Land & Water

Social analysis for agriculture and rural investment projects: Practitioner’s Guide

International financing agencies and borrower governments have committed themselves, through the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), to pro-poor growth and proactive investment in poverty reduction, food security and nutrition. Most have also committed themselves to social development goals, such as equitable development, gender equality, social protection and peace. With the majority of the world’s poor living and working in rural areas, investment in agriculture and rural development can significantly contribute to these goals. However, contrary to the general assumption that any growth-oriented investment in the agricultural sector effectively reduces poverty, experience has shown that untargeted investment to increase agricultural production is relatively ineffective in reaching the poor. Social analysis is instrumental in designing and implementing successful pro-poor policy and institutional reforms and poverty-targeted investment programmes and projects. It is fundamental for understanding the complexities of social diversity, gender and the various dimensions of poverty (e.g. low income, lack of assets, vulnerability, exclusion, powerlessness, lack of voice and an inability to withstand shocks). The social analysis perspective enables planners and practitioners to put the human dimensions – stakeholders, target groups, intended beneficiaries or other affected people – at the centre of development interventions. 

The Practitioner’s Guide deals with the ‘why and what’ questions in depth, building on the conceptual approach presented in the Manager’s Guide. It describes:

  • the sustainable livelihoods framework for understanding the dynamics of rural poverty and livelihoods, social diversity and gender in the context of agriculture and rural development (section 2);
  • the main entry points for conducting social analysis (section 3); 
  • the range of inputs that may be provided to project design (section 4); 
  • how the findings and recommendations are drawn together into a technical paper and summary matrices (section 5);
  • tools for tracking social aspects of development (section 6). 
Source (link)
Socio-economic/negotiated approaches/tools
Thematic areas
Social - participatory approaches
User Category
Technical specialist, Scientific advisor, Policy maker