change or event and one afterwards. This approach is usually used to evaluate the impact of a particular policy, programme or project. It is obviously important to plan such an evaluation before implementation starts, so that one can undertake the 'before' study. In many cases, planners do not think about evaluation until implementation is complete, by which time one can only do an 'after' study. This kind of data collection will be considered further in Chapter 7, which focuses on project appraisal and evaluation.

How accurate should data be?

The question of accuracy has already been touched upon on a number of occasions, since one of the main concerns when addressing all the earlier questions is to ensure that the information obtained is as accurate as possible At this point, therefore, it is merely necessary to make a few general comments about the degree of accuracy necessary. The situation is similar to that of the quantity of data, in that the information one is able to obtain is seldom as accurate as one would wish. The aim, therefore, should be to achieve the minimum degree of accuracy necessary for the particular purpose concerned and to be aware of any possible inaccuracies in the data which may affect the validity of the conclusions reached or decisions made.

There is a tendency, particularly among economists, to assume that social data is less accurate than other kinds of data, including economic data, because it is more likely to be qualitative and/or subjective in nature. However, there are two major flaws in this argument. Firstly, as already indicated, social data can and should include both quantitative and qualitative data and data with varying degrees of objectivity, depending on the type of data and the purpose for which it is required. Secondly, data which is qualitative and subjective is not necessarily less accurate, since accuracy depends not on the type of data but on the way in which it is collected and analyzed. As already indicated, there is plenty of room for error in the collection and analysis of quantitative data. Furthermore, since such errors are difficult to identify, especially when the data is presented in its final form, there is a very real risk that conclusions will be reached or decisions made on the assumption that the data is accurate when in fact it is not.

Primary or secondary data?

Data can be obtained from many different sources. However, it is conventional - and useful for the present purpose - to divide these into two main categories: primary and secondary. Primary data is data which is collected for the particular planning purpose in question, while secondary data is that which has already been collected (either for a previous planning exercise or as part of a general data collection programme) and is merely utilized for the present planning purpose.

In any form of planning, it is advisable to assess the availability of secondary data before embarking upon a primary data collection exercise, since the latter is expensive in terms of time, money and manpower. This is particularly true at district level, where such resources tend to be particularly scarce. However, if the necessary secondary data is not available, or not available in an appropriate form, or if it would take longer to explore the secondary data possibilities than to go out and collect the data oneself, it is necessary to plan a primary data collection programme. In practice, most planning activities tend to utilize a combination of primary and secondary data.

The last two sections of this chapter examine in some depth the collection and use of these two types of data, beginning with secondary data, since (as already indicated) it is advisable to utilize any available secondary data before starting to collect primary data.

5.3 The collection and use of secondary data

Secondary data may take many forms and its quality and value for rural area planning varies greatly. In some countries, districts are encouraged to maintain a 'store' of basic secondary data about the district which can be used as and when needed for planning purposes. In order to be effective, such a store should be kept in a central place, such as a planning office or conference room, and it should be up-dated regularly. In many countries, no such store exists and it is therefore necessary to collect the secondary data individually for each planning exercise. However, in such cases, it is advisable for those involved in planning on a regular basis to familiarize themselves with the kinds of secondary data available so that they know where to go when the need arises.

This section of the chapter looks at five different types of secondary data, all of which are likely to be needed for the social aspects of rural area planning and are relatively easily available at district level. They are: demographic data; sample agricultural household surveys; official government records; maps; and general knowledge. These are not the only types of secondary data which may be used, but they give some indication of the range of information available from secondary sources - and the problems likely to be encountered in collecting and using such data.

Demographic data

Demographic data is data on the size and structure of a population, including the total population, household size, distribution by age and sex, past and future rates of growth, fertility and mortality, migration and population density. This sort of information is frequently required for a variety of different planning purposes at district level. Sometimes the need is for aggregate data for the district as whole, sometimes for data disaggregated on the basis of administrative subdivision or social group, and sometimes for data just for one area or community.

It is difficult to get accurate demographic information without a detailed house-to-house survey, which is expensive in terms of time, money and manpower. Therefore, unless the information is needed only for a small area where it is feasible to undertake such a survey, it is normally necessary to rely on secondary data, although some 'short-cut' methods of collecting reasonably accurate data on a larger scale will be described in section 5.4.

The main secondary source of demographic data is national population censuses. These are normally undertaken (if political and economic circumstances permit) approximately every ten years, and in some countries the information is supplemented by one or more inter-censal sample surveys. In most cases, such censuses also include some other basic household data, such as occupations, education and access to services such as water and sanitation. In Box 5.1, for example, the data on infant mortality, household assets and access to water and sanitation was derived from national census data.

There are two main problems in using census data at district level. Firstly, the data is not always disaggregated on the same basis as that needed for district planning purposes. For example, census enumeration areas do not always correspond to local administrative units (such as villages or wards) and, although the data is broken down by sex and age, it is seldom available on the basis of any other social criteria, such as ethnic group or social class. And secondly, it is often not sufficiently up-to-date. It is usually several years before the full results of a population census are available to the public, by which time they are already somewhat out-of-date, and then there is a ten-year gap before the next census data becomes available. This presents particular problems in districts where the population is growing rapidly or unevenly, since it is difficult to make accurate projections on the basis of the information available.

It is not possible to look in detail at all aspects of demographic data here. However, Boxes 5.2 and 5.3 illustrate two possible applications of census data for planning purposes in Gondwanaland, both of which are likely to be fairly widely used in any district.

Box 5.2 presents the data on population density by ward used to compile Map 3 in Chapter 2. It includes the following information: the area and 1990 population of each ward, as recorded in the 1990 National Population Census; the estimated present (1993) population of each ward, which is calculated by multiplying by the average annual growth rate for the district as a whole over the previous ten-year period (which is available from the Census); and the population density, which is the 1993 population divided by the area. In this case, the exercise was relatively easy because the census data was disaggregated on the basis of wards, which are the main units of administration and planning in the district. Moreover, the population projections are inevitably approximate, because they do not make any allowance for changes in the average rate of population growth or for variations in the rate of growth from one part of the district to another.

BOX 5.2




POP'N 1990(1)

EST.POP'N 1993 (2)































































































































































































































15,132 (3)



29.4 (3)

(1) 1990 National Population Census

(2) 1990 Census figure + 3% per annum increase for 3 years

(3) Excludes forest reserve

Box 5.3 shows the population of Gondwanaland District as a whole subdivided by age and sex, based on the 1990 Census data. The data is presented in two forms: a table and a diagram known as a 'population pyramid'. It then shows how this data can be used to calculate the numbers of boys and girls of primary school age in 1993. This in turn can be used, together with educational statistics, to calculate the proportion of boys and girls in this age group who actually attend school, which is (as indicated in Box 5.1) an important social indicator. Similar calculations can be made to determine the number of males and/or females in other age categories (eg. secondary school age, economically active, dependent elderly).

Sample agricultural household surveys

In many countries sample agricultural household surveys are undertaken at regular intervals, by either the ministry responsible for agriculture or a national statistical agency, to produce basic data on the volume and methods of agricultural production. There are several different methods used for such surveys. However, in most cases households are selected from different agro-economic zones and information is collected over a full agricultural year, in order to obtain information on production methods. The information collected usually includes household size, area cultivated by different crops, inputs (including labour), yields, crop sales and income, and (although sometimes as a separate livestock survey) the number of livestock owned by type and the number sold.

BOX 5.3




































































































































Calculation of primary school age population 1993

Primary school age = 6-12 years inclusive

Children aged 6-12 years in 1993 were 3-9 years in 1990

Thus, potential primary school age population = all those aged 5-9

years and approx. 2/5 of those aged 04 years in 1990=


29,354 + 14,351 = 43,705 (approx.)


30,964 + 14,336 = 45,300 (approx.)


60,318 + 28,687 = 89,005 (approx.)

But some of these children will have died between 1990 and 1993.

After adjusting for mortality rate of 9 per 1000 each year, estimated primary school age population =


42,536 (= approx. 42,500)


44,088 (= approx. 44,000)


86,624 (= approx. 86,500).

Population by age and sex - 1990

This sort of information is much needed for district planning purposes, particularly in the agricultural sector, and - like demographic data - it is the sort of information which it is difficult to obtain accurately without a detailed household survey. However, the extent to which such surveys can be used at district level varies, depending on the size of the sample, the way in which it is selected, and the way in which the results are disaggregated. In most cases, this kind of survey is undertaken for national rather than district planning purposes. Consequently, the sample is relatively small and nationwide agro-economic zones usually provide the basis for both selecting the sample and disaggregating the data. However, in some countries where the importance of district level agricultural planning is recognized, such surveys are designed in such a way that they provide statistically valid data at least for the district as a whole and sometimes for particular agroeconomic or administrative areas within districts.

In Box 5.1, the information on land cultivated, livestock units and agricultural income presented in the sections on 'quality of life' end 'inequality between households within areas' were derived from a National Sample Agricultural Survey. In this case, the survey provided data which is statistically valid for the district as a whole but not for individual subdivisions. Consequently, it is useful for giving a general picture of agriculture in the district as a whole, which can in turn be used to make comparisons between districts or (if such surveys are undertaken regularly) over time. However, it is of limited value for detailed agricultural planning. For such purposes, it will be necessary either to rely on reports or casual observation by agricultural staff (see below) or to undertake special surveys (see section 5.4).

Official government records

One of the most useful potential sources of information for district planning purposes is the official records which all government agencies at district level are required to keep and submit periodically to their national headquarters. These records usually take two main forms: reports on activities and problems and statistical returns. This information is primarily intended for national planning and monitoring purposes and district staff tend to regard the maintenance of such records as an unpleasant and largely unnecessary chore. However, a considerable part of the information can usually be fruitfully used at district level. Moreover, with a little ingenuity, district staff can modify the official recording procedures to collect any additional information they may themselves need while still meeting the requirements of their head offices.

All the data on education and health services in Box 5.1 is derived from statistical returns by district representatives of the Ministries of Education and Health. In some cases (eg. the proportion of primary school leavers going on to secondary school and the average class size), such information can be obtained directly from these returns. In other cases, some form of analysis is normally required. For example, in order to know the proportion of primary school age children attending school it is necessary to calculate the number of primary school age children, as demonstrated in Box 5.3. Similarly, in order to know the proportion of the population within a specific radius of a particular education or health facility, it is necessary to locate these facilities on a map and relate this to information on population distribution. This is a somewhat more complex exercise, which will be described in Chapter 6, in the section on education planning.


Maps are a very useful way of presenting data for district planning, especially as a means of conveying information or stimulating discussion at meetings of civil servants, local politicians and/or the general public. Since they portray data in a visual form, they are simpler and clearer than written reports or statistical tables and even people who are not familiar with maps can quickly learn to understand them. They are particularly useful in indicating the degree and form of variation within the district and the relationship between different sectoral activities within a particular geographical area.

Secondary data is often already available in map form, although sometimes the scale of the map is inappropriate for district planning purposes and so the data has to be transcribed onto another map. For example, published maps of physical characteristics (relief, rainfall, geology, soils, etc.) and of the main settlements and communications (roads, railways) are usually available on a nationwide basis, while the district offices of government agencies frequently have their own, hand-drawn maps showing the particular infrastructure or services with which they are concerned (eg. schools, health facilities, water supplies, roads). And data which is not already in map form, can often be presented in such a way without a great deal of effort.

The maps of Gondwanaland in Chapter 2 indicate some of the data which can be presented in the form of maps. Most of the data on these maps is likely already to be available in map form. However, the map of population distribution (Map 3) might have to be compiled by the planner from data such as that in Box 5.2. Further examples of the use of maps will be given in Chapter 6.

General knowledge

Another very valuable source of information for planning at district level is the considerable amount of general knowledge about the district which those involved in planning inevitably have, especially if they have lived or worked in the area for many years. This sort of information is frequently used for planning purposes, but often more or less unconsciously. For example, when a government officer makes an initial proposal for a project which he (or she) considers necessary or contributes to a discussion on someone else's proposal at a planning meeting, it is more than likely that he will be drawing upon his general knowledge of the area. Most of the qualitative data on social justice in Box 5.1 is based on such general knowledge.

The value of this sort of information is limited by the fact that it tends to be qualitative rather than quantitative and to have a high degree of subjectivity. Furthermore, its coverage is seldom comprehensive or systematic, since it has been acquired coincidentally, rather than through a planned data collection exercise. However, these disadvantages are at least partially counterbalanced by the depth and vividness which such information inevitably has. In many cases, it is possible to extract and utilize this sort of information in a more systematic manner; for example, relevant informants may be asked to complete a questionnaire or attend a structured interview. However, in this case one is, strictly speaking, moving from secondary to primary data collection. This sort of primary data collection will be discussed in the last part of section 5.4.

5.4 The collection and use of primary data

Primary data is, as already indicated, data which is collected for a specific planning purpose. In most kinds of planning activity it is necessary to collect some primary data because secondary data seldom provides all the information needed. This is perhaps particularly true in the case of social planning, since secondary data is unlikely to provide the detailed information about people's needs, problems and attitudes which such planning frequently requires. However, there are several different ways of collecting primary data for social planning purposes, depending partly on the type of information required but also on the resources available for data collection. Although primary data collection generally requires more time, money and manpower than using secondary data, there are methods which are relatively inexpensive. This section of the chapter looks at four different types of primary data collection, in order to demonstrate the variety of approaches possible and the issues and problems likely to arise. The four types are: censuses; sample household surveys; rapid appraisal techniques; and participant observation.


The term 'census' is generally used to refer to a survey of all the households in a given area in order to obtain basic data on household characteristics, particularly (but not only) demographic characteristics. The most obvious examples are national population censuses, which were discussed in section 5.3 under the heading of demographic data. It was suggested in section 5.3 that conventional censuses tend to be particularly expensive forms of data collection, since they involve visits to every household in the area. Very few districts ever have the resources to undertake this sort of census for the district as a whole. There are, however, two types of census which can be considered at district level.

'Indirect' census

One is what might be called an 'indirect' census. In this case, household information is obtained indirectly from informants, rather than by actually visiting each household. The informants are usually local level officials, who are delegated the task of visiting each household in the areas under their jurisdiction and obtaining certain prescribed information from them. This approach only works if the information required is kept very simple and there is an effective network of local officials who can be relied upon to undertake the work with a reasonable degree of accuracy and integrity. It is most effective if the officials themselves, and preferably also the people from whom they have to collect the information, appreciate the purpose and value of the exercise. And even then one cannot expect the information to be highly accurate.

This sort of census is worth trying if one requires basic, and not highly accurate, information on the population of the district as a whole (or a large portion of it) and there is no appropriate secondary source. It is particularly useful if there is no reasonably accurate or up-to-date information on population size, or if such information is not disaggregated on the basis of administrative units which are generally used for district planning purposes. Box 5.4 describes a census which was undertaken in Gondwanaland District in 1988, in order to determine the approximate population of each ward and village as a basis for distributing the district's annual Rural Development Fund allocation. In this case, the system of ward and village development committees was used as the basis for data collection.

BOX 5.4


In 1988 the Gondwanaland District Development Committee decided that there was a need to know the approximate population of each ward, as a basis for determining the distribution of the annual Rural Development Fund (RDF) allocation between wards and for general planning purposes. Since it was eight years since the last national population census, there was no up-to-date population data The next census was not due until 1990 and the results of this would probably not be available before 1992. They therefore decided to undertake their own census, using the ward and village development committee structures. The results would not be as accurate as a proper census, but it would be better than nothing. The District Secretary (DS) and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the District Council were given the responsibility of organizing the census.

The census was undertaken in the following way:

    · At the next meeting of the District Council, the DS and CEO explained that it was necessary to know how many people there were in each ward, in order to allocate the RDF fairly and to know how many people were supposed to pay poll tax. The point about tax was introduced to discourage people from over-estimating the population in order to gain a larger share of the RDF.

    · The councillors, who chair the ward development committees, were given a census form for each village in their ward. On this form they were required to list all households in the village and to record the name of the household head and the number of people in each. They were briefed on how to complete the forms at a special meeting, which was also attended by the ward community development workers (CDWs).

    · Each councillor, assisted by the CDW, then held a meeting of his (or her) ward development committee, which is composed of the chairpersons of each village development committee. At this meeting the census was explained and a form was given to each village chairperson.

    · The village chairpersons then conducted the census, monitored as far as possible by the councillor and the CDW.

    · The forms were then returned to the councillor and from there to the Council, where they were checked and processed by the CEO and his staff.

Census of a small area

The other type of census which can be attempted at district level is one which involves only a very small area or community. This kind of census can be very useful if one is planning a project in a particular community (such as a village) and requires basic information on all households in the community in order to design the details of the project and/or provide 'baseline' data from which to later evaluate the impact of the project. In such cases, special funds are sometimes available for such preparatory studies, especially if the project is being funded by some sort of donor agency. And if special funds are not available, existing resources (such as extension staff) can usually be diverted from their normal duties for the relatively short period of time needed to undertake the census.

Box 5.5 illustrates the use of such a census. It describes how the District Agricultural Officer in Gondwanaland decided, after the unfortunate experience with the vegetable garden project described in Box 3.3, to plan the next project of this kind more carefully. This was a project designed to increase cotton production in Zone IIb and the DAO decided that the first step should be to find out more about existing farming systems in the area. In order to do this he used various survey methods, the first of which (described in section (a)), was a census of two villages, in order to find out how much cotton was actually being grown and to provide a basis for selecting a smaller sample of farmers for more detailed study.

Sample household surveys

Sample household surveys are the best known method of obtaining information at the household level. Since such surveys include only a sample of the total population, they require less resources than a conventional census, and so are more likely to be a practicable means of obtaining information for district planning. However, they still require relatively large amounts of time, money and manpower. Consequently, they are generally used for specific purposes in a limited geographical area, rather than to provide basic data for the district as a whole.

BOX 5.5


In 1991 the District Agricultural Officer (DAO) of Gondwanaland decided to look at ways of increasing cotton production in Zone IIb, where the natural resources are similar to Zone IIa but cotton production was considerably lower. After the experience with the vegetable garden project in Zone III (see Box 3.3), he decided that rather than just promote cotton through normal extension methods, he would first find out more about farming systems in the area, in order to see if there were any particular constraints to cotton growing. Since he could not get information from every village, he selected five villages at varying distances from the only cotton marketing depot in the area. He then proceeded to conduct three different kinds of survey: village censuses, sample household surveys and rapid rural appraisal.

· Village censuses

His original intention was to conduct a complete household census in each of the five villages, in order to find out how much cotton each was growing as a basis for selecting a smaller number of households for more detailed study. However, since his resources were limited, he decided to begin in two villages. The censuses were conducted by one of his staff with some training in survey methods, assisted in each case by the extension worker responsible for the village. They went to the villages during the cotton growing season and made rough estimates of the area under cotton planted by each household.

· Sample household surveys

The DAO then divided the population of each of the two villages into three categories on the basis of the amount of cotton grown. The three categories were: none, up to one hectare, and more than one hectare. 10% of the households in each category were then selected randomly for more detailed study. In this case, a simple questionnaire was used, containing questions on household size and composition, ethnolinguistic origin, total area cultivated, area under cotton, availability of draught power, and distance from the cotton marketing depot. The findings from these two surveys suggested that there were three main factors affecting the amount of cotton grown: ethnolinguistic origin (Gonds appearing more likely to cultivate cotton than Wana), availability of draught power, and distance from the depot.

· Rapid rural appraisal

The DAO was pleased with the results of the studies in the first two villages but concerned about the amount of time they had taken. He therefore decided in the other three villages to replace the census with a rapid rural appraisal. Instead of visiting each household, the two extension workers sat down with the village leaders, and together they drew a sketchmap showing the location of all the households in the village, discussed how much cotton each household grew and divided them into the same three categories used in the other villages. They then cross-checked this information by visiting a few households in each category. The sample household surveys were then conducted in the same manner as in the first two villages.

The sample can be selected in three main ways, depending on the type of information required:

In all cases the size of the sample is important, since the sample must be large enough to provide data which is statistically representative of the population as a whole. The minimum sample size varies according to the size of the population and the type of sample. For example, the proportion of the population included in the sample should be larger in small than in large populations, and random samples should be larger than stratified random or purposive samples. However, it should not normally be less than about 10% of the population.

Since such surveys are a well established method of social research, on which much has already been written, further discussion of their methodology is unnecessary here. However, Box 5.5 provides an example of the use of a sample household survey. It describes how the information on cotton production obtained from the two village censuses in Zone IIb of Gondwanaland was used as a basis for selecting a stratified random sample of households in each village, who were then interviewed in more detail. In this case, the sample was stratified on the basis of the amount of cotton grown and the main purpose of the sample survey was to find out more about the factors affecting cotton production.

Rapid appraisal techniques

The concept of 'rapid rural appraisal' was introduced in the late 1970s as a means of obtaining information for rural development planning in situations where there is insufficient time, money and/or manpower to use conventional social survey methods, such as censuses and sample surveys. Until that time, the only alternative source of information was casual observation, often based on a quick drive around the area concerned and thus referred to as 'rural development tourism', which provided unreliable data, biased in favour of those areas easily accessible by road.

Since then, the term 'rapid rural appraisal' has become widely used and, in some cases, extended to cover more than just primary data collection. Because the techniques it uses to collect data often involve active participation by local people, it has in particular become closely associated with participatory planning and the term is thus sometimes used to refer to a comprehensive participatory planning approach. This dimension of rapid rural appraisal will he examined in Chapter 9, which looks specifically at participatory planning. However, for the purposes of this chapter the term will be used in its original sense of a means of collecting primary data in situations where there are insufficient resources to adopt conventional survey methods.

The basic aim of rapid rural appraisal is to obtain information which is adequate - in terms of both quantity and quality - to achieve a particular planning objective with the limited resources of time, money and manpower available. Because the techniques used are in a sense 'short-cut' methods of data collection, the information obtained is often not as accurate or comprehensive as that which would be obtained from a conventional census or sample survey, and it tends to be more qualitative and subjective in form. However, this is not necessarily the case. Much depends on how well the two types of survey are conducted. The results of a good rapid rural appraisal are likely to be much more accurate than those of a bad census or sample survey. Moreover, because rapid appraisal techniques tend to require the active participation of the people who will benefit from the project or programme being planned, there are additional benefits (which will be discussed in Chapter 9) in terms of the long-term sustainability of the project or programme.

Rapid rural appraisal is an art rather than a science, in that it involves designing data collection programmes to fit the particular needs and constraints of each situation, rather than rigidly applying predetermined survey methods. Consequently, there are many different types of appraisal techniques and new ones are being 'invented' all the time. Furthermore, in many cases, more than one technique is used to obtain the same information, as a means of cross-checking the information obtained and thereby compensating for any inaccuracies or biases.

Because there are so many different types of rapid appraisal technique, it is not possible to even list them all here, let alone describe them in any detail. The best way of appreciating their nature and scope is to look at specific examples. Boxes 5.5 and 5.6 provide two such examples. Section (c) of Box 5.5 is a continuation of the account of the cotton expansion project. It describes how the DAO extended the survey to three more villages but, in order to reduce the resources required, used rapid appraisal techniques instead of a full village census to find out how much cotton was being grown and provide the basis for the stratified random sampling. And Box 5.6 describes how various rapid appraisal techniques were used to obtain basic information about farming systems throughout the district, in order to supplement the limited information available from the National Sample Agricultural Survey. The 'indirect' census described in Box 5.4 might also be described as a form of rapid appraisal.

Participant observation

The term "participant observation" is used to refer to the collection of data by people who are actively involved in a situation or an area in a capacity other than data collection. Such people play a dual role, in that they collect data in addition to their normal daily functions. Consequently, participant observation is a relatively economical means of data collection and is, therefore, often included among the repertoire of rapid rural appraisal techniques. However, it is discussed separately here, partly because it is a well established means of data collection which was used before the concept of rapid rural appraisal was conceived and partly because it is of particular relevance in district planning.

Its relevance to district planning lies in the fact that extension workers (including not only agricultural staff but also community development workers, teachers, health workers, and so on) are a valuable potential resource of participant observers. It was mentioned in the last part of section 5.3 that such staff have a great deal of general knowledge about the district which is seldom used systematically but can be 'harnessed' for planning purposes.

BOX 5.6


Encouraged by the findings of his surveys of cotton production in Zone IIb (see Box 5.5), the District Agricultural Officer (DAO) of Gondwanaland decided to use rapid rural appraisal methods to obtain basic information on the farming systems in each zone. This would provide more detailed information than that available from the 1991 National Sample Agricultural Survey and would be useful for basic agricultural planning purposes.

His aim was to obtain the following information for each agroeconomic zone:

    1. Estimated area cultivated (average and range)

    2. Main crops cultivated (cash and subsistence)

    3. Estimated proportion of households using:

    (a) irrigation

    (b) draught power (ox/tractor)

    (c) fertilizers (mulch/manure/artificial)

    (d) hired labour

    4. Estimated number of livestock owned, by type (average and range)

    5. Main uses of livestock (meat, milk, draught power, cash sale, social status)

    6. Grazing system (communal/paddocks/stall-feeding).

He realized that he would not be able to get highly accurate information, especially in the case of the quantitative data But he hoped to be able to get enough information to give a general picture of the farming systems in each zone.

The data collection involved five main stages:

· Questionnaires covering the above topics were sent to all agricultural extension staff They were required to complete a questionnaire for the ward in which they were working (and/or any other wards with which they were familiar if they had been transfered recently), using their existing general knowledge of the area rather than conducting any kind of special investigation.

· The questionnaires were analyzed by zone. The information was adequate to prepare a general description of each zone and, in some cases, to divide a zone into 'sub-zones' if there appeared to be significant differences within it. However, the quantitative data on area cultivated and livestock numbers was inadequate to draw any meaningful conclusions.

· In order to cross-check the initial information and get more accurate quantitative data, the following steps were taken:

    (i) Extension staff were required to cross-check their information on area cultivated and livestock numbers by asking specific questions to those farmers whom they visited in the course of their daily work.

    (ii) A small team of extension staff visited a small sample of villages in each zone and sub-zone (selected randomly) and cross-checked the information through observation and discussions with village leaders.

    (iii) Comparisons were made with any available secondary data

· This information was used to revise and supplement the initial descriptions of zones and sub-zones.

· Finally, the DAO organized a workshop, attended by all extension staff at which the descriptions of zones and sub-zones were discussed and final amendments made.

There are two main ways of harnessing this knowledge. One way is to extract information which the extension workers already have. This can be done by, for example, requiring them to complete a questionnaire, attend a structured interview or take part in a roundtable discussion. The other way is to ask them in advance to collect specific information in the course of their daily work and to record their observations in a particular form.

Both methods are illustrated in Box 5.6. The agricultural extension workers of Gondwanaland were required, initially, to complete a simple questionnaire about the farming systems in the agroeconomic zones with which they were familiar and, subsequently, as an extension of their normal duties to collect certain information which was then used to check and supplement the initial data.



Casley, D.J. & D.A. Lury, Data Collection in Developing Countries, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1981. A comprehensive and practical guide to many forms of data collection required at district level, although with the emphasis on conventional rather than 'rapid' techniques.

FAO, Guide for Training in the Formulation of Agricultural and Rural Investment Projects: Planning Tools, FAO, Rome, 1994. A training text with exercises on survey methods and rapid rural appraisal.

FAO, Population, Society and Agricultural Planning, FAO Economic and Social Development Paper 51, Rome, 1987. Includes detailed guidelines on the collection and analysis of demographic data and its application in various aspects of agricultural planning.

Longhurst, R. (ed), 'Rapid rural appraisal', Bulletin of the Institute of Development Studies (university of Sussex), vol. 12, no. 4, October 1981 (whole issue). The first comprehensive collection of articles on rapid rural appraisal; indicates its rationale and the nature and scope of techniques used.

McCracken, J.A., J.N. Pretty & G.R. Conway, An Introduction to Rapid Rural Appraisal for Agricultural Development, London, International Institute for Environment and Development, 1988. Useful overview of the objectives and methods of rapid rural appraisal and their application for agricultural planning; emphasizes the role of participatory techniques.

Peil, M. et al., Social Science Research Methods: An Africa Handbook, London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1982. A comprehensive and practical review of conventional social survey methods; written specifically for Africa but relevant to most developing countries.

Chapter 6 Formulating social policy

This chapter looks at the methodological issues and problems which arise when formulating policies to achieve objectives which are primarily or entirely 'social' in nature. It does this by taking three specific examples: nutrition planning; education planning; and planning rural water supplies. In each case, four aspects of planning are considered: its role in the overall process of rural development; data needs; major policy issues; and organizational implications.

6.1 Introduction

This chapter is concerned with the formulation of policies to meet social needs or objectives. Its aim is to indicate the types of methodological issues and problems which arise at the policy formulation stage. Chapter 7 will then look at the next stage of the planning process, that of planning specific projects and programmes. In most countries the main responsibility for policy formulation rests at national level and the scope for making major policy decisions at district level is thus limited. However, this does not mean that there is no role at all for policy formulation at district level. This chapter concentrates on those aspects of policy which can be planned at this level, within the broader context of national policies.

The focus of the chapter is on planning to achieve objectives which are generally regarded as being primarily or entirely 'social' in nature, rather than planning where the main objectives are, say, economic or environmental and social considerations are thus of secondary importance. However, this does not mean that 'non-social' factors can be ignored. As already emphasized in Part I of these Guidelines, social development must be seen as an integral part of the overall process of rural development and so cannot be planned in isolation. Consequently, all the policy issues discussed in this chapter have economic as well as social implications and require inputs from more than one discipline or government department.

Since the term 'social' is very broad, there are many different kinds of social policy, each of which raises its own issues and problems. Therefore, instead of trying to generalize about social policy formulation as a whole, the chapter examines three specific examples: nutrition, education and rural water supply. However, in order to emphasize those issues and problems common to all social policy formulation, the discussion of each will be organized under four sub-headings: its role in the overall process of rural development; data needs; major policy issues; and organizational implications. And in each case, the points made will be illustrated by references to relevant sections of the 1992-97 Gondwanaland District Five-Year Plan, which was produced by the District Development Committee in 1991 as a basis for district planning.

6.2 Nutrition policy

Nutrition is not only an important focus of attention in its own right but also a major component of other aspects of rural development, especially agriculture and health. This is reflected in the fact that there is seldom a separate government agency responsible solely for nutrition at national level. It is thus a good example of the inter-disciplinary nature of social policy formulation.

The role of nutrition in rural development

Nutrition both affects and is affected by other aspects of rural development. In other words, it may be regarded as both an input into the development process and an outcome of it.

It is an input to development in two different ways. On the one hand, it is an important objective in itself, in that an improvement in nutrition increases the general quality of life of the persons concerned. And on the other hand, it is a means of achieving other objectives, notably better health and, therefore, increased productivity, reductions in the cost of health care to the individual and the state, and (again) an increase in the general quality of life.

Nutrition is an outcome of development in that an individual or community's nutritional position (or 'status') depends on many different factors, all of which can be influenced directly or indirectly by development activities. These factors include the quantity and quality of food available, household income and expenditure preferences, family size and (in the case of infants) child spacing, gender relations in both the production and consumption of food, and knowledge about nutrition. It is therefore affected by both the general level of development of the individual or community and by specific development programmes, especially in the fields of agriculture, education and community development.

However, the relationship between nutrition and other aspects of development is often complex. One example of this complexity, that of the impact of cash cropping on nutrition, was given in Chapter 3 (section 3.3) and illustrated by the example of the Gondwanaland vegetable garden project (Box 3.3). Another example is the relationship between income and nutrition. An increase in individual or household income generally results in an increase in the amount of food purchased and consumed, at least up to a certain income level at which nutritional needs are met. But it does not necessarily result in an improvement in the quality of food consumed. In fact, it may result in the consumption of more expensive but less nutritious foods - for example, white rice instead of brown rice, processed instead of unprocessed foods, mineral drinks instead of water or tea, and increased amounts of sugar, fats, alcohol and so on. Moreover, it may also result in the consumption of too much food, resulting in obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and related problems, especially when accompanied by a reduction in exercise and/or in cultures where food consumption is regarded as a symbol of affluence and social status. The implications of these complexities for nutritional policy will be considered later.

Data needs

In order to formulate policies to improve nutrition there is a need for information on both the nutritional status of the area or community concerned and the factors affecting this status. Unfortunately, neither kind of information is easy to obtain, especially at district level where resources are limited.

There are two main ways of measuring nutritional status. One is to measure the actual intake of food, in terms of both quantity and nutritional value. This is difficult to do without detailed household surveys, although general information can be obtained by rapid appraisal methods (see Chapter 5), such as discussions with a group of villagers (especially women) or observation by extension staff who live and work in the area. The other method is to measure the impact of nutrition on body size and/or weight. This is not a reliable way of measuring the nutritional status of adults, except in cases of severe malnutrition. However, it is a reasonably accurate indicator of nutrition in the case of small children and there are two relatively simple yardsticks available: weight in relation to age and the circumference of the upper arm. In most countries local medical personnel keep such records for all under-fives who attend maternal and child health clinics; these records are usually the most easily accessible - and often the only - secondary data on nutritional status available to planners at district level.

In order to get information on the factors affecting nutritional status, it is necessary to understand the whole process of food production and/or purchase, storage, preparation and consumption at household level. As in the case of food intake, this really requires detailed household surveys, although general information can be obtained from group interviews and casual observation. It is particularly important - and difficult - to obtain information on relevant cultural factors, such as food preferences, traditional methods of food preparation, and the division of both labour and food between men and women.

Major policy issues

There are many different policy issues related to nutrition. However, for purposes of rural development planning at district level, the following are of particular importance:

· Poverty:

There is a close relationship between poverty and malnutrition. In most rural areas, therefore, an increase in income (either in cash or in kind - ie. food) is a necessary, although not always a sufficient, requirement for improving nutritional status. Consequently, the alleviation of poverty must be a major part of any strategy for improving nutrition. And conversely, any 'development' strategy which results in increased poverty among some or all of the population is likely to have an adverse effect on nutrition. One of the main concerns about structural adjustment programmes is the increase in poverty and, therefore, malnutrition which tends to occur, due primarily to unemployment and increases in food prices. There is little that planners at district level can do to affect such strategies directly. But they can help to alleviate their effects by encouraging income-generating activities and they may be able to have an indirect effect on national policy by monitoring and publicising increases in poverty and malnutrition.

· Subsistence production:

There is a need in many countries to give more attention to subsistence production, with the aim of increasing the quantity, quality and reliability of food supply at household level. The strategies adopted will vary from place to place, since they must be compatible with local physical and cultural conditions. However, they are likely to include measures to increase yields, introduce more nutritious and/or reliable (eg. drought resistant) crops, and improve storage facilities. Agricultural staff at district level usually have some scope to initiate or give greater attention to such measures, although they are obviously bound by national policy and the resources available.

· Cash cropping:

Although cash crops are important as a means of increasing income and therefore reducing poverty, it is important that cash cropping is not promoted at the expense of nutritional considerations. For example, farmers should not be encouraged to devote so much land or inputs to cash crops that they cannot grow enough food to eat, unless it is certain the money earned from cash cropping will be enough to buy food - and that food is available to buy. From this point of view, food crops have an advantage over other cash crops, in that they can be used for domestic consumption and (if there is a surplus) for sale. This has implications in terms of extension policy at district level. It also has implications for pricing policies, but these are obviously beyond the control of district planners.

· Nutritional education:

The policies discussed so far will not result in significant improvements in nutrition unless they are accompanied by nutritional education. This can be provided through various means, including schools, clinics, community development workers, and agricultural extension staff. And it is something that can be initiated at district level, although again there will be constraints due to national policy (eg. school curriculum) and resource availability.

· Food relief:

Finally, there is a need to be prepared for the possibility of having to provide emergency food relief, particularly in areas susceptible to natural disasters such as drought or floods or affected by war or civil unrest. Although this is primarily a national responsibility, district staff can and should take some precautionary measures, especially if their areas are vulnerable. For example, they can look out for early signs of critical food shortages and have an emergency plan ready to put into action as and when needed. And they may also be able to establish emergency grain stores.

Box 6.1 describes how these various policy issues were incorporated into the 199297 Five-Year Plan for Gondwanaland District.

BOX 6. 1


The Gondwanaland District Five-Year Plan for the period 1992-97 includes a policy statement on nutrition. The need for such a policy arose from concern by the Ministry of Health and Council health staff about the number of children suffering from malnutrition in the district and observations by Agriculture staff about the possible negative impact of cash cropping on nutrition. The latter included evidence from the vegetable garden project in Zone III (see Box 3.3), which demonstrated the complexity of the relationship between cash cropping and nutrition, and the survey of cotton production in Zone IIb (Box 5.5), which revealed a negative correlation between the amount of cotton grown and the amount of food crops, especially in the case of smaller-scale farmers. There was particular concern about the situation in Zone V, where there is a very high rate of malnutrition (compare Box 3.4), emergency food relief is often needed, and its distribution is frequently hampered because of the area's inaccessibility in the wet season.

The main components of the nutrition policy are:

    · There will be a concerted effort to alleviate poverty in the district, in order to (among other things) improve the nutritional status of the population.

    · The Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources will prepare a strategy for improving the production and storage of food crops for each agroeconomic zone and promote these strategies through its extension work. Special attention will be given to Zone V, because of the particular problems there.

    · Before embarking on any attempt to either increase production of an existing cash crop or introduce a new one, the likely implications in terms of nutrition will be assessed.

    · A simple package of materials on the basic principles of nutrition will be prepared by the Ministry of Health, in consultation with other relevant agencies, for use by schools, clinics, community development workers and agricultural extension staff

    · Agriculture staff will provide advance warning of any likely food shortages to the district's Disaster Relief Committee, which win then be responsible for organizing the necessary food relief A special store of food grain will be kept at the clinic in Zone V, to facilitate the distribution of relief food when required.

The policy was formulated by a Nutrition Task Force, composed of representatives of the Ministries of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Health, Education, and Community Development and Social Welfare, and the District Council. This Task Force is also responsible for coordinating and monitoring the implementation of the policy.

Organizational implications

There are two main implications in terms of the organizational structures and procedures needed to formulate nutrition policy at district level:

· The formulation of nutrition policy must be an inter-departmental activity, since several different government departments or agencies are involved. The most obvious are those responsible for agriculture, health, education and community development. This suggests the need for an interdepartmental committee or task force at district level, like that established in Gondwanaland (see Box 6.1). If it is necessary to appoint one agency to play a lead role (for example, to chair the committee), agriculture or health is likely to be the most appropriate; however, this will depend partly on where the main responsibility for nutrition lies at national level.

· Ultimately, decisions about nutrition are made at individual or household level. Consequently, it is essential that the needs and priorities of local people and the social structure within the household are understood and taken into consideration in policy formulation. This suggests the need for a participatory approach.

6.3 Education policy

Education is a more obviously 'sectoral' activity than nutrition, in the sense that responsibility for education is usually clearly located within one central government ministry or department, although some educational functions are often delegated to local governments. It thus illustrates the process of policy formulation within one of the main 'social sectors'.

The role of education in rural development

Like nutrition, education may be regarded as both an input into the development process and an outcome of it. As an input, it is - again like nutrition - both an objective in its own right and a means of achieving other objectives, notably the establishment of a skilled labour force and the creation of a generally educated and aware population, which in turn result in increased productivity, a reduction in the birth rate and therefore in the rate of population growth, increased awareness of human rights and responsibilities, a more enlightened electorate, and so on. And it is an outcome in the sense that both the quantity and quality of education available to an individual or a community depends on other factors, particularly the affluence of individual households and communities and of the nation as a whole, 'which is in turn dependent on the general level of economic development.

However, the relationship between education and other aspects of development is also complex. For example, education is not always beneficial to the general development of a nation. Its value depends on the extent to which the quantity, type and quality of education matches development needs. Many less developed countries have large numbers of unemployed school leavers who are reluctant to work on the land but cannot find non-agricultural employment, while at the same time industries, professions and government suffer from a lack of competent and/or qualified skilled manpower. The implications of this for agriculture were discussed in Chapter 3 (section 3.3) and illustrated by the example of the Gondwanaland vegetable garden project (Box 3.3). In other cases, the problem is that the education system is primarily a means of indoctrination rather than education, and so does little to create an educated and aware population.

Similarly, although access to education usually increases if there is an increase in wealth at household, community or national level, this is not always the case, since it also depends on the relative importance attached to education by the household, community or nation. For example, attitudes to education in general, and the education of girls in particular, vary significantly from one household to another and from one culture to another. And the proportion of national income allocated to education varies considerably from one country to another.

Data needs

In order to formulate education policy at district level, information is needed on both the supply of and demand for education. In other words, there is a need, on the one hand, to have data on existing and potential education facilities and, on the other hand, to know the number of people requiring education and the type of education needed.

The supply side data is generally relatively easy to obtain. As indicated in Chapter 5, district education offices usually keep reasonably good records, including information on the number and location of schools, the quality of buildings, the number of pupils by school, class and sex, the number of teachers and therefore the pupil : teacher ratio, school curriculum, performance in examinations, and so on. Moreover, education staff generally have some idea of the resources likely to be available for future expansion.

Data on demand tends to be somewhat more complex and more difficult to obtain. There are three main kinds of information needed.

Firstly, there is a need for quantitative data on the numbers of children eligible to attend various types or levels of education. For example, the number eligible to attend primary school can be determined by calculating the number of children of primary school age (see Box 5.3 for an example), while the number eligible to attend secondary school can be calculated on the basis of the number completing primary school or (if entry to secondary school is restricted) meeting the necessary entrance requirements.

Secondly, there is a need for data on the geographical distribution of demand. This can best be obtained by locating educational facilities on a map and relating this to the distribution of population. Box 6.2 shows the distribution of population by village in Gondwanaland District (based on data collected in the District Census described in Box 5.4) and the location of secondary schools. The circles around the schools indicate their catchment areas, based on a policy that children should not have to travel more than 10 kilometres to secondary school. This map can therefore be used to calculate the proportion of the population living within 10 kilometres of a secondary school (which was one of the social indicators included in Boxes 3.2 and 5.1) and to indicate those parts of the district where the provision of secondary schools is inadequate because children have to travel more than 10 kilometres and, if necessary, the approximate numbers of people thus deprived. If detailed population data is not available, the numbers of people who do or do not live within the stipulated distance cannot be calculated, but the catchment 'circles' can still be used to indicate the geographical areas where provision is inadequate.

Thirdly, there is a need for information on the demand for skilled or educated manpower, in order to try to match education with manpower needs. This is the most difficult kind of data to obtain, especially at district level, since school leavers are likely to look for jobs outside the district as well as within it. Moreover, district planners may feel that there is little point in collecting such information if (as is usually the case) they have no power to either restrict school entry or change the curriculum on the basis of manpower needs. Nevertheless, it is generally possible - and useful - to obtain some information, albeit of a qualitative nature, on the scale of unemployment among school leavers in the district, the types of skills required by any major employers in the area, and the relevance of the curriculum to smallholder agricultural production and small-scale or informal non-agricultural income-earning opportunities.

Major policy issues

Once again there are many different policy issues which might be considered. However, since the aim here is to illustrate the types of issues involved rather than provide a comprehensive guide to educational policy, attention will be focused on four main policy areas:

Box 6.2 Gondwanaland: access to secondary schools

· The level of education:

Education is usually categorised on the basis of 'level', the main levels being pre-school, primary, secondary, tertiary and adult. Changes in the amount of resources devoted to any or all of these affect the impact of education on other aspects of development. For example, primary and adult education are seen primarily as a means of creating an educated and aware population, while secondary and tertiary education are directed more towards meeting the need for skilled manpower. The scope for district planners to influence the relative importance of these various levels of education is limited, since such decisions are generally considered part of national policy. However, they may be able to have some impact, particularly if they have some control over resources. For example, if they have control over funds to support the construction of school buildings, they can decide to, say, give higher priority to primary than secondary schools. Similarly, if there is a general rural development fund, this can used to support adult education.

· Access to education:

The total number of people in a district who have access to education as a whole, or to particular levels of education, is usually determined by the amount of resources available, which is often outside the control of the district. However, it is usually possible for planners at district level to have some influence over the distribution of education between different geographical areas and/or social groups within the district. For example, if the district has access to funds for the construction of school buildings, planners can compile a map such as that shown in Box 6.2 and recommend that priority be given to those areas where existing provision is inadequate. Similarly, if school enrolment figures suggest that the proportion of eligible boys who enter secondary school is higher than that of girls, it may be possible (if national policy does not prevent such a move) to require secondary schools to enrol a certain minimum quota of girls. Of course, in both cases the implementation of such policies may be frustrated by other factors. Thus, local politicians may reject or ignore the policy on geographical distribution (resulting in discrimination like that against the Hurda of Gondwanaland, described in Box 3.4), while many parents may refuse to send their daughters to secondary school, thus making it impossible to meet the quota.

· The quality of education:

A mayor concern in many less developed countries is the poor quality of education, which is reflected in the standards of buildings and equipment, the qualifications and attitudes of teachers, and the performance of students. In most cases, this is due either to a rapid expansion of the scale of education at the expense of quality, or to lack of resources due to a general deterioration of the economy - and in some cases, to both. Once again, the scope for action at district level is limited, and dependent to a large extent on the amount of control which the district has over education resources. However, there are usually some steps that can be taken at this level. For example, a district may improve the quality of buildings or equipment by using construction funds to improve existing buildings rather than construct new ones, soliciting funds from sympathetic donors or mobilizing community resources. And it may have some impact on teacher motivation by improving supervision and (if resources permit) organizing conferences or workshops.

· The relevance of education:

Since the role of education in development depends to a large extent on its relevance, there is a need to adapt the content of educational programmes to meet development needs. Although this is again a matter primarily of national policy, there is some room for manoeuvre at district level, especially in the 'non-formal' education sector (which includes much adult education), where there is less concern about national curriculum and standards. Thus, in most countries there is nothing to prevent a district from establishing its own adult education programme, designed to meet its own development needs, provided it can obtain the resources necessary for doing so. And even in the formal part of the education system, it is usually possible to introduce some kind of local component into the curriculum. For example, local education staff could collaborate with the ministry of agriculture to provide relevant agricultural training in primary schools, or with the ministry of health to provide education on nutrition, AIDS or other health problems.

Box 6.3, which looks at the education policy for Gondwanaland District, illustrates the sorts of policy decisions about education which can be made at district level.

BOX 6.3


The 1992-97 Gondwanaland District Five-Year Plan includes a policy statement on education. The policy reflects an attempt by the district to have some influence on education policy, despite the fact that most policy decisions are made at national level. The need for this arose from concern about a number of education-related problems in the district, including the deteriorating quality of education, the large numbers of unemployed school leavers, the reluctance of many school leavers to work on the land (compare the situation in Muriwana, described in Box 3.3), and the lessons learned from the Catholic Church's adult education activities in some parts of the district (see also Box 3.3).

The main components of the district's education policy are:

    1. New schools will be established only in areas which are, in the case of primary schools, more than 5 kilometres from the nearest school and, in the case of secondary schools (compare Box 6.2), more than 10 kilometres.

    2. Except in the above cases, capital funds for education win be used to improve the quality of existing facilities, including the rehabilitation of existing buildings, the construction of additional classrooms and teachers' houses, and the purchase of equipment.

    3. Local communities will be required to contribute at least 75% of the cost of the capital works covered under 1. and 2. above in the case of primary schools and at least 50% in the case of secondary schools. Contributions may be in cash or kind.

    4. All secondary schools will be required to admit equal numbers of boys and girls, provided that there are sufficient numbers of girls who meet the required entrance requirements.

    5. An 'Education for Life' component will be introduced into the last two years of the primary school curriculum. Its aim will be to make children aware of the unemployment problem and of potential income earning opportunities (agricultural and non-agricultural) in their home areas. It win be taught by agriculture and social science teachers, as an extension of their existing curricular activities. However, the teachers will work closely with local extension staff and members of the community. The project will be coordinated by the District Council, with assistance from an international NGO working in the area

    6. The Ministry of Community Development and Social Welfare will introduce pilot adult literacy projects, along the lines of those run by the Catholic Church, in five wards of the district. The projects will be organized by the ward community development workers, who will work with ward and village development committees, and the Catholic Church will provide some advice and assistance.

The policy was formulated jointly by the Ministry of Education and the District Council's education staff with inputs from other agencies (especially the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Ministry of Community Development and Social Welfare) in the case of items 5 and 6.

Organizational implications

There are three main organizational factors which need to be considered in formulating education policy:

· The responsibility for education is often divided, as in Gondwanaland, between central and local government agencies, although there is a tendency for the national government to be responsible for most policy issues, while local governments are primarily implementing agencies. In such cases, it is important that both agencies are involved in policy formulation at district level and that, as far as possible, planning is undertaken jointly.

· Although education is not a multisectoral activity in the way that nutrition is, there is a need for education staff to involve other government agencies, and also the private sector, in policy formulation. This is particularly important in the case of decisions concerning the relevance of education. For example, they should, as already indicated, consult major employers to find out about specific manpower needs and collaborate with staff responsible for agriculture and health to provide relevant inputs into the curriculum.

· Finally, as in the case of nutrition, many factors which affect education are determined at household level, and in this case particularly by parents. For example, parents decide whether or not to send their children to school and whether to give priority to sons rather than daughters, and they influence the amount of support and encouragement in their schoolwork which the children get at home and their attitudes towards future employment. Consequently, it is important to understand and, where necessary and possible, influence parental behaviour, which in turn implies a participatory approach to planning.

6.4 Rural water supply policy

Since water has many uses, the planning of rural water supplies is, like nutrition planning, most appropriately regarded as a multi-sectoral activity, although in many countries there is a specific central and/or local government agency responsible for the construction and maintenance of physical facilities. It is also an area where the social and economic objectives are particularly closely related.

The role of improved water supplies in rural developments

The provision of a clean, reliable and accessible source of water is, like nutrition and education, both an input into the development process and an outcome of it. As an input, it contributes to development in many ways, both direct and indirect. By improving the quantity and quality of domestic water and reducing the time taken to collect it, it has a direct impact on the quality of life, results in better health (and therefore increased productivity and reductions in health costs) and releases labour for more directly productive purposes. And if the improved water source also provides water for productive purposes (such as irrigation, livestock watering or small-scale industry), or if it enables water from unimproved sources to be used for such purposes because it is no longer required for domestic use, it has an additional benefit in terms of economic production. And it is an outcome in that access to improved water supplies, as to education, depends on other dimensions of development, especially the affluence of the household or community concerned and of the nation as a whole.

However, as in the other two examples, the relationship between water supply and other aspects of development is complex, and not always positive. The anticipated health benefits will only occur if water is properly stored and used, while the anticipated benefits in terms of releasing labour for productive purposes will only materialize if there are alternative productive activities and if women (who are the main water carriers) choose to use the extra time in this way. Moreover, the provision of a new water source can create as well as solve health problems (for example, by increasing the incidence of malaria or bilharzia) and, if not properly managed, can cause erosion. Furthermore, and perhaps most important of all, improved water sources are only of benefit if they are operational. If, as is too often the case, the pump on a borehole breaks down and is not repaired promptly or a shallow well or small dam silts up, the community is in many respects worse off than it was before, because it had come to depend on the new source. For these and other reasons careful planning is essential.

Data needs

In order to formulate policy on rural water supplies, there is a need for data on existing water sources, both traditional and improved, and on existing and potential water use for both domestic and productive purposes. However, much of this data is somewhat difficult to obtain.

Information on existing improved supplies is usually relatively easily available, especially if there is an agency specifically responsible for construction and/or maintenance. However, even in this case it may be difficult to get accurate data, since records are not always kept up-to-date. For example, there is often no up-to-date information on how many supplies are actually in working order.

Information on traditional water sources and water use is considerably more difficult to obtain, because there are unlikely to be any records at district level. Consequently, it is usually necessary to visit individual communities to get detailed information. As is so often the case, individual household surveys usually provide the most reliable information. However, reasonably accurate and comprehensive data can often be obtained by using rapid appraisal techniques, including discussions with village leaders and groups of women, guided visits to water sources, and observation of water use at water sources and, if possible, in homesteads.

As in the case of education, it is useful to locate as many of the water sources as possible, especially the improved sources, on a map, in order to identify geographical variations in access to water as a basis for determining future priorities. It is also particularly important to understand the cultural aspects of water use, including traditional customs and taboos about the use of particular sources, rights of access to water, modes of cooperation for the purposes of managing water resources, and the role of women in fetching and using water and in making decisions about water use at household and community level.

Major policy issues

The following are some of the most important policy issues likely to be encountered in planning rural water supplies at district level. Most of them are issues which can be addressed at this level, especially if the district has some control over the resources used to construct and/or maintain water supplies.

· Alternative water uses:

As already indicated, rural water supplies can be used for several different purposes, including both domestic use (drinking and washing) and various productive purposes (irrigation, livestock watering, construction, small scale industries, etc.). In order to make maximum use of the water itself, and the capital investment involved in making it available, each water source should be used for as many different purposes as possible. It should in particular be used for some sort of productive activity, as well as for domestic use, if at all possible. In many cases this sort of multiple use is not actively encouraged by governments, usually because the agency responsible for providing water for domestic purposes is different from that responsible for, say, agriculture or small businesses. However, it is also important to ensure that the various uses do not conflict with each other. For example, water should not be used for productive purposes if there will then be a shortage of water for domestic use or if it will cause pollution.

· Access to water:

As with education, it is important that planners consider the distribution of water supplies between different geographical areas and between social groups. In order to ensure a fair geographical distribution it is necessary to prioritize areas on the basis of the need for improved water supplies, using the data on existing water sources discussed above. Ensuring a fair distribution between social groups is somewhat more difficult, since this depends to a large extent on the way that decisions about access to water are made within local communities. However, planners should avoid locating a water supply in a place where its use will be dominated by one of more members of the local elite. Moreover, the introduction of payments for water (which is discussed below) is also likely to restrict access for the poorer sectors of the community.

· Maintenance of water supplies:

One of the biggest problems associated with the provision of improved water supplies is that of maintenance. In many countries a great deal of money has been spent on the provision of rural water supplies which, a few years later, are unusable because of lack of proper care and maintenance. This problem can be tackled by two interrelated measures. One is to decentralize the responsibility for maintenance as far as possible to the local community. This means appointing a committee and/or individual responsible for maintenance and providing the necessary training, equipment and back-up support. It also means that the community must regard the water supply as its own, rather than something belonging to government, which has implications in terms of planning which will be discussed in the next section on organizational implications. The other measure is to simplify and, as far as possible, standardize the technology used, in order to facilitate maintenance, especially by local communities.

· Paying for water:

There is much debate among those involved in rural water supply planning about the advantages and disadvantages of introducing some sort of payment for rural water. Those in favour argue not only that it is necessary for governments to recoup at least part of the costs of providing water but also that people value the water supply more - and thus take better care of it - if they have to pay for it. And those against maintain that rural people are in general poorer than those in urban areas (especially in terms of cash income) and that (as indicated above) the poorest families would in effect be denied access to water if they had to pay for it. In many countries this is a matter of national rather than local policy. However, if a decision does have to be made at district level, those involved should consider the above advantages and disadvantages in the light of their own particular circumstances. Experience suggests that, if some sort of payment is to be levied, it is best done at community level and used to support the maintenance work done by the community itself.

· Hygiene education:

In order to maximize the potential health benefits from the provision of improved water supplies, there is a need for basic hygiene education, including methods of collecting and storing water for drinking purposes, protecting water sources from pollution, and constructing and using latrines. This is not something which can be done overnight; it requires a concerted effort over a long period of time, directed to all members of the community (and household) and undertaken by extension staff who have the respect and confidence of the local people.

Box 6.4 shows how some of these policy issues were addressed in Gondwanaland.

BOX 6.4


The Gondwanaland District Five-year Plan for 1992-97 includes a policy statement on rural water supply. This policy reflects a major change in direction at district level. In the past domestic water supplies have been constructed and maintained by the District Council, with very limited resources and without consultation with other central or local government agencies or any effective form of community involvement. Consequently, there are many area; without any form of improved supply and many others where the supply is unusable due to lack of maintenance. The new policy is being used as a basis for discussion with a prospective donor agency, in the hope of obtaining funds for a major programme of construction and rehabilitation.

The main components of the new water supply policy are:

    · Water supplies should be used for productive as well as domestic purposes, provided that sufficient water is available and the water will not be polluted. In order to facilitate this, troughs for watering livestock will be provided wherever feasible and agricultural extension staff will encourage the establishment of communal gardens near the water source.

    · A survey of existing water sources will be undertaken by Council staff, using rapid appraisal methods, and the results will be used to determine priorities between areas on the basis of need.

    · Local communities will be fully involved in the planning, construction and maintenance of water supplies. An improved supply will not be provided unless or until the user community has made a formal request and agreed to provide labour to assist in the construction, appoint a water use committee to look after the supply, and recruit a pumpminder who will be given basic maintenance training by the Council. These requirements will be fully explained to the communities before the programme starts.

    · Special efforts will be made to involve women in the initial survey of needs and the pre-construction consultation programme and women will be encouraged but not forced to become members of water use committees.

    · A limited range of simple technology will be used, the emphasis being on equipment which can be maintained as far as possible at community level and for which spare parts are easily available locally.

    · A hygiene education programme will be initiated at the same time as the construction programme. A basic training package, similar to that for nutrition education (see Box 6.1) will be prepared by the Ministry of Health for use in schools and by health staff and community development workers. It will include material on the construction and use of latrines, the protection of water sources, the collection and storage of water, and the preparation of food.

The policy was formulated by an inter-departmental committee, composed of representatives of the District Council and the Ministries responsible for Agriculture, Health and Community Development. The committee will be responsible for coordinating and monitoring the implementation of the policy, if donor funds are obtained.

Organizational implications

There are three main implications in terms of the organizational aspects of rural water supply planning:

· The formulation of policy on rural water supplies must be done on an inter-departmental basis, as in Gondwanaland, not solely by the agency responsible for the construction and/or maintenance of water supplies. It is particularly important that those agencies responsible for agriculture, health, education and community development are involved.

· Community participation in rural water supply planning is essential, partly in order to ensure that improved water sources meet local needs, but primarily to encourage a sense of community ownership and, therefore, responsibility for the proper use, care and maintenance of the water supply. Methods of community participation in this and other kinds of planning will be discussed in Chapter 9.

· Since women are almost always responsible for the collection and use of water for domestic purposes and often also for the use of water for small-scale irrigation or gardening, it is essential that women are fully involved in the planning process. This is not always easy, since most planners and extension workers are male and in many rural communities women are not expected or allowed to participate openly in community decision-making. It is therefore necessary to make special efforts to involve women, while at the same time taking care not to arouse too much resentment in the community by contravening local customs or conventions. This will be discussed further in Chapter 8, as part of a more general discussion on planning to meet the needs of rural women.


The methodological issues and problems which arise when formulating social policy at district level are illustrated by looking at three specific policy areas:


In order to improve nutrition, one must address the much wider problem of poverty, which is one of the main causes of malnutrition. It is also necessary to improve subsistence production, ensure that cash cropping does not have an adverse effect on nutrition, provide nutrition education, and be prepared to provide emergency food relief if required. Nutrition planning must be an inter-departmental activity and must involve local people.


When formulating education policy, it is necessary to consider the level of education, access to education by different geographical areas and social groups, the quality of education, and its relevance to local development needs. Although major policy decisions about all these issues tend to be made at national level, there is usually some room for manoeuvre at district level. Responsibility for education generally rests with one central and/or local government agency, but there is a need to involve other agencies and the local people in education planning.

Rural water supply:

When formulating policy on rural water supplies, there is a need to consider the use of water sources for both domestic and productive purposes, access to water by geographical area and social group, provisions for the maintenance of water supplies, the possibility of requiring people to contribute to the cost of water provision, and the need for hygiene education. Water supply planning must be an interdepartmental activity and community participation is essential in order to encourage a sense of ownership and therefore responsibility for maintenance. Since women are the main water-carriers and users, their involvement is critical.



Hardiman, M. & J. Midgley, The Social Dimensions of Development, Chichester, Wiley, 1982 and MacPherson, S., Social Policy in the Third World, Brighton, Harvester, 1982. Both these books provide a general introduction to social policy issues in general and to specific policy areas, including health, education, housing and social welfare. However, they do not relate specifically to the district level.


FAO/WHO, Major Issues for Nutrition Strategies, Rome/Geneva, 1992. Series of eight papers prepared as background material for the joint FAO/WHO 1992 International Conference on Nutrition. Topics covered include food security, the role of nutrition in general development, and data collection.

Kielman, A.A., K. Janovsky & H. Annett, Assessing District Health Needs! Services and Systems, London, Macmillan (for African Medical and Research Foundation), 1991. Guide to rapid appraisal methods of obtaining basic data for health planning at district level. Includes section on measuring nutritional status, but also of more general value.

World Health Organization (WHO), Guidelines for Training Community Health Workers in Nutrition, Geneva, 1986. Useful manual on basic nutrition principles, designed specifically for extension trainers but also useful for district planners.


International Institute for Educational Planning, various publications on education planning in developing countries, Paris, UNESCO.

Simmons, J. (ed.), The Education Dilemma: Policy Issues for Developing Countries in the 1980s, Oxford, Pergamon, 1980. Draws on worldwide experience in previous decades and covers all the basic policy issues, although not focused specifically at district level.

See also the chapters on education in the two books on social policy cited under the 'Genera!' heading.

Rural water supply

UNICEF, UNICEF Programme Guidelines: Vol. 3 Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene, New York, 1988. Guidelines for the planning and implementation of UNICEF water and sanitation projects; covers most basic policy issues. UNICEF plays an important role in rural water supply provision and is an advocate of community involvement.

White, A., Community Participation in Water and Sanitation: Concepts! Strategies and Methods, The Hague, IRC International Water & Sanitation Centre, 1981. One of many useful publications by the Centre. Covers most aspects of community participation in rural water supply provision.

Chapter 7 Assessing social costs and benefits

This chapter examines ways of assessing the social costs and benefits of projects and programmes, as part of the wider process of project or programme appraisal. It begins by looking at the need for project appraisal in general and the assessment of social costs and benefits in particular, and then considers the types of social costs and benefits likely to occur, ways of measuring them, and ways of comparing them with economic costs and benefits. It concludes by looking at the politics of project appraisal. Three examples from Gondwanaland District are used to illustrate the various points made.

7.1 Why assess social costs and benefits?

Chapter 6 was concerned with that part of the planning process which involves the formulation of broad policies or strategies. This chapter focuses on the next part of the process, that of identifying and appraising specific projects or programmes which will help to implement these policies or strategies. The terms 'project' and 'programme' are used more or less interchangeably in this chapter, since the basic methodological issues under discussion apply to both projects and programmes and the term 'project appraisal' is generally used to apply to both. However, in order to avoid confusion it may be useful to explain how they differ. Although there is no standard definition of either term, the word 'project' generally implies a more discrete and/or limited activity or set of activities than the word 'programme' and a more specific physical identity and/or geographical location.

Project appraisal is the process of assessing the anticipated costs and benefits of proposed projects or programmes as a basis for making investment decisions. More specifically, project appraisal has three main functions:

Boxes 7.1-7.3 present examples of each of these three functions from Gondwanaland District. Box 7.1 describes the process of appraising a proposal to develop the coal reserves in the extreme western part of the district. Box 7.2 compares three possible ways of controlling flooding in the Mvura valley. And Box 7.3 focuses on the criteria used to prioritize applications for Rural Development Fund (RDF) support.

Project appraisal is one of the most important components of planning and probably the one that has received the most attention, particularly from economists. It is thus a vast topic on which there are many textbooks and manuals. This chapter therefore focuses only on the social aspects of project appraisal. The aim is to indicate the kinds of socials issues which need to be taken into consideration and to suggest ways in which this might be done, bearing in mind the limited skills and resources likely to be available for project appraisal at district level. It is assumed that the reader either already has a basic knowledge of project appraisal techniques or has access to other sources of information thereon if or when the need arises.

The social aspects of project appraisal are often neglected. The main reason for this is that project appraisals are generally undertaken by and for economists and the main concern is to justify the financial costs of the investment. Consequently, attention is focused on the economic costs and benefits. Social considerations tend to be ignored either because they appear to have no financial implications or because their financial implications are so indirect or obscure that they cannot be calculated in any meaningful way. However, as indicated in Chapter 3, it is now generally recognized by economists that the social (and also the environmental) implications of projects must be taken into consideration, in order to ensure that social benefits are maximized and social costs minimized and to identify any social constraints which may hamper the implementation process.

7.2 Types of social costs and benefits

Social costs and benefits are costs or benefits related to any of the issues or activities defined as 'social' in Chapter 2, notably:

As with other aspects of social planning, it is not always possible to draw a clear line between social and economic costs or benefits. For example, an increase in household income is generally regarded as an economic benefit and therefore included in the economic aspects of project appraisal. However, it also has an important impact on the quality of life in general, including such things as nutrition, access to social services, availability and use of leisure time and freedom of choice, which are generally regarded as being of 'social' rather than 'economic' significance. One implication of this is the need for the economic and social aspects of project appraisal to be closely related.

The best way of demonstrating the nature of social costs and benefits and their relationship to those of an economic nature is to look at the three examples from Gondwanaland described in Boxes 7.1-7.3.

Box 7.1 describes a study of the likely social impact of the proposed coal mine (known as the Senda coal mine) in the extreme western part of the district, which was commissioned by the Government of New Kolonia as part of a comprehensive appraisal of the project. The study suggested that the mine would have both positive and negative effects on the local population. The positive effects would include employment opportunities, improved access (since a new road would have to be built to link the mine to the main trunk road), a market for local produce (such as vegetables), improved social services (provided that local people would be allowed to use the mine facilities) and royalty payments (which would be paid to the District Council and thus presumably used to benefit the district in some way or other). However, many of these benefits would not accrue to the Hurda people, who live in the immediate project area. For example, few of them would be able to take up the employment or market opportunities and, given the character of local politics in the district, they would probably see little if any benefit from the royalty payments. The main beneficiaries would be people from other parts of the district and possibly also neighbouring districts. Moreover, the traditional life of the Hurda would be disrupted by the influx of people from outside the area and the fact that they would no longer have access to the land on which the mine would be built, which was important as a dry season grazing area and contained a number of sacred places.

BOX 7.1



In 1991 the Government of New Kolonia decided to explore the feasibility of developing the coal reserves in the Senda hills, in the extreme western part of Zone V of Gondwanaland District (see Map 2 in Chapter 2), to supply the industrial city of Omega, which lies about 275 kilometres northwest of the coal deposits. In the past the Senda deposits had not been considered because there were much more accessible coal reserves near Omega, but these were now becoming exhausted and so an alternative source of supply would soon be needed. A multinational mining company, Global Exploits Ltd., was interested in developing the Senda mine as a joint venture with the Government. The Gondawana District Council and local MPs were in support of the idea, especially since the Council would be entitled to royalties from the mine.

An initial feasibility study was undertaken by Global Exploits in 1992. This focused on the mine's financial viability, and included a preliminary assessment of the costs of constructing infrastructure at the mine site and a road to link the area with the main trunk road from Alpha to Omega (see Map 1 in the Annexe). The results were sufficiently encouraging to warrant a full appraisal, and the Government insisted that this should include an assessment of the likely social and environmental, as well as economic, impact of the mine.

The social impact study

A consultant sociologist from the University of New Kolonia, who was familiar with the Hurda people in the project area, was commissioned to undertake the social impact study. Her terms of reference were to:

    1. assess the likely benefits and costs to people in the immediate vicinity of the mine and in a wider area;

    2. identify any social factors which may ham per project implementation; and

    3. recommend ways of maximizing the benefits and minimizing the costs identified under (1) and reducing or eliminating the impact of the factors identified under (2).

Anticipated social implications

The main findings of the study were as follows:

· The impact on the people in the wider project area, which included much of Gondwanaland District and neighbouring parts of the two districts to the north and west, would be generally positive. The main benefits would be employment, improved road access, markets for local produce (eg. vegetables), and (in the case of Gondwanaland) benefits from the use of royalty payments.

· The impact on the Hurda people in the immediate vicinity of the mine would be mainly negative. Because of their lack of education and limited agricultural production, they would not be in a position to benefit significantly from the provision of employment or markets, except possibly from the sale of traditional craftwork, and because of their lack of political influence at district level, they would be unlikely to benefit from the royalty payments. Moreover, they would lose access to the land on which the mine would be located, which (being the wettest part of the area) is an important dry season grazing area and also contains a number of sacred sites, and the intrusion of the mine, together with large numbers of workers from outside the area, would disrupt their traditional social life. The most likely benefits would be the road, which would at least facilitate the distribution of drought relief food, and their possible access to social facilities (eg. schools, hospital) at the mine site.

· There would be a risk that the implementation of the project would be hampered by conflicts between the Hurda and the 'foreign' workers, which might possibly lead to physical acts of sabotage by the Hurda. There would probably also be protests from the two neighbouring districts about the fact that royalties were paid only to Gondwanaland, and conflicts within Gondwanaland about the use of the royalties.

· The consultant recommended that, if the project went ahead, the following measures should be taken:

    (1) The access road should go through Zone V and the northern part of Zone III, in order to maximize the benefits in terms of local access.

    (2) Those Hurda wishing to stay in the area and benefit from it should be assisted to do so by the District Council, and those wishing to leave should be found alternative grazing in the neighbouring district.

    (3) The social facilities at the mine should be open to the general public

    (4) The usual rate of royalty payment should be increased because of the unusual degree of social disruption which the mine would create, on condition that the District Council spent a fixed percentage of the payment each year in Zone V.

    (5) A liaison committee should be established, comprising officials of the mining company, the District Secretaries of the three districts concerned, a representative of the District Council, and the councillors of the wards directly affected by the mine.

Box 7.2 compares three alternative methods of controlling flooding in the Mvura valley: the construction of a dam in the northern part of Zone I to control the flow of water in the river; the construction of embankments or 'levees' along the banks of the river at those points where flooding is most likely to occur; and protective measures by individual farmers, including the construction of small embankments and drainage ditches around fields and the relocation of houses. From a social point of view, the construction of levees would be the best option, since it would achieve the desired objective without any social costs. The other two options would both have significant social costs; the dam would displace large numbers of people, while the third option would require a great deal of effort by individual farmers and would only be effective if all or most farmers cooperated.

BOX 7.2



Flooding of the Mvura river is a major problem in Zone 1. In 1992 there was a particularly serious flood, in which ten people died and there was widespread loss of crops and property. The Gondwanaland District Development Committee then decided that something must be done. A task force composed of the representatives of the Ministries of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Public Works, and Energy and Water Resources (which does not have an office at district level but sent a representative from the regional office) and the District Council was set up to consider alternative ways of tackling the problem.

The alternatives

The Task Force identified three possible alternatives:

    · Construction of a dam in the north of the zone to control the flow of water into the lower stretches of the river.

    · Construction of embankments or 'levees' along those banks of the river which were most often breached by flood waters.

    · Improved on-farm flood control measures (eg. construction of small embankments and drainage ditches) by individual farmers.

Comparing the alternatives

The three alternatives were compared on the basis of the following criteria: effectiveness in terms of flood control; financial costs (capital and recurrent); immediate social costs; secondary costs and benefits; and implementability. The findings suggested that:

    · The dam would be the most effective means of flood control, and would also have secondary benefits in terms of possible alternative uses of the water. However, the capital costs of building a dam high enough to provide adequate control would be prohibitive in terms of the resources likely to be available and there would be major social costs, in that several hundred people would be displaced by the reservoir and, apart from the social disruption that this would cause, it would be difficult and costly to provide land to resettle them. Furthermore, the secondary benefits were not considered very important, since access to water is not a problem in the area

    · The construction of levees would be almost as effective in terms of flood control and would have no social costs. The capital costs would still be high and there would be some recurrent costs in terms of maintaining the levees. However, the capital costs would be significantly less than for the dam and both capital and recurrent costs could be considerably reduced if community labour was used.

    · On-farm flood control measures would be the cheapest form of control, at least in terms of public expenditure, since the work would be done by individual farmers. One could also argue that it would have the benefit of giving the farmers more control over their own lives. However, it would be the least effective means of control, even if all farmers cooperated to the full, and if even a small number of farmers failed to adopt the measures, the impact would be very limited. Moreover, the labour costs to the farmers would be very high.

On the basis of these findings, the Task Force recommended that the DDC apply to the central Government for funds to assist in the construction of levees, on the understanding that the local communities would also make a contribution in terms of free labour. If this request failed, they would have to try the third option, but they were not confident about its success.

Box 7.3 lists the criteria which the Social Development Sub-Committee of the Gondwanaland District Development Committee (DDC) decided to use to ensure that social factors are taken into account in planning and prioritizing RDF projects. The criteria include the anticipated impact of the project on various social factors (including income, health, access to social services, inequalities between areas and households, and the position of women and any other disadvantaged groups), the relevance of the project to existing social policies (national or district), any social constraints which may hamper project implementation, and the degree of community participation in planning the project. Every application for RDF support is required to include information on all these issues. Since this list was designed to be applicable to any RDF application, it is a fairly comprehensive inventory of the kinds of social factors which need to be taken into consideration in project appraisal.

BOX 7.3


Box 4.1 (Chapter 4, page 74) described how the Gondwanaland District Development Committee established a Social Development Sub-Committee and decided that its first task should be to prepare a check-list of questions on the social impact of proposed Rural Development Fund (RDF) projects. These questions would be incorporated into the basic RDF application form and the information thus obtained would be used by the DDC to appraise and prioritize applications. Prior to this move, the appraisal of RDF projects had been based almost entirely on economic criteria.

The following, are the questions which the Sub-Committee decided to include:

· Social impact

    1. Approximately how many people are likely to: (i) benefit from the project; and (ii) suffer adverse effects from it?

    2. What positive and/or negative effects is the project likely to have on the following:

    (i) household income;

    (ii) health;

    (iii) access to social services;

    (iv) other aspects of the quality of life;

    (v) inequalities between different parts of the district;

    (vi) inequalities between households;

    (vii) position of women;

    (viii) position of any other disadvantaged group.

· Relevance to existing social policy

    3. Is the project either in line with or in conflict with any existing national or district policy on the social aspects of development? If so, give details.

    (Note: This question would be included in a general section on relevance to existing policy.)

· Possible social constraints

    4. Is project implementation likely to be:

    (i) hampered by religious or other cultural beliefs, practices, etc.; and/or

    (ii) 'hijacked' by elite groups?

    If so, give details and indicate what measures will be taken to reduce or eliminate these constraints.

    (Note: This question would be included in a general section on project implementability.)

· Popular participation

    5. To what extent have

    (i) local leaders and

    (ii) other members of the community been involved in the planning of the project?

    6. Is project implementation dependent on cooperative rather than individual effort? If so, give details and explain what steps have or win be taken to ensure that this is feasible.

7.3 Measuring social costs and benefits

The measurement of social costs and benefits is no more - and no less than a form of data collection. Consequently, the methods used, and the problems which tend to arise, are no different from those already discussed in Chapter 5. The best way to illustrate this is to take each of the three examples from Gondwanaland and consider how one would measure the costs and benefits in each case.

1. The Senda coal mine

Box 7.4 gives some indication of how the social impact study of the proposed Senda coal mine was undertaken. Since this was a large project, initiated by the central government rather than the district, the appraisal was commissioned by the central government and undertaken by a consultant with appropriate professional expertise. However, the methods of data collection and analysis used by the consultant were no different to those that might be used by district planners for local planning purposes. The main problem in doing this particular study at district level would be the fact that, because of the project's location, it was necessary to get data from three different districts.

Both primary and secondary data were collected. The main source of primary data was interviews with key people, including staff of the mining company, central and local government officials, and community leaders in the immediate vicinity of the mine site, while secondary data sources included published statistics (eg. census reports), government records, relevant literature and the consultant's own prior knowledge of the area and people.

The most difficult aspect of this sort of study is to predict how people will react to the proposed innovation. In this case, the consultant collected relevant information on existing economic and social factors (eg. unemployment, relevant qualifications or work experience, agricultural production, responses to other types of innovation) and asked officials and community leaders how they thought people would react. It was on this basis that she reached the conclusion that the main beneficiaries would not be the Hurda but people from further afield.

BOX 7.4


Box 7.1 described the terms of reference and findings of the social impact study of the proposed Senda coal mine. This box describes the type of data which was required for the study and the ways in which it was obtained.

Data requirements

· Information on the proposed coal mine, including its location, the amount of land which would be affected, the number and type of employees anticipated, the number of people who would be resident at the mine site, the proposed route(s) of the access road, and the social facilities to be provided at the site.

· Information on the number of Hurda in the immediate project area, their education and lifestyles, and their attitudes towards the proposed mine.

· Information on the number of people in Gondwanaland and neighbouring districts who would be likely to be affected in some way by the mine, their level of education and current employment status, their production of crops or other produce which might be saleable to the mine, and their likely attitudes to the mine.

· Information on the procedures regarding royalty payments and any other possible benefits likely to accrue to the local population.

· Information on the attitudes of the District Councils of the three districts affected.

· Information on the social costs and benefits of other projects of this kind, in New Kolonia and elsewhere, and any relevant attempts to maximize the benefits and/or reduce the costs.

Sources of data

(a) Secondary data

    · Reports of the 1988 Gondwanaland District Census and the 1990 National Population Census.

    · Records and reports from district offices of the Ministries of Agriculture and Natural Resources and Education.

    · Published books, articles and reports on the Hurda.

    · Published books, articles and reports on the social impact of similar projects, including other social impact studies.

    · The consultant's existing knowledge of the area

(b) Primary data

    · Interviews with officials of the mining company, Global Exploits.

    · Interviews with government and council officials and council chairpersons in the three districts.

    · Interviews with officers of the Ministry of Mines at national level.

    · Interviews with the councillors of the wards immediately affected by the mine.

    · Visits to three Hurda communities in the immediate vicinity of the mine, during which information on current lifestyles and attitudes to the proposed mine was obtained from meetings with both community leaders and ordinary people and from general observation.

2. Flood control in the Mvura valley

Box 7.5 describes how the information needed to compare the three possible methods of flood control was obtained. In this case, the appraisal was undertaken by the district, although it was necessary to involve a provincial representative of the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources because the ministry was not represented at district level. It should be noted that information on economic costs and benefits has been included in this example, in order to show how the final decision took account of both social and economic factors. The process of making such decisions is discussed in section 7.4.

Since in this kind of project appraisal one is comparing three different project proposals, three different sets of information are required. However, it is important that the three different sets are as far as possible comparable, since the purpose of the comparison is to decide which is the best way of achieving the project objective. In this case, the information needed on financial costs and effectiveness in terms of flood control was much the same for each option, thus facilitating both data collection and subsequent comparison. But the information needed on secondary benefits and social costs was more complex because both benefits and costs vary widely from one option to another. This complicates the process of data collection, because one has to ensure that all possible benefits and costs have been considered, and (as we shall see in section 7.4) it also makes it more difficult to compare the three options.

As in the coal mine study, both primary and secondary data were used. Primary data included information on the actual financial costs of construction and maintenance in all three options, the feasibility of resettling people displaced by the dam in option 1, and the likelihood of farmers adopting the individual flood control measures required in option 3. The third of these would probably be the most difficult to collect because again it involves predicting people's reactions. However, it is also one of the most important pieces of information, because the feasibility of option 3 is dependent on it. In this case, the information was collected by agricultural extension staff, using participant observation methods. Secondary data included experience with the three methods of flood control in other parts of the country, population data in the case of option 1, and general knowledge about farming systems and farmer attitudes in the area.

BOX 7.5


Box 7.2 described the three alternative methods of flood control in the Mvura valley which the Task Force considered and their findings regarding the costs and benefits of each. This box looks at the data which was needed to compare the three alternatives and the sources of this data

Data requirements

· Estimates of the financial costs of each alternative, including both capital and recurrent costs.

· Information on the likely effectiveness of each of the three alternatives in terms of flood control.

· Information on the area which would be flooded by the dam, the number of people who would have to be resettled, the cost and feasibility of resettling them, and their attitudes to the possibility of resettlement.

· Information on the possible use of the water from the dam for agricultural or other productive purposes.

· Information on the feasibility of using communal labour to help construct the levees, including the degree of skill involved, logistical implications, and the amount of labour which local communities would be willing to provide and the times that they would be able to provide it.

· Information on the feasibility of on-farm flood control measures by individual farmers, including the cost in terms of time to the farmers' their capacity and willingness to do the work, and the amount of supervision which would be required.

Sources of data

(a) Secondary data

    · Reports of the 1988 Gondwanaland District Census and the 1990 National Population Census.

    · Reports by the Ministries of Agriculture and Natural Resources and Energy and Water Resources on the costs and benefits of similar attempts at flood control lower down the Mvura river.

    · Preliminary information on farming systems in Zone I from the District Agricultural Officer's rapid rural appraisal of farming systems (see Box 5.6), which was by then nearing completion.

    · General knowledge of farmer attitudes and behaviour.

(b) Primary data

    · Collection of data on construction costs in order to estimate the financial costs of constructing and maintaining the dam and levees.

    · Interviews with the District Secretary and Council officials on the feasibility of resettlement.

    · Interviews with councillors from the area which would be flooded to assess their attitudes to the possibility of resettlement.

    · Interviews with councillors from all affected wards to assess their attitudes to: (i) the provision of labour for the construction and maintenance of levees; and (ii) the capacity and willingness of farmers to adopt on-farm control measures.

    · A visit to an area further down the river where an attempt had been made to organize farmers to adopt on-farm control measures.

3. Prioritization of RDF applications

Box 7.6 reproduces some guidelines issued by the Social Development Sub Committee to help people to provide the information required about the anticipated social implications of proposed RDF projects. The Sub Committee recognized that the people preparing the project applications would have neither the skills nor the time to undertake a comprehensive or detailed project appraisal. Their aim was merely to ensure that, firstly, social factors were given some consideration in the early stages of planning RDF projects and, secondly, there was sufficient information on social factors to enable them to be taken into account in prioritizing applications. Therefore, the emphasis is on simple information, which can be obtained quickly and easily, either from secondary sources or by a very rudimentary form of primary data collection. In some cases, it is not actually necessary to collect data to 'prove' that an anticipated cost or benefit is likely to occur because its occurence is widely accepted as part of general knowledge about rural development. For example, in the case of rural water supplies, it can be assumed that the provision of an improved supply will have a positive impact on health, provided that basic principles of hygiene are practiced and the supply is kept in good working order.

BOX 7.6


The Social Development Sub-Committee of the Gondwanaland DDC issued the following guidelines to help people answer the questions on the social implications of proposed Rural Development Projects reproduced in Box 7.3.

· Social impact

    Qu. 1: Identify the area likely to be affected by the project and then use data from the 1988 District Census or the 1990 National Census to estimate the total number of people involved. Then make a rough estimate of the number of these likely to benefit positively and negatively; it will probably be easier to do this after answering Qu.2.

    Qu. 2: It is not necessary to give precise answers to this question. It should be possible to answer most sections from your general knowledge of the type of project concerned and the project area. However, in some cases, you may need to do some simple research (eg. look for information on other similar projects; interview appropriate people in the project area to find out about existing conditions; collect information from district level to compare the project area with other parts of the district). Look out for indications of less obvious effects or 'side effects'

· Relevance to existing policies

    Qu. 3: Refer to the Fourth National Five-Year Development Plan and the 1992-97 Gondwanaland District Five-Year Plan for information on existing policies.

Possible social constraints

    Qu. 4: Your general knowledge of the project area should enable you to answer this question. If it does not, talk to other people who are familiar with the area and/or have undertaken similar projects there. It is essential to think about these constraints before the project starts, rather than afterwards. Bear in mind that the way in which you involve the local community can increase or decrease the likelihood of such problems. For example, if you discuss the project design in detail with those involved, you are likely to uncover many of the cultural constraints; and if you involve as many people as possible, not just the obvious leaders, the project is less likely to be 'hijacked' Hence the importance of Qu.5 below.

· Popular participation

    Qu. 5: Remember that extensive consultation is necessary to ensure that the project is designed to meet local needs and conditions, to identify any likely constraints (see Qu.4 above), and to ensure that people are committed to it. It is important to involve all those sectors of the community likely to be affected, and to make a special effort to involve disadvantaged groups or those whose views win not be represented by local leaders.

    Qu. 6: If the project involves cooperative effort, look for examples of existing cooperative activity (traditional or introduced) in the project area, or of similar cooperative projects in other areas, in order to identify likely problems and possible ways of tackling them.

In conclusion, it should be noted that, although this chapter is concerned primarily with the appraisal of project proposals, the measurement of social costs and benefits is also part of the process of project evaluation. The difference, of course, is that when it comes to evaluation one is concerned with actual costs and benefits, while at the appraisal stage one can do no more than anticipate the costs and benefits which are likely to occur. Ideally, the two stages should be related. Thus the initial project appraisal should provide baseline data from which to later evaluate the impact and indicate the types of costs and benefits which should be considered in the evaluation stage, while the project evaluation should indicate the extent to which the anticipated costs and benefits actually occurred.

7.4 Comparing social and economic costs and benefits

Once the anticipated social costs and benefits of a proposed project or programme have been assessed, they have to be compared with other costs and benefits, and in particular with the economic costs and benefits which generally constitute the 'core' of a project appraisal exercise. This is often the most difficult part of social impact assessment, and (as already indicated) it is one of the reasons why the social implications of a project or programme are often ignored.

Integrating social and economic appraisal data

The integration of social and economic appraisal data does not always present a problem. It all depends on the form in which the data on social costs and benefits is presented. Economic data is normally presented in monetary terms, the aim being to compare the monetary costs and benefits of the proposed project or programme. Some kinds of social data are normally presented in monetary form, thus enabling direct comparisons to be made; moreover, in some cases the same data can be used to indicate both social and economic costs or benefits. The most obvious example is data on household income, which is an important economic indicator in its own right but also indicates potential social effects, since any increase in income may be used to achieve social benefits. In this case, information on actual and potential household expenditure patterns is really needed to assess both the economic and the social implications of an increase (or decrease) in household income.

However, many kinds of social data are not normally presented in monetary form and so cannot be easily incorporated into a conventional economic cost-benefit analysis. There are then two main options available to the planner.

Conversion of social data into monetary terms

One option is to convert the social data into monetary terms. Let us take the example of flood control in the Mvura Valley described in Box 7.2 on page 151 and 152. In order to justify any sort of flood control measures it would be necessary to assess the benefits gained by controlling flooding. In this case, the benefits would be the savings in terms of the crops and property which would frequently have been destroyed by flooding and the lives which would occasionally have been lost.

Preventing the destruction of crops and property obviously has economic benefits, the monetary value of which may be calculated on the basis of the potential sale value of the crops and the replacement value of the property. The economic benefits of preventing the loss of life are somewhat more obscure. Nevertheless, economists often try to calculate the monetary value of saving lives on the basis of a combination of the loss of future productive labour (which may be calculated in terms of average wage rates) and the waste of previous investment in the persons concerned (for example, in the form of education). On this basis, the most 'valuable' people are those who have completed tertiary education and are about to start work.

However, in both cases there are also social benefits. Thus one can argue that the destruction of crops and property causes social distress as well as financial loss, and it is widely accepted that saving lives has certain 'non-economic' benefits which have to be taken into consideration. Although it is impossible to assess the value of these benefits in precise monetary terms, one can increase the estimated monetary value of the economic benefits by an amount which reflects their importance. This practice is frequently adopted in courts of law when calculating the amount of compensation which should be paid in cases of loss of life or property.

This example demonstrates two important points about this sort of cost-benefit analysis. One is the complex inter-relationship between economic and social costs or benefits. In examples like this it becomes difficult to distinguish between the two - a point which economists sometimes use to argue that all significant costs and benefits can be reduced to monetary terms if necessary. The other, and perhaps more important, point is that so many assumptions are made in calculating the monetary value of both the economic and the social costs and benefits, that any conclusions drawn from the data have to be treated very cautiously. In other words, it is not only social data which is difficult to express accurately in monetary terms. For this reason, it is not uncommon for two (or more) economic appraisals of a proposed project to reach very different conclusions about the project's feasibility because they have taken account of different factors and/or attached different monetary values to those factors.

Accounting for different criteria in vestment decisions

The alternative way of dealing with social data which is not normally presented in monetary form - and with economic data which is difficult to express accurately in monetary terms - is to broaden the basis of the project appraisal. Instead of trying to reduce all costs and benefits to monetary values, only those which can be easily and accurately expressed in this way are included in the financial cost-benefit analysis. The other costs and benefits are then presented as additional data which must also be taken into consideration when determining the feasibility of the project or programme concerned. In other words, investment decisions are made on the basis of a number of different criteria, of which financial viability is one - but not the only one. This is generally the most practicable approach for district planning purposes, since district planners seldom have the data, time or skills needed to undertake the type of complex economic analysis discussed above. Moreover, because of the many assumptions which have to be made in such analyses, it is often also the most accurate method. It is the approach adopted in the three examples described in Boxes 7.1-7.3.

The main problem associated with this approach is that one still has to decide how much importance, or 'weight' to attach to each kind of data. There is no standard system of weighting which can be used. For example, it is not possible to say that social factors should always be given more or less importance than economic factors, or that any particular social or economic factor is always more important than another. It is necessary to look at each case (or set of cases) individually, and in each one to decide how much importance should be attached to each criteria.

The decision will depend partly on practical factors. For example, if the funds available for investment are limited or if the project must break even financially, one could not consider a project which would cost more or make a loss, even if it would have enormous economic or social benefit. Similarly, if a project is likely to be financially profitable but to cause serious social or political disruption, it will probably also be rejected. This is illustrated by the example of flood control described in Box 7.2. In this example, the dam would be the most effective means of flood control but it was rejected because it was both prohibitively expensive and likely to cause an unacceptable degree of social disruption.

Policy to guide decision- making

However, in many cases the decision is not so obvious, and will depend on the relative importance attached to the various criteria by the people making the decision. For example, in the case of the Senda coal mine described in Box 7.1, the decision on whether or not to go ahead with the mine will depend on the importance which those making the decisions attach to the social needs and rights of the Hurda. In such cases, it is useful to have some sort of policy or strategy to guide decision-making. This is why, in the prioritization of RDF projects described in Box 7.3, one of the questions which applicants are required to answer is whether the project is in line with national or district policy. Without such policies, decisions will depend very much on the personal whims or ideological persuasions of those making the decisions - or on personal political interests, a factor which will be considered in the last section of this chapter. In the case of the Senda coal mine, the project will probably go ahead if it is financially viable, since (like all countries engaged in structural adjustment programmes) New Kolonia is likely to give high priority to productive projects such as this, especially if, as in this case, the social costs only affect a small minority of the population.

Example of criteria for project prioritization

It is also possible to have a more general policy on the relative importance of the various factors involved which can be applied to a number of projects, provided that these projects are sufficiently similar to apply the same criteria to each. Box 7.7 illustrates this. It describes the system introduced by the Gondwanaland DDC to prioritize RDF applications. In this example, eight kinds of factors are included: financial viability, economic impact, social impact, environmental impact, relevance to existing policy, implementation constraints, popular participation, and political implications. Each project is given a score for each, using the information on the application forms; these scores are then weighted on the basis of a predetermined formula which indicates the relative importance of the various factors; and the final project scores are then calculated and the projects ranked accordingly.

Finally, it should be noted that if, for whatever reason, a decision is based on economic rather than social criteria, it may still be possible to mitigate the undesirable social consequences. This is presumably why in the case of the coal mine the social consultant was asked to recommend how the project might be implemented in a way that would maximize social benefits and reduce social costs. Her recommendations suggest how this can be done.

BOX 7.7


When the Gondwanaland District Development Committee introduced social as well as economic criteria for appraising Rural Development Fund applications (see Box 7.3), it became necessary to introduce a system for prioritizing applications according to the various different criteria The system they adopted has three main components:

1. The criteria

They decided that prioritization would be based on the following eight factors or criteria:

    1. Financial viability

    2. Economic impact

    3. Social impact

    4. Environmental impact

    5. Relevance to existing policy

    6. Implementation constraints

    7. Popular participation

    8. Political implications.

2. The weighting system

It was necessary to decide whether all the criteria were equally important. After much heated debate it was decided that two of them were more important than the others. These were financial viability and implementation constraints. They were selected because it was felt that there was no point in approving a project which was not financially viable, or one in which there were so many constraints that it was not implementable. These two criteria are therefore given a double weighting.

3. The scoring system

Finally, there has to be a system for giving a 'score' to each project application on the basis of the weighted criteria, so that they can actually be prioritized. The system adopted involves four stages:

    · Each project is awarded a score on a scale of I to 10 for each of the eight criteria, using the information on the applications forms.

    · The scores for financial viability and implementation constraints are doubled to reflect their additional importance.

    · The total score for each project is added, the maximum possible score being 100.

    · All projects are ranked in order of priority on the basis of their total scores.

7.5 The politics of project appraisal

Project appraisal is, like any other aspect of planning, subject to political influence. In fact, the most blatant forms of political influence tend to involve decisions about project prioritization, since projects are the most visible way in which politicians can demonstrate their power and prove their worth to their constituents. Some readers of these Guidelines may even feel that there is little point in thinking about ways of appraising economic, social or any other costs and benefits, since decisions are almost inevitably made on a political basis. They might argue that in the case of the Senda coal mine, for example, there is no point in even considering ways of mitigating the social impact on the Hurda people, since no national or district politicians are concerned about what happens to the Hurda. Similarly, they might suggest that the Gondwanaland DDC is wasting time collecting and analyzing all this information on proposed RDF applications because the final decisions are made by the District Council primarily or entirely on a political basis.

Although such feelings are understandable, they are not entirely justifiable in most situations. Although political factors will inevitably play a major part in determining which projects go ahead and which do not, this does not mean that there is no point in considering other factors. If planners make recommendations on the basis of these other factors, it is more difficult for the politicians to justify the decisions which they would like to make and, if they still insist on making such decisions, the basis of their choice is more obvious to the general public than it would otherwise have been - and the planners are less likely to be blamed. For example, in the Senda case, the social consultant's recommendations will make it more difficult for the central government to ignore the plight of the Hurda entirely, or for the District Council to spend all the royalties from the mine in other parts of the district, than would otherwise have been the case. And the prioritization of RDF projects by the DDC will make it harder for councillors to allocate funds purely on a political basis.

Furthermore, planners can go one step further and take account of political considerations themselves. If they do so, there is less chance of their recommendations being totally disregarded. This is why the Gondwanaland DDC included political implications as one of the criteria to be used in prioritizing projects. Moreover, the planners may even be able to influence the politicians by pointing out political implications which they had not considered or adopting bargaining tactics. For example, in the Senda case, the social consultant attempted to get the cooperation of the District Council by recommending that the rate of royalty payment be increased to compensate for the social costs of the project provided that the Council spent a certain proportion of the amount in Zone V. In other words, planners should, as recommended in Chapters 3 and 4, accept the reality of political influence and plan accordingly.



Bridger, G.A. & J.T. Winpenny, Planning Development Projects, London, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, for Overseas Development Administration, 1983. A practical guide to project appraisal in less developed countries, which focuses primarily but not entirely on the economic aspects; includes chapters on specific sectors.

Carley, M. & E. Derow, Social Impact Assessment, London, Policy Studies Institute, 1980. A useful introduction and guide to the early literature on social impact assessment, relevant to both the appraisal and evaluation stages of project planning. Includes a short chapter on the Third World.

Cochrane, G., The Cultural Appraisal of Development Projects, New York, Praeger, 1979. Focuses particularly on the cultural aspects of project appraisal; demonstrates the importance of cultural factors and explains how to incorporate them into project appraisal and design.

FAO, Guide for Training in the Formulation of Agricultural and Rural Investment Projects, Rome, 1986. A comprehensive guide to all aspects of project planning, divided into six volumes: Introduction; Preparation; Reconnaissance; Project Design; Analysis; and Documentation. The volume on Analysis is concerned specifically with project appraisal and includes a brief section on social appraisal.

Chapter 8 Planning for the disadvantaged

This chapter looks specifically at planning to improve the status of those sectors of a district's population that are in some way or other disadvantaged. It is divided into five main sections. The first section makes some general points about this sort of planning, which are then illustrated in the remaining sections by looking at four specific types of disadvantaged people - the poor, the land hungry, women and ethnic minorities. Each section examines three aspects of the subject: identifying those who are disadvantaged, analyzing the reasons why they are disadvantaged, and finding ways of improving their position.

8.1 General issues

One of the most important roles of social planning is to look at the needs of those sectors of the population that suffer some form of disadvantage, with the aim of improving their status in some way or other. These needs are likely to be ignored unless planners make a specific effort to identify and address them because one of the characteristics of disadvantaged groups is that they have little or no political power and so no means of expressing their needs that is, no 'voice'. This section of the chapter examines the general principles behind this sort of planning. These are then illustrated in subsequent sections, which look in more detail at particular types of disadvantage.

Who are the disadvantaged?

A 'disadvantaged' person is one who is in a worse position than the majority of the population. There are many different ways in which someone can be disadvantaged, and therefore many different kinds of disadvantaged people. They include:

It should be apparent from the above list that there is considerable overlap between the various forms of disadvantage. In other words, people who are disadvantaged in one way are often also disadvantaged in other ways. There is a particularly close relationship between poverty and other forms of disadvantage, to the extent that someone who is disadvantaged in any other way is very likely also to be poorer than he or she would otherwise be. Similarly, there is often a degree of overlap between the last three types of disadvantage, in that ethnic minorities tend also to be religious or cultural minorities and often live in less affluent regions or neighbourhoods. An obvious example of such a case is the Hurda in Gondwanaland District. The reasons for such overlap will be explored later.

The relative importance of the various forms of disadvantage varies from one district to another - and from one country to another. It is therefore necessary for planners at district level to consider which warrant attention in their particular area. In some cases, the need may be fairly obvious. For example, the need to address poverty is likely to arise in all districts, although the severity of the problem varies from place to place, and over time. Similarly, in most districts there are certain specific forms of disadvantage which are well known to anyone involved in the development of the district. In the case of Gondwanaland, for example, the basic information in the Annex to Chapter 2 is enough to indicate two specific forms of disadvantage: land hunger in Zone III and the position of the Hurda in Zone V.

However, it is not always so easy to identify disadvantaged groups, since as already indicated - they seldom have a 'voice'. It is particularly difficult if the group is geographically dispersed and so less 'visible'. This is the case with women, whose problems are seldom recognized unless they form some kind of organization to represent their interests. It is therefore important that planners look for the less obvious forms of disadvantage as well as addressing the obvious problems. The above list can be used as a checklist to indicate possible forms of disadvantage which may exist. The subsequent sections of this chapter examine methods of planning to meet the needs of four disadvantaged groups - the poor, the land hungry, women and ethnic minorities - which are likely to be found in many districts but present different kinds of methodological issues and problems.

Why are they disadvantaged??

It is important to know why a particular group of people is disadvantaged because one cannot seek solutions unless one understands the nature of the problem. There are many different causal factors and it is useful to subdivide them in two ways: by level and by type.

Causal factors

In terms of level, they may be sub-divided into the following categories: personal, household, local, regional, national and international. For example, a disabled person is disadvantaged primarily because of his or her personal disability, although the amount of support received from the household or local community in which he or she lives, and/or from the national government, are also important factors. Similarly, someone who lives in a disadvantaged region is disadvantaged because of the particular characteristics of that region and/or national policy on regional development. And someone who is unemployed because of retrenchments due to a structural adjustment programme is disadvantaged primarily because of national and international economic policies. It is important to identify these different levels in order to determine the level at which action needs to be taken to address the problem. One of the main problems facing district planners is that many of the causes of disadvantage lie at national or international level, and are thus beyond their control. The implications of this will be considered later.

On the basis of type, causal factors may be sub-divided into physical, economic, social/cultural and political categories - or any subdivisions of these. Thus, for example, personal disability, gender and the natural resource base of a disadvantaged region may be regarded as physical factors, while national and international economic policies are obviously economic in nature, traditional cultural practices which treat women as inferior are social, and discrimination against minority ethnic groups by local or national governments is political. Categorizing factors in this way helps to identify how much scope there is for corrective action and what form this action should take.

The analysis is complicated by the fact that most forms of disadvantage are caused by more than one factor and the various factors are often interrelated in a complex manner. Thus, as indicated in one of the examples used above, the extent to which a disabled person is actually disadvantaged depends not only on his or her personal disability, but also on the attitudes of his or her family, local community and government towards disabled people. Furthermore, the various forms of disadvantage tend to reinforce each other.

Thus, to use the example of disability again, a disabled person who lives in a poor household in a deprived region of a poor country is likely to be considerably worse off than someone with the same disability who comes from a wealthy family in a prosperous area of a rich country. This explains the degree of overlap noted earlier between different forms of disadvantage, and in particular between poverty and the others. It also helps to explain why disadvantaged people often find themselves locked in a vicious circle of increasing deprivation and disadvantage, as described in Chapter 3 (section 3.4).

Identification of causal factors

How can district planners identify these various causal factors and their interrelationships? As with any other form of data, they will probably have to use a combination of primary and secondary sources. Secondary data, such as reports of previous surveys and general knowledge about the district, should provide much of the information required. But this may have to be supplemented by special studies, especially case studies and detailed discussions with disadvantaged people themselves, since in this case the main need is for qualitative rather than quantitative data, in order to understand the realities and complexities of the situation. This will be illustrated by the case studies of specific types of disadvantage in the later sections.

It is particularly important to identify the more subtle causal factors. There is a tendency to focus on the more obvious factors, thereby ignoring others which may actually have a more significant effect. This tendency often results in an overemphasis on personal factors rather than those of a broader societal nature, and on physical and economic factors rather than the more nebulous social/cultural and political ones. Thus, in the case of the disabled person, the personal physical disability is the most obvious factor, but the various other family and societal factors, which are economic, social and political in nature, may be equally if not more important.

It is also important to beware of broad generalizations (or 'stereotypes') based on inadequate or biased observations, especially when they lay the blame on the disadvantaged people themselves rather than broader societal forces. Statements like 'poor people are poor because they are lazy', 'farmers do not maximize their income because they are conservative' and 'the people in this region are poor because they have no interest in the commercial economy' should always be treated sceptically. More detailed investigations will inevitably reveal a much more complex situation, and one is which the individual's behaviour is often the result of other causal factors rather than the main cause of the problem.

How can their position be improved ?

Unfortunately there is usually no easy way of improving the position of disadvantaged people. There are two main reasons for this. On is the complex and cumulative nature of the problem, which means that it has to be tackled on several different fronts at the same time. The other is the fact that many causal factors are beyond the control of those seeking solutions. This includes, on the one hand, many physical factors which have to be accepted as given, and on the other hand, the more subtle social/cultural and political factors over which the average planner has little or no influence. It is particularly difficult at district level, because (as indicated earlier) many of the causal factors operate at national or international level and so are beyond the direct control of people at district level.

However, this does not mean that nothing can be done. We conclude this section by suggesting some broad guidelines which district planners may apply when trying to improve the position of any type of disadvanted group. These guidelines are as follows:

The application of these general guidelines to specific kinds of disadvantage is illustrated in the following sections of this chapter.

8.2 Planning for the poor

Poverty is in many respects the most fundamental form of disadvantage because, as indicated in the previous section, it is both the result and the cause of many other forms of disadvantage. This section relates the general principles discussed in section 8.1 to the specific case of planning to improve the position of the poor. Box 8.1, which describes how Gondwanaland District's Social Development Sub-Committee devised a strategy for tackling the problem of poverty in the district, illustrates the points made in the section.

Who are the poor?

Poverty is generally measured in terms of income or consumption. In either case, it is important that allowance is made for inputs in both cash and kind, especially in rural areas, where a large proportion of production is used for subsistence purposes. The basic unit of measurement is usually the household, since the household generally constitutes a unit for purposes of both production and consumption. However, for some purposes other units of measurement may be applicable. For example, if one is concerned about poverty among women, it is necessary to look at the division of resources between men and women within the household. And if the main concern is with inequalities between regions and/or ethnic groups (as in the case of the Hurda), it may be appropriate to aggregate the household data on a regional or ethnic basis.

BOX 8.1



Box 4.1 described how Gondwanaland District established a Social Development Sub-Committee and Box 7.3 described how the Sub-Committee tackled its first task which was to establish social criteria for appraising Rural Development Fund applications. Having done this, the Sub-Committee decided to focus its attention on the problem of increasing poverty in the district. The need to address this issue arose from a number of concerns, including:

    · the need to alleviate poverty in order to improve nutrition (see Box 6.1);

    · the relationship between poverty and land shortage in Zone III, which was revealed by the fanning systems survey described in Box 5.6; and

    · the obvious increase in poverty due to the country's structural adjustment programme, which was introduced in 1991.

The Sub-Committee decided to hold a one-day workshop to analyze the nature and causes of poverty and formulate some sort of strategy for tackling it. The workshop was attended by the heads of relevant central and local government departments, selected councillors, and representatives from the main NGOs operating in the district. Each participant was asked to bring to the workshop any information he or site had on the incidence of poverty and any ideas about ways of reducing it.

The nature and causes of poverty

The workshop reached two main conclusions about the nature and causes of poverty:

· The structural adjustment programme has undoubtedly created hardship for a large proportion of the district's population and increased the number of people who are unable to maintain an adequate standard of living. The main reasons for this are that it has increased the cost of living (due to inflation, the removal of subsidies and price controls on basic commodities, and increases in charges for basic services, including education and health), reduced the real value of wages (which have not kept pace with inflation), and increased unemployment.

· Four main groups appear to be most seriously afflicted by poverty. They are:

    1) About 20% of households in Zone III who do not have enough land to earn a living, due to the general shortage of land in the area and inequality in its distribution.

    2) Households headed by women (especially widows), who do not have sufficient labour to cultivate enough land and lack respect or influence in the local community.

    3) Urban households with no wage-earners, who have to survive by engaging in informal sector activities or begging.

    4) The majority of Hurda households, who are discouraged from participating in the cash economy by their inhospitable physical environment, their cultural traditions and discrimination by other ethnic groups.

Strategies for alleviating poverty

The following strategies for tackling the problem of poverty in the district were proposed by the workshop and later endorsed by the District Development Committee:

· The impact of all proposed RDF projects on poverty and inequality would be noted, using the criteria already established by the Social Development Sub-Committee (see Box 7.3), and taken into account when prioritizing project applications.

· Specific strategies would be formulated for tackling the problems of each of the four most deprived groups, as follows:

    1) The problem of land hunger in Zone III would be addressed by the District Agricultural Officer. Box 8.2 describes how this was done.

    2) The problem of women-headed households would be refered a local NGO, the Gondwanaland Women's

    Action Group. Boxes 8.3 and 9.1 describe what action the Group took.

    3) A national NGO, called Jobs for the People, would be invited to establish, in conjunction with the District Council, an advice centre in Gondwana town for unemployed people wishing to engage in small-scale or informal business activities.

    4) The DDC would reactivate the proposed integrated development project for the Hurda area, which had been sabotaged by politicians in 1988 (see Box 3.4). Box 8.4 describes the revised project proposal.

· The Social Development Sub-Committee would liaise with those NGOs able to provide charitable assistance to destitute people in order to help identify those most in need.

· The report of the workshop would be sent to the national committee responsible for monitoring the social impact of structural adjustment, in the hope that the district's concerns would be noted.

"Poverty line"

In order to identify 'the poor' as a focus of attention in planning it is necessary to ask the question: how poor does one have to be in order to be classified as 'poor' for planning purposes? In other words, it is necessary to distinguish between different degrees of poverty and decide which degree, or level, is critical. This critical level, which is called the 'poverty line', is usually determined on the basis of the level of income or consumption necessary to maintain what is considered to be an 'adequate' standard of living. Some countries have an official poverty line, which is used as the basis for identifying the poor and measuring the extent of poverty.

Absolute and relative poverty

It is also important to distinguish between absolute and relative poverty. Absolute poverty is measured in terms of the actual level of income or consumption and the poverty line is thus expressed in terms of a specific amount of money. Relative poverty, on the other hand, is measured in terms of the difference between the actual level of income or consumption and the average level and the poverty line is thus expressed as a certain percentage of this average. Absolute poverty therefore measures the actual degree of hardship, while relative poverty measures the degree of inequality. Although they are both important indicators of social problems, their implications are different and they are not necessarily directly related. For example, it is possible - and in fact quite common - for absolute poverty to decrease while relative poverty increases.

The distinction between absolute and relative poverty has wider policy implications, since the relative importance attached to inequality (and thus to relative poverty) is one of the main criteria used to distinguish between different social policies and political ideologies, including 'capitalism' and 'socialism'. In this respect, it is perhaps significant to note that, while the World Bank and IMF have become increasingly concerned about the impact of structural adjustment programmes on absolute poverty, they have so far ignored their implications in terms of relative poverty.

Information on degree and extent of poverty

The main problem for planners at district level is to get basic information on the degree and extent of poverty, either absolute or relative. Ideally one requires detailed and carefully planned sample household surveys, but the resources required for such surveys are seldom available at district level. Planners therefore have to make the best of whatever information they can get, including any existing household surveys, general knowledge about the area and rapid appraisal methods. Thus, in the example from Gondwanaland described in Box 8.1, the District Social Development Sub-Committee used information from existing surveys (including the survey of farming systems using rapid appraisal methods described in Box 5.6) and general knowledge gleaned at a special one-day workshop. In situations where poverty is closely related to some particular causal factor, it may be easier to obtain information on the causal factor and use this as an approximate indicator of poverty. For example, in the case of Gondwanaland, it was established that land shortage was one of the main causes of poverty, and so information on land availability from the farming systems survey was used as an indicator of poverty.

Why are they poor?

Poverty is usually caused by a complex and cumulative interrelationship of a number of different factors, including other forms of disadvantage. All the different levels and types of factors discussed in section 8.1 have an impact on poverty. However, societal factors generally have a greater influence than individual characteristics, with national and international policies often playing a major role. And economic and political factors tend to be more important than physical and social, although physical factors often determine the limits within which the other factors operate.

These broad generalizations can best be illustrated by looking at the case of Gondwanaland described in Box 8.1. There it was found that, firstly, there had been a general increase in poverty as a result of structural adjustment (due to a combination of inflation, decline in the real value of wages, increased unemployment, and increases in charges for social services) and, secondly, that there were four types of household which were most seriously affected, notably:

This already indicates the immediate or primary causal factors. However, it is also necessary to explore the underlying or secondary causes. In other words, one must ask: why is there a land shortage? why are some households headed by women? why is there unemployment in urban areas? why are the Hurda poorer than other ethnic groups? In most cases, the answers are complex. For example, urban unemployment in Gondwanaland is due to a combination of rural-urban migration, inappropriate education, the limited scope for non-agricultural production, and retrenchment due to structural adjustment. Similarly, the Hurda are poor because of a combination of the inhospitable physical environment, cultural tradition and ethnic discrimination.

How does one obtain this sort of information? Ideally one requires detailed case studies of poor people, in order to understand the reality of their situations. However, if this is not possible, reasonably accurate information can usually be obtained from existing general knowledge and a limited number of interviews either with poor people themselves or with people who are familiar with their situations. Thus, in the case of Gondwanaland, the one-day workshop was used as a means of extracting as much information as possible.

How can their position be improved?

It is not easy to tackle the problem of poverty, especially at district level, since many of the causal factors - and therefore also the possible solutions are beyond the scope of planners at district level. However, there are a number of measures that can be taken. In particular:

Box 8.1 describes how the Gondwanaland District Development Committee adopted measures such as these to try to tackle the problem of poverty in the district.

8.3 Planning for the land hungry

Land shortage is one of the most common forms of disadvantage in rural areas, and (as indicated in previous sections) one of the major causes of rural poverty. This section looks specifically at methods of planning to tackle this particular form of disadvantage and Box 8.2 illustrates the points made by describing how Gondwanaland District approached the problem of land shortage in Zone III of the district.

BOX 8.2



The district farming systems survey undertaken by the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources (see Box 5.6) indicated that as much as 20% of households in Zone III do not have enough land to earn an adequate living. The areas worst affected are in the southern part of the zone, near the forest reserve. The District Agricultural Officer was concerned about this and raised it at the district workshop on poverty organized by the Social Development Sub-Committee (see Box 8.1). The workshop referred the problem back to the DAO, who agreed to find out more about the causes of land shortage and suggest ways of alleviating the problem. In order to do this, he organized a meeting of all agricultural extension workers in Zone III and sought their views.

The causes of land shortage

There appeared to be five main - and interrelated - causal factors:

    · the high population density in the area;

    · the large numbers of livestock;

    · the considerable proportion of land unsuitable for agricultural purposes because of the hilly terrain;

    · the relatively inefficient land management systems practiced in the area, including extensive methods of cultivation and grazing; and

    · the breakdown of the traditional Wana land tenure system (due in large part to the expansion of coffee production), resulting in the subdivision of land into uneconomic holdings and increased inequality in the size of holdings.

Strategies for tackling the problem

There was much discussion at the meeting about alternative strategies. Eventually, however, it was decided to concentrate on two main strategies:

    · There would be a major effort to encourage more intensive methods of cultivation and livestock rearing, including inter-cropping, terracing, improved irrigation, fencing of paddocks, supplementary feeding of livestock, and the use of manure for fertilizer. It was recognized that this would not be easy to do, since it would involve major changes in traditional farming systems. However, the DAO was encouraged by the fact that in some of the villages most affected by land shortage, people were already beginning to introduce such measures and were keen to learn about other ways of intensifying their farming systems. The project would begin in these villages and, if it proved successful, they would then be used to demonstrate the potential benefits to other villages.

    · It was decided to approach the National Forestry Commission to discuss the possibility of allowing those villages near the forest reserve to legitimately cut and sell timber as an additional form of income and to graze a limited number of livestock in the forest. This would require very careful management, in order to ensure that the timber was not exploited faster than it could be regenerated. And it would take some persuasion to convince the Forestry Commission to agree. However, a precedent had already been set in another forest reserve in the southeastern part of the country, where a similar 'community forestry' project had recently been established.

It was also agreed that family planning is important as a long-term measure to curb population growth. However, after consultations with the Ministry of Health, it was decided that little more could be done to accelerate the existing family planning programme.

Who are the land hungry?

The term 'land hungry' is used here to describe rural households which do not have access to enough land to earn a basic living (including those with no land at all) and do not have any other regular source of income. Such households supplement whatever income they do get from land by various means, including working as casual labourers for other farmers, engaging in informal sector activities, borrowing from money-lenders, depending on friends or relatives, and begging. It should, however, be noted that it is sometimes difficult to tell whether a household is engaged in such activities only because it cannot make a living from the land, or whether it is doing so by choice and thus not really suffering from 'land hunger'.

In order to measure the extent of land hunger and identify those who are most affected, it is necessary first to know roughly how much land is required to earn a basic living in a particular agroeconomic system. This information, which can be obtained from farm management surveys, on-farm research or rapid appraisal methods, is often already available in district agricultural offices. In the case of Gondwanaland described in Box 8.2, for example, the District Agricultural Officer already had sufficient information on the minimum viable farm size in each zone from the 1991 National Sample Agricultural Survey and on-farm research by his Ministry.

Having got this information, the next step is to find out how many households have access to less than the minimum amount of land. This is more difficult to do, since it requires fairly detailed information from a large number of households, which can best be obtained from a full household census or at least a fairly large sample household survey. However, in most districts it is possible to get a general indication of the extent and nature of the problem from general knowledge and rapid appraisal methods. Thus, in the case of Gondwanaland, the information on farming systems obtained by rapid appraisal methods (see Box 5.6) was used.

Why are they short of land?

Land hunger occurs in two main kinds of situation: in areas where there is a general shortage of land and in those where there are major inequalities in access to land. In the first case, the main problem is that of imbalance between land and people. This in turn may be due to one or more different factors, including the amount of usable land, the density of population, the number of livestock, the land tenure system, and the intensity of land use. In the second case, the problem is one of land distribution rather than land availability. Inequalities in access to land can occur for various reasons, including land tenure systems, the value of land as a productive asset, and the relationship between land ownership and other forms of economic wealth or political power. There is a tendency for inequalities to increase, especially when the productive value of land is relatively high, because those with most land use it to generate wealth which is then used to acquire more land, while those with least land cannot earn enough to live and thus are often forced to sell (or relinguish their rights to) the little land they do have.

In many cases one finds a combination of both situations. In Gondwanaland, for example, it was found that the main problem of land hunger is in Zone III, where there is both a general shortage of land and increasing inequality in its distribution. The general land shortage is due to a combination of the rugged terrain, high population densities, large numbers of livestock, relatively inefficient methods of land use, and increasing subdivision of land owing to the breakdown of the traditional communal system of land tenure. And the increasing inequality is due primarily to the expansion of coffee production, which has enhanced the productive value of land and accelerated the transition from communal to individual land tenure.

As with other forms of disadvantage, a detailed knowledge of the local situation is necessary in order to understand these causal patterns. In most districts - as in Gondwanaland - this can be obtained from a combination of existing surveys or studies and the general knowledge of extension workers or others familiar with the locality. If necessary, this can be supplemented by visiting selected villages and discussing the problem with those most affected by land shortage.

How can their position be unproved?

There are various ways of tackling the problem of land hunger. These include:

The relevance of each of these strategies varies from place to place, depending on the cause of land hunger and the feasibility of the strategy in that particular situation.

However, there are problems associated with all the strategies. Moreover, some of them - such as controlling land tenure and large-scale resettlement are generally beyond the scope of district planning, since they require national policy decisions and/or large amounts of resources. For district planners, the most feasible measures are likely to be the intensification of land use and the facilitation of alternative income-earning opportunities, with the promotion of family planning possibly as a long-term measure which can do no more than prevent the situation from getting much worse but has other benefits associated with it. Box 8.2 describes how Gondwanaland adopted strategies along these lines.

8.4 Planning for women

The need to give special attention to the role of women in rural development planning, in order to improve their status and ensure that they benefit fully from development activities, has been widely recognized for many years. This section of the chapter looks at ways of doing this at district level, drawing on the example of the Gondwanaland Women's Action Group, which is described in Box 8.3.

Are women disadvantaged??

The identification of women (and girls) as a disadvantaged group is rather different from that of identifying the poor or land hungry because they constitute approximately half the population and their disadvantage is based on gender, which is a physical characteristic which cannot normally be changed. It is therefore necessary to consider in what ways women are disadvantaged and whether all women are disadvantaged.

Women are generally regarded as being disadvantaged because in almost all societies there is a tendency for men to have a higher economic, social and political status than women and to use this status to reinforce their own position at the expense of women. This is particularly likely to be the case in the rural areas of 'less developed' countries. Although customs vary from one society to another, it is usual for women to do a large part of the agricultural work as well as all the household chores and yet for men to take control over the income from most cash crops and make most family decisions. Similarly, women are seldom expected to play a public role in the community, less likely to have well-paid jobs, and frequently discriminated against in customary law (for example, with regard to inheritance). Moreover, the discrimination starts at an early age, since girls are less likely to go to school than boys and more likely to be expected to do agricultural or household work at an early age.

Does this mean that women are automatically and inevitably disadvantaged on the basis of gender? Some people would argue that it does not. They would cite the fact that many women are able to overcome any such disadvantages and achieve an economic, social or political status equal or superior to that of men. They would also argue that a woman in a wealthy household and/or in a relatively affluent country is less disadvantaged than a man in a poor household and/or a poor country. And they would claim that many men do not regard women as inferior - and that many women do not think that they are disadvantaged and do not want to be equal to men. There is some truth behind each of these arguments and it will be seen later that they must be taken into consideration when formulating policy on gender issues. Nevertheless, the fact remains that, to the extent that objective indicators of disadvantage (such as those mentioned above) can be agreed upon, a woman is likely to be at a disadvantage in relation to a man in an equivalent socioeconomic position simply because of her gender.

Often the most fundamental problem of planning to meet the needs of women at district level is to get those in decision-making y positions to agree that there is a problem. Both central and local government agencies at district level tend to be dominated by men, and more often than not these men either do not regard women as disadvantaged or do not consider it to be a problem that warrants serious attention. Consequently, many attempts to improve the status of women begin as pressure groups, composed primarily or entirely of women and often operating outside formal government structures, although government officials may be involved. This was the case with the Gondwanaland Women's Action Group, described in Box 8.3, which is a non-government organization established by a small group of concerned women to promote the interests of women throughout the district.

BOX 8.3



The Gondwanaland Women's Action Group is a non-government organization formed in 1989 by a small group of women in Gondwanaland District with the aim of improving the status of women in the district. The founder members included the only woman councillor in the district (who was elected chairperson), the District Community Development and Social Welfare Officer (DCDSWO), three other civil servants, a prominent businesswoman, and an expatriate teacher at Gondwana High School. All were resident in Gondwana town.

Prior to the Group's formation, the only efforts to improve the position of women in the district were those of the Ministry of Community Development and Social Welfare, which encouraged women to work in groups to establish small income generating projects based on their traditional areas of expertise. The most popular were baking, sewing (especially school uniforms), gardening and poultry projects. Some of these projects became economically viable, but many failed to become effective means of income generation.

The Group's initial approach

The initial approach adopted by the Women's Action Group was very different to that of the Ministry of Community Development and Social Welfare. Most of the members felt that such income generating projects did nothing to improve the social status of women and, in fact, tended to reinforce their traditional role because the activities they promoted were those traditionally undertaken by women. They believed that the need was for a pressure group, which would actively promote the rights of women and fight against any form of discrimination. The DCDSWO was not entirely convinced by this argument but she was disillusioned by the high rate of failure among the projects promoted by her Ministry and thus willing to try a different approach. All the members were considerably influenced by the expatriate teacher, who had been involved in a similar women's pressure group in her own country and believed that it was the only valid approach.

The Group's main activities in this initial phase included:

    · the production of a women's newsletter (supported by funds which the teacher procured from her home country), which urged women to fight for their rights at home, at work and in the local community;

    · an educational campaign among ward level extension workers of the Ministry of Community Development and Social Welfare, to encourage them to adopt a more radical approach in their work with women; and

    · a formal protest to the District Council about the discrimination against women in both the election of councillors and the appointment of staff

However, these activities had little if any positive impact and, in fact, aroused considerable hostility, especially in the District Council. The newsletter did not sell well; most ward extension workers failed to take up the Group's message, claiming that the women with whom they worked were unable or unwilling to stand up for their rights in this way; and the main effect of the protest against the District Council was that the Group's chairperson lost her seat at the next Council elections.

The present approach

Following the Chairperson's defeat in the Council elections, the Group decided that it must review its approach. On the advice of the DCDSWO, members visited a number of women's groups around the district in order to learn about their position and problems. This helped them to see things from the perspective of the average rural woman, rather than that of a few relatively privileged urban dwellers, and thus to realize that the process of change had to be more gradual.

From then on, the group's approach has been significantly different. In particular:

    · Its activities include the provision of advice to women's income generating projects, on the grounds that for the majority of rural women the most important need is an independent source of income and the easiest way of generating this is to utilize their existing skills.

    · The provision of such advice then provides an opportunity for the Group to talk about the other problems faced by the women concerned and to discuss with them ways in which they might realistically tackle these problems.

    · The newsletter is still produced but there have been subtle but significant changes in its content and perspective - and as a result its sales have increased considerably.

    · With the help of a national women's organization, the Group has begun to address the problems of those women who are particularly disadvantaged, beginning with the case of women heads of rural households, which was refered to them by the Social Development Sub-Committee of the District Development Committee (see Box 8.1).

    · The Group continues to act as a watchdog in identifying cases of discrimination against women, but its approach is now more cautious and tactful than that adopted in the protest against the District Council.

Why are they disadvantaged?

Women are disadvantaged because of a vicious circle of social/cultural, economic and political factors, which operates at all levels - family, local community, national and international. The fact that in most cultures women are traditionally regarded as in many respects inferior to men means that their economic and political status tends to be lower than that of men, which in turn reinforces the cultural tradition of inferiority. Moreover, the cultural tradition is so strong that many women actually believe that they are inferior and so see no reason to try to improve their status.

Although the general form which this vicious circle takes is the same in all societies, including those where women's right to equal treatment has long been acknowledged in theory, there are significant variations in detail from one society to another - and from one household to another. It is important that anyone at district level who is concerned to improve the position of women in the district is fully conversant with the nature and causes of discrimination in that particular area, and with the way that the majority of rural people - men and women - feel about the position of women. Without such knowledge, there is a risk that the efforts made will be irrelevant to the local situation and arouse hostility rather than support, even among women. This was the case with the Gondwanaland Women's Action Group described in Box 8.3. Their initial approach was based on the experience of a few urban-based women and an expatriate volunteer, all of whom were out of touch with the reality of gender relations in the rural parts of the district. It was only when they took steps to understand the local situation and involve 'ordinary' women that their activities began to bear fruit.

How can their position be improved?

In many countries the approaches adopted to improve the position of women fall into two very different, and in some respects contradictory, types. One approach is to help women improve their economic position by engaging individually or collectively - in income-generating activities which utilize their traditional skills, such as gardening, poultry raising, sewing, baking, traditional crafts and marketing. This approach does not try to tackle the underlying discrimination against women and focuses on activities which are consistent with the traditional division of labour between men and women. This was the only kind of women's development activity promoted in Gondwanaland prior to the formation of the Women's Action Group. The other approach focuses on the underlying problem of discrimination against women. Its main aim is to mobilize women to protest against discrimination at all levels - in their families, in the local community, and at national level. The attitude adopted tends to be aggressive or militant and to promote a negative image of men. This was the initial approach tried by the Gondwanaland Women's Action Group.

There are obvious disadvantages in both approaches. The first does not provide a long-term solution to the problem because it does not tackle the underlying causes of women's disadvantage, while the second is unrealistic in terms of the degree and form of change expected, fails to provide any immediate economic benefit to women and tends to arouse hostility, especially but not only among men. As those involved in the Gondwanaland Women's Action Group gradually learned, there is a need for a third approach which incorporates elements of the other two and is specifically adapted to the reality of the local situation.

This third approach should involve a combination of three main kinds of activities:

Box 8.3 describes the strategy eventually adopted by the Gondwanaland Women's Action Group, which includes each of these three kinds of activities.

8.5 Planning for ethnic minorities

Ethnic minorities do not exist in all districts, or even in all countries. However, where they do exist, they present a special challenge to the social planner. This final section of the chapter looks at ways of planning to meet the needs of this particular disadvantaged group at district level. It draws upon the obvious example of the Hurda in Gondwanaland, which has already been used in Boxes 3.4 and 7.1 and is expanded in Box 8.4.

BOX 8.4



As described in Box 3.4, in 1988 an international NGO, World Development International, offered to support an integrated development project in Zone V, for the benefit of the Hurda people. However, the project was sabotaged by local and national politicians, who wanted it located in their own parts of the district, and by another NGO working in the area, called Save the People. Eventually World Development International established the project in another district.

However, at the district workshop on poverty described in Box 8.1, it was decided that the District Development Committee (DDC) should revise the original project proposal and approach other donors for funding.

Project planning

The original project proposal had been designed by World Development International, in consultation with headquarters staff of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning. No-one at district level had been consulted until the final stages of project approval, when the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning decided that it would be necessary to have the District Council's support for a project of this nature. This was when the political opposition began.

The DDC realized that, in order to avoid a similar problem, all those affected by the project must be involved in tile planning stage. It therefore gave the responsibility for preparing the revised project design to a small task force, composed of tile Council Chairman (Who had attended the poverty workshop and thus agreed to the project's revival), tile councillors of the three Hurda wards, representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the Ministry of Community Development and Social Welfare and the District Secretary's Office, and a representative of Save the People.

Project aims

The task force proposed that the aims of the project should be to improve the economic, social and political status of the Hurda people through an integrated development programme.

Project components

It was proposed that the main project components should be:

    · The provision of an all-weather access road into the area (unless the Senda coal mine were to go ahead in the near future, in which case the road would be built anyway - see Box 7.1) and feeder roads leading to it. The Hurda councillors regarded this as the most important project component and other members of the task force agreed that all other forms of development would be hampered without improved road communication.

    · The provision of additional primary schools, a secondary school and two more clinics in the area This was also given high priority by the Hurda councillors and justified in terms of the gross underprovision of services in the area (see Box 3.4) and the district's education policy (see Box 6.3).

    · The promotion of small-scale economic development activities, notably commercial livestock production and the production and sale of traditional crafts. These activities were selected because they are areas in which the Hurda already have special expertise. It was recognized that it would not be easy to turn these traditional activities into commercial enterprises. However, there were indications that it should be possible if promoted slowly and in full consultation with the main social groups into which the Hurda are divided. If the Senda coal mine were to go ahead, there would be a ready local market for both kinds of product.

    · An adult education programme, similar to that established in parts of Zone III by the Catholic Church (see Box 3.3), in order to increase adult literacy and promote skills and attitudes which would help the people to improve their economic position and their social and political status.

Project organization

The task force proposed that:

    · A Hurda Development Association, composed of the three Hurda councillors and representatives of the main social groups, should be established to coordinate and monitor the project. This was intended primarily as a means of strengthening the Hurda's organizational capacity, and therefore their political 'voice' The Council Chairman initially objected to the idea, on the grounds that it would be duplicating the work of the Council. However, other members of the task force convinced him by saying that, since the Hurda councillors would be members, it should strengthen rather than weaken the Council's position.

    · The District Council should be responsible for the construction and maintenance of the roads, schools and health services, and to help it do this, the project would include the provision of equipment to upgrade the Council's Works Department. This was suggested by the Council Chairman and supported willingly by other members as a means of gaining the Council's support.

    · The Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources would be responsible for the livestock project and the Ministry of Community Development and Social Welfare for the crafts project and the adult education programme. The latter would be undertaken as an extension of its existing pilot adult literacy projects (see Box 6.3).

Are ethnic minorities disadvantaged ?

The identification of an ethnic minority as a disadvantaged group is rather like that of identyifing women as being disadvantaged, in that the basis for their disadvantage is also a physical characteristic - in this case, ethnic origin. However, it is not quite so straightforward, in that it is sometimes more difficult to identify his or her gender. It is therefore necessary to begin by defining the concept of ethnic minority before going on to consider in what way ethnic minorities are disadvantaged and whether they are always disadvantaged.

An ethnic group is usually defined as a group of people with the same physical or racial characteristics, the same historical origins and/or the same language, and more often than not, also the same religion and cultural traditions. And an ethnic minority is a group of people which is ethnically different to the majority of people in the country or region concerned.

In some cases, it is easy to identify an ethnic minority. For example, there is no doubt that people of African or Asian origin living in European countries are ethnic minorities. And there is little doubt that the Hurda are an ethnic minority in New Kolonia (and in Gondwanaland District) because they constitute only a small proportion of the total population and differ from other ethnic groups in terms of physical characteristics, language, historical origins and culture.

But in other cases it is more difficult. Should a group of people which differs from its neighbours in terms of only one characteristic be classified as a different ethnic group? Should an ethnic group which constitutes a sizeable proportion but less than half of the total population be regarded as a minority? And what about people of mixed ethnic origin? In cases such as these, it is necessary to ask, firstly, whether the group regards itself as different and is so regarded by others and, secondly, whether its share of the total population is too small to allow it effective political representation. If the answers to both questions are 'yes', the group should probably be regarded as an ethnic minority.

There is a tendency for ethnic minorities to be economically, socially and politically disadvantaged. For example, they tend to have less than their fair share of productive resources (such as land), earn less than average incomes, have a higher rate of illhealth, lack access to social services, be under-represented in the civil service and professions, and lack political representation at national or local government level. The case of the Hurda, described in Box 3.4, is a typical example of a severely disadvantaged ethnic minority.

But does this mean that ethnic minorities are always or inevitably disadvantaged? This is similar to the question of whether all women are disadvantaged. It does not mean that all ethnic minorities suffer from every form of disadvantage. On the contrary, some minority groups are able to attain a higher standard of living than most of their neighbours. Obvious examples from world history are the Jews in Europe, the white population in South Africa and the Asians in East Africa. This kind of ethnic minority is unlikely to warrant special planning attention, at least in normal circumstances. However, even groups such as these are disadvantaged in that, because of their minority status, they are vulnerable and may sooner or later suffer at the hands of the majority. The persecution of the Jews under Hitler and the Ugandan Asians under Idi Amin are cases in point.

Why are they disadvantaged?

The main reason why ethnic minorities are disadvantaged is that, because of their minority status, they lack political representation and so have little or no influence over the development of the country or region in which they live. However, other factors also play a part. They are more likely to be disadvantaged if their mode of life is economically and/or technologically weaker than that of the majority, as in the case of the Hurda, or if they belong to an ethnic, religious or cultural group which, for some reason or other, is particularly liable to persecution by the majority.

As with other forms of disadvantage, there is a tendency for ethnic minorities to become trapped in a vicious circle of poverty, deprivation and powerlessness, since each aspect of their disadvantage tends to reinforce the others. Once again the position of the Hurda is an obvious example. Moreover, the fact that they are 'different' is in itself part of the problem, since it means that there is not only a lack of concern for their wellbeing among those in positions of authority, but also a lack of understanding of their needs and problems. This creates difficulties for planners, since the wealth of general knowledge which exists among extension workers and other district staff may be of little value when seeking information about minority groups, because only the few staff who have worked among them will be familiar with their position. Moreover, there is also a tendency, even among professionals, to be prejudiced against ethnic minorities. The most effective way of obtaining accurate and unbiased information about their needs and problems is to involve members of the minority group themselves in the planning process.

How can their position be improved?

As with other disadvantaged groups, it is not easy to improve the position of ethnic minorities because of the vicious circle of deprivation and disadvantage in which they are trapped. The only really effective long-term strategy is to increase their political 'voice', thereby removing the basic cause of their disadvantage. But this is very difficult to do, particularly for planners at district level who seldom have much influence over national or local politics. Box 3.4 described how the attempt to establish an integrated development project for the Hurda people of Gondwanaland was sabotaged by both local and national politicians. It is also difficult to generalize about ethnic minorities as a whole, since each has its own specific needs and problems.

Despite these problems, it is possible to give some broad guidelines for district planners and to illustrate these by reference to the example of the Hurda:



This reading list is confined to material on disadvantaged groups in general and the poor in particular. It does not include material on the other examples discussed in the chapter (the land hungry, women and ethnic minorities) because these are specialized fields and their inclusion in the text was intended only to illustrate the general points made, not to provide a comprehensive coverage of these topics. Material on poverty is included because of its widespread significance and its interrelationship with other forms of disadvantage.

Chambers, R., Rural Development: Putting the Last First, Harlow, Longman, 1983. Includes a detailed analysis of the causes of disadvantage in rural areas, emphasizing the 'deprivation trap' in which disadvantaged people are caught, and looks at ways of tackling the problems. 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 demonstrate ways of manoeuvring round political obstacles. Not specifically focused on disadvantaged groups but most of the case studies have implications for the disadvantaged and Chapters 4 and 7 focus specifically on women and the poor respectively.

FAO, Guidelines for Designing Development Projects to Benefit the Rural Poor, Rome, 1986. Includes practical guidelines on means of identifying the rural poor and designing projects to meet their needs, although the latter part of the publication is really a guide to project design in general.

Korten, D.C. & F.B. Alfonso, Bureaucracy and the Poor: Closing the Gap, New York, McGraw-Hill International, 1981. Focuses on ways of reorienting government bureaucracy to meet the needs of the poor, emphasizing the need for a participatory, 'learning process' approach, which in turn requires major attitudinal changes.

World Bank, Poverty Reduction Handbook, Washington DC, 1992. An 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. Includes sections on analyzing poverty, designing national poverty reduction programmes, and monitoring progress. Intended primarily for Bank staff but also of general value. Brings together much of the Bank's work on poverty during the 1980s.

Chapter 9 Participatory planning

The final chapter focuses on participatory planning that is, planning with the people concerned rather than for them. It is divided into three main sections. The first section considers the arguments for participatory planning and the problems which it can create. The second examines the concept of participatory planning, including the degree and scope of participation, the question of who participates, and the channels of participation. And the final section looks at ways of strengthening participatory planning, through participatory research and appraisal, local government, extension workers, and community-based development projects.

9.1 The rationale for participatory planning

The need for a participatory approach to planning has been emphasized many times in these Guidelines and the time has now come to examine the rationale for such an approach more carefully. There are two main reasons why participation is advocated:

Although the arguments in favour of participatory planning are insurmountable, one should not pretend that it is easy or problem-free. As already indicated in Chapter 4 (section 4.4), participatory planning tends to require more resources and, in particular, more time than a non-participatory approach, because it involves a process of interaction between the planners and the beneficiaries. Moreover, it introduces many more interests, and therefore more options and more potential conflicts, into the planning process. There are likely to be conflicting interests both between professionals and beneficiaries and between different interest groups within the beneficiary community, and there is a risk that participation will increase rather than decrease inequalities in a community because the more powerful members are likely to have a greater say.

This in turn has implications in terms of the nature of the planning process and of the planner. It means that the planning process must be flexible, since participation may result in unanticipated delays or changes in plan, and it must take the form of a dialogue, in order to allow the various interest groups to express their views. Hence the concept of a 'learning process' approach described in Chapter 3 (section 3.2). It also means that a special effort must be made to ensure the participation of disadvantaged groups, along the lines discussed in Chapter 8. And it requires a particular sort of planner (or alternatively an appropriate intermediary), one who is able and willing to understand the complexities of the beneficiary community, develop an effective relationship with them, see things from their point of view and, if necessary, modify his or her own views accordingly.

The implications of this in terms of methods of participatory planning will be considered later in the chapter. At this stage, the important point to note is that any such costs and problems which arise in the course of participatory planning are usually more than outweighed in the longer run by the benefits in terms of the quality and implementability of the plan and the individual and collective development of the participants. Even if the result is that the proposed policy, programme or plan has to be abandoned (maybe because there is widespread opposition to it, or because it is impossible to reach agreement on the form which it should take or to ensure that disadvantaged groups are not further disadvantaged by it), it is better to find this out in the planning stage than after implementation has begun.

9.2 The nature and scope of participatory planning

Although the benefits of participatory planning are widely recognized, there is much confusion about what it actually is. Participatory planning can take many forms and it is important to understand the differences between them and, in particular, the extent to which each is likely to achieve any or all of the benefits outlined above. This section analyzes the varying nature and scope of participatory planning under four sub-headings: the scope of participation; the degree of participation; participation by whom?; and the channels of participation.

The scope of participation

The term 'planning' is generally used to refer to a wide-ranging process, involving a number of different but related and usually sequential steps, including: defining objectives; identifying and appraising alternative policies, programmes or projects for achieving these objectives; selecting the prefered alternative; implementing the selected policy, programme or project; monitoring its implementation; and evaluating its impact. Consequently, participatory planning may entail participation in any or all of these steps.

The term is most commonly used to refer to participation in the process of identifying and comparing alternative policies, programmes and projects (through various forms of participatory research) and/or in plan implementation (for example, by contributing cash or labour or merely 'being cooperative'). It is much less common to find any significant popular participation in defining the initial objectives, in actually selecting the preferred alternative, or in monitoring and evaluating. The lack of participation in the first two of these steps is particularly significant in terms of achieving the potential benefits of a participatory approach, since it means that people do not acquire the sense of control or 'ownership' which is necessary in order to ensure both the sustainability of the project or programme concerned and the full individual and collective benefits to the participants.

The degree of participation

At any stage in the planning process, the extent to which the people concerned participate can vary enormously, from a nominal form of participation in which they are really only informed of what is going to happen, through varying degrees of consultation and collaborative decision-making, to a situation where they are virtually in control. The critical issue is how much influence the people actually have over the decisions that are made at that stage in the process.

One cannot say what degree of participation is 'beet', since it depends on the types of decisions which have to be made and on one's objectives or perspective. In a situation where no particular professional or technical skills are needed in order to make the decisions, the more influence the participants have the better, especially if a major objective of the exercise is to enhance the community's control and self-esteem. However, if professional or technical expertise is needed to make appropriate decisions, complete control by the community may result in the wrong decisions being made, which in turn may jeopardise the success of the project or programme. In such cases, the planner has to decide whether to allow the people to make the wrong decision or (assuming he or she has the power to do so) to intervene and try to stop them.

This is a difficult decision to make. If the consequences of making such a decision are not likely to be too serious, it is probably better to let the people go ahead, so that they feel a sense of responsibility for the decision. Moreover, it is often the case that, although the decision made is contrary to accepted professional or technical wisdom, it is not the 'wrong' decision, but merely an alternative one, which draws upon a different type of knowledge. For example, farmers often have their own traditional agricultural practices which work just as well as - and sometimes better than those advocated by extension workers. Similarly (as in the case of the model vegetable garden project in Gondwanaland District, described in Box 3.3), local communities often have a more realistic idea of the degree and form of cooperative activity which is feasible in that particular community than the government's official cooperative advisers. If, on the other hand, the people's decision does prove to be wrong, and thus upsets the implementation process, the planner should not blame the people but explain why the problems have arisen and suggest ways of rectifying them.

In either case, this reinforces the need for dialogue between planners (or other professionals) and the people, in order to facilitate a process of mutual learning, in which the parties exchange information and ideas and learn from each other. It is obviously best if this dialogue occurs before decisions are made, in order to avoid as many mistakes as possible. But, since this is not always possible, one has to accept that mistakes will be made in a participatory planning process - and to recognize that this is one of the most effective ways in which lessons are learned - by both planners and people.

Participation by whom?

So far the discussion has referred vaguely to participation by 'the beneficiaries' or 'the people', although brief mention has been made of different interest groups. However, it is now necessary to consider exactly whose participation is necessary in order to achieve the potential benefits of a participatory approach.

The need is actually to involve all those people who are likely to either affect or be affected by the proposed policy, programme or project, whether positively or negatively. Participation of the former group is necessary in order to maximize the amount of support received in the implementation stage and minimize the risk of sabotage by possible opponents. For example, in the redesign of the Hurda Integrated Development Project described in Box 8.4 (Chapter 8), the District Council was involved from the start in order to ensure that the project was not sabotaged by the Council in the way that its predecessor had been. Participation of the second group - that is, those likely to be affected by the proposed policy, programme or project - is necessary in order to maximize the potential benefits and minimize any possible costs. Thus, in the case of the proposed Senda coal mine described in Box 7.1 (Chapter 7), the consultant sought the views of the likely beneficiaries, most of whom were from outside the immediate project area, and of the Hurda, who were more likely to suffer than gain from it.

The degree and form of participation required will not be the same in all cases. For example, in the case of the Senda coal mine study, the consultant did not make a serious attempt to consult people from outside the project area directly, since all she needed to know was that people were likely to be in a position to take advantage of the employment and marketing opportunities and this information could be obtained from secondary sources. However, in the case of the Hurda, more direct participation was required, partly because it was necessary to find out in much more detail how they were likely to react to the project, but also because they had a basic right to be consulted about such a development, since it would be in an area which they considered to be their own and would affect their lives significantly. And their participation in redesigning the Hurda Integrated Rural Development Project was perhaps even more important, since the project would have no hope of success unless it was relevant to their needs and priorities and had their full commitment.

The example of the Hurda also illustrates both the importance and the difficulties of involving disadvantaged groups, a point that has been touched upon briefly already. It is always easier to identify and communicate with the most affluent and influential people in an area or community than with the most disadvantaged. For example, at district level, district councillors (or their equivalent) are easy to contact and a useful source of general information about the district, but their views are not necessarily representative of the majority of the population and are likely to be biased in favour of their own interests. Similarly, at village level, the easiest contacts are village leaders (traditional or modern), other people in prominent positions (eg. teachers), master farmers and so on, while the poor, landless or disabled - and women as a whole, are much more difficult to locate and consult. Thus, in the case of the model vegetable garden project described in Box 3.3, the fact that in both villages the initial contact was made through the village development committee biased the project in favour of committee members and against the interests of those groups not adequately represented by the committee.

Channels of participation

Ideally, those people who need to be involved in planning a policy, programme or project should participate directly, rather than through some form of intermediary. In some cases this is possible, particularly if the activity concerned affects only a small number of people. For example, in the case of a village development project, it should be possible for all those affected by the project to be involved in its planning, provided that the planners are able and willing to promote such participation and recognize the need to make a special effort to involve disadvantaged groups.

However, it is often impossible for everyone to be involved directly, especially in the case of development activities which affect large numbers of people. Consequently, many forms of participation are indirect, in the sense that those affected have to express their views through some sort of intermediate channel. The effectiveness of their participation then depends very much on the effectiveness of the communication channel used. This explains many of the problems associated with the concept of 'democracy'. The original form of democracy, which was practiced in the city-states of ancient Greece, was one in which all citizens participated directly in the government of the city, through public meetings. But as states grew bigger, this had to be replaced by indirect forms of democracy, in which people participate through some form of representatives. The effectiveness of the democratic system is then dependent on the mode of selecting such representatives and on their personal characteristics, including their intellectual capacity, their personal and political interests and affiliations, and their integrity.

In the case of district planning, there are various possible channels of participation. The most obvious ones are the official political structures, especially those related to local government. For example, in many districts (including Gondwanaland) there is some form of district council and often also official ward and village level structures. The effectiveness of these structures depends on two main factors: firstly, the scope of their powers and their capacity to utilize these powers effectively; and secondly, the mode of selection and personal characteristics of the councillors and ward or village leaders. In many countries, local governments have very limited powers, lack the financial and administrative resources needed to execute these powers effectively, and are dominated by people who are either little more than agents of the political group in power at national level or concerned primarily with their own personal economic and political status. However, this is not always the case and, even if it is, there are usually ways of increasing their effectiveness as channels of participation. The next section of the chapter will look at ways of doing so.

Another important channel of participation is extension workers, who are in daily contact with local people and thus in a potentially good position to act as a means of communication between them and decision-makers at district level. The extent to which they are able to develop this potential depends on their attitudes and approach (which is in turn dependent on their personal character, the training they have received, the duties they are required to perform, and their remuneration) and on the extent to which they are able to influence decisions at a higher level. Unfortunately, many extension workers adopt a superior position to the people with whom they work, seeing their role as being to tell them what to do rather than listen to their views, and are treated in much the same way by their own superiors. This problem will also be addressed in the next section.

Non-government organizations (NGOs) also act as channels of participation, especially those which are established specifically to represent the interests of a particular group of people or to campaign on a particular issue. Examples include trade unions, women's groups, parents' associations, community health committees, consumer organizations, and various ad hoc groups established from time to time in response to particular issues or problems. These are often the most effective channels of participation, since they are established for exactly this purpose and their efforts are focused on particular issues. However, as the case of the Gondwanaland Women's Action Group described in Box 8.3 demonstrated, their effectiveness is dependent on the appropriateness of the tactics they use and the extent to which they really reflect the interests and aspirations of the people whom they are supposed to represent.

Other channels of participation tend to be less formal or structured, and thus less obvious. They include the media (eg. radio, television, newspapers), informal public protests (eg. riots, demonstrations, failure to attend public functions or participate in organized activities), and personal contacts. The last of these is probably the most widely used and the most effective means of informal participation in most districts. Personal contacts with those in positions of influence are widely used by individuals and organizations as a means of expressing their views or achieving their objectives. Unfortunately, however, they are also widely abused, in that they are often used to influence or override decisions made through formal channels and they tend to benefit those already in positions of affluence and influence at the expense of disadvantaged groups. This can be a major problem in planning. However, as with other problems of a broadly 'political' nature (see Chapter 3, section 3.4), the planner is advised to anticipate such intervention and, as far as possible, plan around it, rather than ignore it or pretend it does not exist.

The need for more coordination between these various channels of participation within the district is frequently expressed, especially by planners and administrators at district level. Hence the existence in many countries of some sort of coordinating committee, composed of representatives of all those organizations (government and non-government) involved in development planning, at district level and often also at lower levels (eg. ward, village). There are two main benefits of such coordination structures. Firstly, they simplify the process of public consultation, since those responsible for planning at each level only have to deal with one organization. And secondly, they enable that level of administration to speak with one voice, which in turn gives more weight to its views, especially in negotiations with higher levels of authority. However, such coordination structures can also hamper effective participation, since they tend to be dominated by the more powerful or influential channels of communication and, in some cases, become little more than mouthpieces for the ruling political party or other dominant group. Research in many countries suggests that the more independent channels of participation there are, the more participation there is likely to be and, in particular, the more opportunities there are for relatively disadvantaged groups to have a voice.

9.3 Strengthening participatory planning

There are many possible ways of strengthening participatory planning. This section of the chapter focuses on four which are likely to be particularly relevant to planners at district level: the adoption of a participatory approach in research and appraisal; increasing the scope for effective participation through local government; developing the potential of extension workers as channels of participation; and community-based development projects.

Participatory research and appraisal

In Chapter 5, which focused on the collection and use of data for social planning purposes, frequent reference was made to the need for popular participation, particularly in the section on rapid appraisal techniques. This sort of participation does not guarantee that people's views are taken into account in the final decision-making, but it does ensure that the planners are aware of their needs, problems, attitudes and priorities and provide a basis for arguing their case if the need or opportunity arises.

Such participation should if possible be 'active' rather than 'passive', thereby providing an opportunity for the participants to benefit directly (individually and/or as a community) from the participation, as well as providing information which may or may not eventually benefit them. This is one of the advantages of many rapid appraisal techniques. Conventional household surveys tend to be passive forms of participation, in which the participants provide the information required without really understanding the underlying issues or opportunities. Even if the interviewer makes a special effort to explain the purpose of the survey and invites the interviewee to raise issues not specifically mentioned in the questionnaire, the latter is not really encouraged to think constructively about the issues or problems concerned. A less structured group discussion, on the other hand, is likely to stimulate people to identify and analyze their problems themselves, and possibly even to begin to organize themselves to do something about them, irrespective of anything which the planners may or may not do.

It is also important that participatory forms of data collection do not raise false hopes among the participants. For example, if one asks people what their problems are and what they would like to see done about them when there is little chance that one will actually be able to do anything, people rapidly become disillusioned and apathetic - and reluctant to cooperate the next time someone tries to consult or involve them. Similarly, if one talks enthousiastically about a proposed development project which does not materialize, is located elsewhere or is unduly delayed, one will merely create disappointment and frustration. This also suggests the need for an 'active' approach, in which the participants are told exactly what the situation is and encouraged to think of their own solutions, rather than just wait for action from government or some other outside agency.

Box 9.1 describes how the Gondwanaland Women's Action Group adopted a participatory approach to its research on the problems facing women heads of households, who had been identified as one of the most disadvantaged groups in the district (see Boxes 8.1 and 8.3). In this case, the research was seen not only as a means of finding out more about the causes of the problem in order to identify possible solutions at the district level, but also as a way of helping individual women to understand and improve their own position.

BOX 9.1



The problems faced by women heads of households in Gondwanaland was introduced in Chapter 8. Box 8.1 described how the Social Development Sub-Committee identified them as one of the poorest types of household and refered the problem to the Gondwanaland Women's Action Group, and Box 8.3 mentioned that the Croup obtained funds from a national women's organization to help it address the issue. This box describes the study which the Group then undertook

Objectives of the study

The study had two interrelated objectives:

    · to identify the types of problems faced by women heads of households and their causes and to explore possible solutions; and

    · to help the women themselves to understand the causes of their problems and to find their own ways of improving their situation.


Two women research assistants were employed to undertake the study. They selected ten villages in different parts of the district and in each village identified and interviewed all women heads of households. Following the individual interviews, there were group meetings of all the interviewees in each village, and finally a meeting in Gondwana town of all the interviewees from all the villages. The individual interviews focused on the nature and causes of the problems, but the group meetings were used primarily to stimulate discussion among the women on methods of addressing the problems. problems.


The main findings were as follows:

    · There were several different reasons why the women had become heads of households; a few had never married, but the majority were widowed or divorced or had simply been deserted by their husbands. The rate of re-marriage among widowed and divorced women was low, especially in areas where traditional customs are strong, because it is discouraged in customary law.

    · The main problems they faced were:

    (i) lack of labour, especially for the tasks usually undertaken by men;

    (ii) difficulties in obtaining land, because traditionally only men were allowed to inherit rights to cultivate land and, although this tradition has officially been overridden by national legislation, it is still practiced in many rural areas;

    (iii) financial problems in maintaining children; and

    (iv) lack of respect or influence in the village, since women in general, and widowed and divorced women in particular, are widely considered to be inferior to men.

    · The main solutions which emerged from the group meetings were:

    (i) Women need advice on their legal rights, including their right to land and, in the case of single, divorced or deserted women, their right to claim child maintenance from the fathers of their children.

    (ii) They also need advice on alternative income generating activities, in order to augment their income from the land.

    (iii) Women heads of household within a village should support each other in their claims for more equal treatment in the community.

    (iv) Women must have a higher image of themselves in order to gain the confidence needed to confront men as equals and stand up for their rights.

· At the final meeting in Gondwana it was agreed that the following action would be taken:

    (i) The Gondwanaland Women's Action Group would produce simple handouts on women's legal rights, which would be distributed through community development workers and women's clubs.

    (ii) The Group would approach the District Community Development and Social Welfare

    Officer, with a view to organising special workshops for community development workers on the problems faced by women heads of household and their legal rights.

    (iii) The Group would contact the district's business advice centre, recently established by an NGO called Jobs for the People (see Box 8.1), for advice on appropriate income-generating activities.

    (iv) The women themselves would form their own association, initially to support each other in their own villages, but later (with help from the Group) to pass the message on to other villages.

Local government

The advantages and disadvantages of local government as a channel of participation were outlined in the previous section. It was suggested there that local political structures (including those at ward and village levels, where they exist) are one of the most obvious ways in which people can participate in district planning activities, but that their effectiveness is often hampered by their limited powers and by the tendency for local politicians to make decisions on the basis of personal rather than community or district needs and to put political considerations ahead of professional or technical ones. In most cases, there is little that planners (or other professionals) at district level can do to increase the powers of local government structures, other than perhaps to campaign at national level as and when the opportunity arises. Furthermore, they have to accept the fact that local politicians are politicians and will thus inevitably be preoccupied with political considerations, including their own personal political status. Nevertheless, there are, as indicated in the previous section, ways in which their effectiveness as channels of participation can be enhanced.

The key to increasing the effectiveness of local political leaders is to increase their sense of responsibility and accountability for the decisions they make. This can be done in a number of ways. For example:

Box 9.2 describes how the Gondwanaland District Development Committee introduced some of the measures outlined above in an attempt to enhance the District Council's role in planning.

BOX 9.2


The problem

There was much dissatisfaction among members of the Gondwanaland District Development Committee with the role of councillors in the district planning process. The basic problem was that there were a number of vocal and influential councillors who tried to influence all Council decisions to meet their own interests or those of the political parties they represented. Moreover, since these included more or less equal numbers of Gonds and Wana, and thus of the two main political parties, the Council was frequently split along party lines.

The DDC was beginning to feel that there was no point in attempting any sort of rational planning When considering the annual Rural Development Fund allocation, the Council often took no notice of either the District Five Year Plan or the DDC's attempts to prioritize project applications (see Box 7.7) and the proposed Hurda Integrated Development Project (see Box 3.4) was not the only project which it had sabotaged.

The need for more involvement

The District Secretary, in his capacity as DDC chairperson, decided to discuss the matter with the Council Chairman and the Chief Executive Officer. He then realized that part of the problem was that tile councillors did not fully understand the planning process or feel that they were really involved in it. They regarded it as something controlled by government officials rather than themselves. Consequently, they felt little sense of commitment to, or responsibility for, the decisions made. This was understandable, since they were not really involved in either the preparation of the District Five-Year Plan or the technical aspects of project prioritization. They were merely expected to endorse recommendations made by the technicians.

It was therefore agreed that the councillors must be involved more directly in the planning process, in order to increase their awareness of developmental issues and their sense of responsibility for the decisions they made. After further discussion with the Council as a whole, a process of participatory ward and district level panning was initiated jointly by the Council and the DDC.

The participatory planning process

The objective of the participatory planning process was to prepare development strategies for the district as a whole and for each ward, which would be accepted by councillors and community leaders as the basis for identifying and prioritizing potential projects at both levels. The exercise involved three stages:

· Stage 1: Identification of needs and potential at ward level

    The objective of the first stage was to identify the main needs and potential in each ward. In order to do this, councillors organized a series of meetings in their wards, attended by as many people as possible. A simple questionnaire, prepared at district level, was used as a basis for identifying the main needs in terms of inputs or services and the main potential for development in the area The councillors were assisted by ward-based extension staff However, the staff were instructed to let the councillors and other community leaders take the lead. Their role should be to offer professional or technical advice and to try to help disadvantaged groups have an input. A special effort was made to help those wards where the councillor was relatively weak, in order to ensure that their needs would be represented at district level.

· Stage 2: Preparation of district development strategy

    The next stage was to prepare a simple district development strategy, in which the main priorities by sector and by ward would be identified In order to do this, the inputs from the wards were compared with existing data at district level (including the District Five-Year Plan, which had been prepared without really considering ward level priorities). The initial analysis was undertaken by a small technical team, composed of central and local government staff, who prepared the data in the form of simple maps and charts. This was done in a way which would encourage the councillors to see things from a professional or technical perspective and to appreciate the needs of the district as a whole and of disadvantaged groups or areas.

    This data was presented and discussed at a workshop attended by all councillors. There was heated debate at the workshop, especially when it came to deciding which wards had the greatest need in terms of various inputs and services. But eventually a reasonable degree of agreement was reached. A draft development strategy was then prepared by the technical team and this was discussed and approved with minor modifications at the next Council meeting.

· Stage 3: Preparation of ward development strategies

    The third stage was to prepare a simple development strategy for each ward, which would provide a basis for planning local development initiatives and requesting assistance from district level. The strategy would be based on the needs and potential identified in Stage 1 but would also take account of the district development strategy, which indicated the relative importance attached to the ward's needs and problems at district level. This stage was undertaken in much the same way a; Stage 1.

Extension workers

The strengths and weaknesses of extension workers as channels of participation were also discussed briefly in the previous section. In this case, the main problem is the fact that extension workers are often seen (and see themselves) as a means of channelling information downwards from higher levels in the civil service structure to the people, rather than as a means of passing information from the people upwards - or instigating a process of mutual learning between themselves and the people. Once again the scope for making significant changes at district level is somewhat limited, since the main causes of the problem are the hierarchical nature of most civil service structures, the type of training given to extension workers, the demands of headquarters officials, and in many countries the low level of remuneration received. However, it is possible to introduce some changes at district level.

In this case, the main need is a change in attitudes. Extension workers must be encouraged to see the people with whom they work as equals and to see their interaction with them as a process of dialogue, in which information is exchanged and decisions made as far as possible on the basis of mutual agreement. Senior staff can facilitate this sort of attitudinal change in three main ways:

BOX 9.3



The District Agricultural Officer (DAO) was somewhat concerned to note that, in the discussions held with Agricultural Extension Workers (AEWs) to obtain information on farming systems (see Box 5.6), some of the AEWs had a rather negative attitude towards the farmers with whom they were working. They seemed to lack any understanding or appreciation of the farmers' views and problems and were impatient with those who did not follow their instructions on farming methods. The DAO discussed the problem with the District Community Development and Social Welfare Officer (DCDSWO), whom he had consulted earlier about the need to take more account of social factors in project planning (see Box 4.1). She offered to help him organize a training programme for the AEWs, using some of the training materials designed for training ward community development staff The DAO had no special funds for such a training programme. However, since all the AEWs come to the district office once a month to collect their pay and present their monthly reports, he decided to use these monthly meetings for the training programme.

Objectives of the training programme

The objectives of the training programme were to get the AEWs to see things from the farmers' point of view, to respect them as equals, and to regard their work as a process of dialogue and mutual reaming between themselves and the farmers.

The training programme

Since there are 44 AEWs in the district (one for each ward), they were divided into two groups for purposes of the training. Each training course consisted of three daily sessions, spread over a period of three months. Between each session, the participants were given specific exercises to perform in the course of their daily work. The training was provided by the DCDSWO, with assistance from the DA O. The content of the programme was as follows:

Day 1

    · A role-playing game, designed by the Ministry of Community Development and Social Welfare, in which all but two of the AEWs played the part of villagers who had to follow the unreasonable advice and instructions of the other two, who played the part of authoritarian extension workers.

    · Discussion of the participants reactions to the game and its implications in terms of their own behaviour as AEWs.

Exercise: All the participants were required to compile an account of the problems of farming in their wards as seen from the farmers' perspective, for discussion at the next session.

Day 2

    · Discussion of the participants ' findings on the problems faced by farmers in their areas and the implications for extension workers, initially in small groups and then in a plenary session.

    · Guidelines by the DCDSWO on how to engage in a dialogue with farmers in order to discuss how to tackle the kinds of problems identified, followed by simple role-playing exercises to illustrate the points made.

Exercise: All the participants were required to apply the guidelines in one of their extension activities over the next month and report their experiences at the next session.

Day 3

    · Discussion of the participants' experiences in applying the guidelines, initially in small groups and then in a plenary session.

    · Discussion of the ways in which the AEWs' attempts to change their behaviour are likely to be hampered by the attitudes and demands of their senior officers, initially in small groups and then in a plenary session (chaired by the DCDSWO), at which their complaints were presented to the DAO.

Community- based development projects

A natural extension of any or all of the three ways of strengthening community participation described so far is the evolution of 'community-based' development projects. The term 'community-based' is used here to refer to development projects which are initiated and controlled primarily or entirely by the local community rather than by central or local government officials or other 'outsiders', although the latter can and should provide advice or assistance as and when required. Such projects are in many respects the most effective forms of participation, since they are directed towards locally perceived needs and priorities and controlled by local people.

Such projects may be entirely local initiatives, in which 'outsiders' either play no role at all or are merely brought in to advise or assist on specific issues. Or they may emerge from a dialogue between local people and outsiders, as a result of which the local people decide to take action themselves, with advice or assistance from the outsiders when necessary. As already indicated, the initial dialogue may be part of one of the other methods of participation described above - for example, some sort of participatory research, the preparation of a local development strategy, or a discussion with extension staff. Box 9.4 describes a community forestry project in Zone III of Gondwanaland District, which emerged from a discussion between local people and agricultural extension workers about the problems of land shortage in the area and their illegal exploitation of the neighbouring forest reserve.

Whatever the origins of the project, it is important that the outsiders do not try to take it out of the control of the local community. Sometimes, the temptation to do this may be very great, especially if the outsiders think that the project is going in the wrong direction. For example, they may be concerned that the project is inconsistent with district (or national) priorities, ignores accepted professional or technical knowledge, or is likely to benefit existing elites at the expense of disadvantaged groups. In such cases, they should try to influence the character of the project by discussing their concerns with the people, but not to the extent of taking it over or 'killing' it unless of course it is likely to cause a major disaster if no action is taken!

In the case of the community forestry project described in Box 9.4, headquarters staff of the National Forestry Commission wanted to stop the project altogether because they did not believe that the people could exploit the forest without destroying it completely. But the district agriculture and forestry staff were able to act as a 'broker' between them and the people. They persuaded the people to adopt conservation practices that would meet the requirements of the Forestry Commission and persuaded the Forestry Commission that the people were serious in their commitment to do so.

Perhaps the biggest problem of community-based development projects from the planner's point of view is the fact that, by their very nature, they are not something which the planner himself - or any other outsider - can initiate. Outsiders can, as already indicated, encourage and assist such initiatives, but they cannot create them. In fact, this is the basic dilemma of participatory planning. Participation is an essential ingredient of any form of rural development planning, but no-one can make people participate. Consequently, anyone involved in such planning must be able and willing to act as a facilitator, using the various methods and approaches described in this chapter.

BOX 9.4



The problems of land shortage in Zone III were introduced in Chapter 8. Box 8.2 described the strategies adopted to try to tackle the problem. One of these was for the District Agricultural Officer to approach the National Forestry Commission about the possibility of allowing people to use parts of the forest reserve to cut timber and graze cattle, along the lines of a similar project recently established in another part of the country. The idea was that the people would cut an agreed amount of timber, sell the wood, graze their cattle on the area for a while, and then plant new trees.

The DAO discussed the matter with the District Forest Officer (DFO), who was sympathetic and agreed to refer it to his head office. However, his head office refused, on the grounds that the other project was, in their view, proving to be a disaster. The people were apparently cutting much more timber than they were supposed to do and were not replanting. The DAO and DFO were disappointed but could not see any way of changing the Commission's decision.

The community's initiative

However, a few months later the DAO was approached by the Agricultural Extension Worker (AEW) from Ward 39, which is one of the wards adjoining the forest reserve. He reported that, following the discussions on land shortage at district level, he had discussed the problem with people in his ward, who were currently using the forest reserve illegally. He had explained that the reason why they were not supposed to use the reserve was that the forest would eventually disappear. The Forestry Commission's policy was that timber could only be cut if an equivalent area of forest was replanted. The people had replied that they were willing to plant trees to replace those cut if they could get seedlings. So the AEW had got some seedlings from the Forestry Commission's nursery at district level and the people had planted them. He was aware that, in so doing, he was in effect supporting an illegal practice; but he had assumed that it was only a matter of time before such a project would be launched officially and he wanted to show that the people in his ward were ready for such a project.

Supporting the community's initiative

The DAO consulted the DFO and they decided that they could perhaps use this initiative to persuade the Forestry Commission to change its mind about the project. The DFO had been doing some investigations and had reamed that the other project appeared to have failed because it had been initiated by the Forestry Commission rather than the local people and no-one had taken the trouble to explain the project fully to the people and ensure that they were willing to participate on the terms required by the Commission.

The DAO and DFO therefore visited Ward 39 to see the community's initiative for themselves. They found that, because they had not had sufficient technical advice, the people were not planting enough trees or using the correct planting procedures. But the commitment to replant was there and the people indicated that they would be more than willing to adopt the correct procedures if someone showed them what to do.

The DFO then went back to his head office and explained the situation, pointing out what he had learned about the likely reasons for the failure of the other project and explaining how the situation in Ward 39 was different because the initiative had come from the people themselves. The staff at head office were at first reluctant. However, they eventually agreed to allow the DFO to try the project for a trial period of a year.

The DFO allocated a forestry assistant to work with the community and the AEW, in order to show them how to cut timber and plant trees according to the Commission's requirements. The people reamed quickly and after six months the forestry assistant was withdrawn, on condition that the people would consult the Commission if they had any problems and before starting to cut a new area of timber. At the end of the trial period, the DFO invited headquarters staff to visit Ward 39. They were duly impressed by what they saw and agreed that the project could continue - and that similar initiatives should be encouraged or supported in other parts of the forest reserve.



Cohen, J.M. & N.T. Uphoff, 'Participation's place in rural development: seeking clarity through specificity', World Development, vol. 8, 1980, pp. 213-35. Provides a very useful conceptual framework for analyzing the many different forms which 'popular participation' may take and thus dispelling much of the confusion surrounding the concept.

FAO, Community Forestry: Rapid Appraisal, Community Forestry Note 3, Rome, 1989, Explains the role of rapid appraisal techniques in community forestry projects and describes the use of specific techniques.

FAO, The Community's Toolbox. The Idea, Methods and Tools for Participatory Assessment, Monitoring and Evaluation in Community Forestry. Community Forestry Field Manual 2. Rome, 1990. Even though conceived for forestry staff, this Manual provides very clear explanations about the participatory process as well as very didactic description of the information collecting tools.

Korten, D.C., 'Community organization and rural development: a learning process approach', Public Administration Review, vol. 40, 1980, pp. 480-511. Definitive article on the concept of a 'learning process' approach and its role in rural development, illustrated by case studies of projects from Asia.

Korten, D.C. (ed), Community Management: Asian Experience and Perspectives, W. Hartford, Conn., Kumarian Press, 1987. Case studies of community-based development projects, indicating the factors which contribute to genuine community control or management.

O'Regan, F.M. et al., Public Participation in Regional Development Planning, Washington DC, The Development GAP, 1979. Practical manual on methods of participation, designed specifically for use in regional (ie. area) planning.

United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat), Community Participation: A Trainer's Manual, Nairobi, 1988. Practical manual on the planning and implementation of participatory projects, intended primarily for trainers but also of more general value.

Uphoff, N.T., Local Institutional Development, W. Hartford, Conn., Kumarian Press, 1987. Comprehensive and useful guide to ways of strengthening local institutions as a means of promoting community-based development. Includes chapters on natural resource management, infrastructure, health, agriculture, and non-agricultural enterprise, illustrated by more than 80 case studies from Africa, Asia and Latin America.

World Resources Institute, Center for International Development and Environment, Participatory Rural Appraisal Handbook, Washington DC, 1991 (prepared in conjunction with Egerton University, Kenya, and Clark University, USA). Practical manual on participatory methods of rapid rural appraisal for village-level planning. Designed for use in Kenya and uses Kenyan examples, but relevant to planners elsewhere.


No 1

- CASE STUDY - South Nyanza Sugar Project - Kenya, 1983

No 2

- CASE STUDY - Dakawa Rice Farm Project - Tanzania, 1983

No 3

- CASE STUDY - Mkata Ranch Project - Tanzania, 1983

No 4

- Proceedings of the FAO/EADB In-Service Training Course on Project Analysis -1983

No 5

- Note on Monitoring and Evaluation Terminology - 1983

No 6

- CASE STUDY - Ondo State Opticom Centres - Nigeria, 1983

No 7

- CASE STUDY - Waling Lift Irrigation Project - Nepal, 1983

No 8

- ETUDE DE CAS - Projet de développement de la production alimentaire en Casamance - Sénégal, 1983 (non disponible)

No 9

- CASE STUDY - Waling Lift Irrigation Project - Dasi Project Analysis - Nepal, 1983

No 10

- Schéma théorique de déroulement d'une opération de développement rural, 1983

No 11

- CASE STUDY - Credit and Marketing Project for Small-Holders in Swaziland, 1985

No 12

- Training in Policy Impact Analysis - Preliminary Plan of Action for an FAO Training Programme, 1988

No 13

- CASE STUDY - On Credit for the Wadi Arab Dam Area - Jordan, 1988

No 14

- Policy Analysis for Food and Agricultural Development: Basic Data Series and their Uses, 1988

No 15

- Structural Adjustment Programmes in Sub-Saharan Africa, 1989

No 16

- Identification and Appraisal of Small-Scale Rural Energy Projects, 1989

No 17

- Design of Monitoring and Evaluation Systems (Corum-Cankiri, Turkey), 1989

No 18

- Linkages between Policy Analysis, National Planning and Decentralized Planning for Rural Development, 1989

No 19

- Manuel de préparation des microréalisations, 1988

No 20

- Preparaçao participativa dos projectors de desenvolvimento agrícola/rural: Documento metodológico, 1988

No 21

- Rural Area Development Planning: A Review and Synthesis of Approaches, 1990(E/F)

DOCUMENTS FOR CAPPA (Computerized system for Agricultural and Population Planning Assistance and training)

No 22

- CAPPA Manual, 1992 (E/F/S)

No 22/1

- The use of scenarios in agricultural sector analysis - The CAPPA system and other approaches, 1991 (E/F/S/A)

No 22/2

- Setting targets for agricultural planning: From macroeconomic projections to commodity balances: an illustration with the CAPPA system, 1991 (E/F/S/A)

No 22/3

- Reference international data for CAPPA applications, 1992

No 22/4

- Projection of agricultural supply in CAPPA, 1991 (E/F/S)

No 22/5

- A case study of the use of the CAPPA system: Cappa - Ghana, 1993

No 23/1

- Energy for Sustainable Rural Development Projects - A Reader, 1991


- Energy for Sustainable Rural Development Projects - Case Studies, 1991

No 24

- Guide pour la formation de formateurs, 1991

No 25

- Structural Adjustment and Agriculture, Report of an In-service Training Seminar for FAO Staff, 1991

No 26

- Planification régionale du secteur agricole: Notions et techniques économiques, 1991

No 27/1


- Rural Area Development Planning: Principles, Approaches, and Tools of Economic Analysis. Volumes 1 and 2. 1991

No 28

- Programmation et préparation de petites opérations de développement rural, 1992

No 29

- Training for Decentralized Planning: Lessons from Experience, 1987 (E/F)

No 30

- Economic Analysis of Agricultural Policies: A Basic Training Manual with Special Reference to Price Analysis, 1992 (E/F)

No 31

- Agricultural Price Policy: Government and the Market, 1992

No 32

- L'approche gestion des terroirs: ouvrage collectif, 1993

No 33

- Trainer's Guide: Concepts, Principles, and Methods of Training with Special Reference to Agricultural Development, 1993

No 34

- Guidelines on Social Analysis for Rural Area Development Planning, 1993

    Copies of these materials can be requested from:

    Distribution and Sales Section


    Via delle Terme di Caracalla

    00100 Rome, Italy

    providing full details on title and number.

Previous PageTop Of PageTable Of Contents