What does Participatory Development Mean in practice? Some Lessons from an Integrated Rural Development Project in KwaZulu
There are several analyses of community participation in the literature on rural development, which define what is meant by participation and what it is for. South African analyses are rare. This paper reflects critically on one particular project experience in rural Bantustan in South Africa. The paper briefly defines what is meant by participation, with a focus on the practical implications of these meanings. The remainder of the paper explores some of the reasons for the practical difficulties of implementing a 'participatory' approach, with reference to a case study of one integrated rural development project. The project aimed to address the problems of land degradation, poverty and unemployment. The establishment and evolution of the project are described in sections on planning, pilot trials and demonstrations, interaction with development agencies and political liaison, pilot project implementation and sponsor dynamics, the changing role of the research institution and the establishment if a rural service centre. The paper concludes That what participation means and what participation is possible with what types of social organisation are influenced by many variables, including 'outside' actors, particularly as in this example, the research institute had its own goals in implementing the project.