3d) Decentralization and participation
In many of the rural development projects implemented in
the past, there was a large gap between plan and implementation.
The integrated rural development concept to fill this gap
with the participation of the rural population which, hitherto,
has been the mere object of projects. The success of integrated
rural development programmes depends on the degree to which
a population can be motivated. This again depends on how much
their interests, their felt needs are taken into account,
and to what extent they are involved in the planning and decision-making
Thus, the question of motivation leads to the problem of
decentralization of planning, i.e. to a discussion which has
been going on for years under the slogan of "development
from below". In principle, centralized planning, bottom-up
planning, involves all groups in the process, this being the
prerequisite for the mobilization of local resources. It guarantees
that the felt needs of the population, and not those of the
planners, are taken care of, and the population considers
the plans as their own. This altogether increases the efficiency
to a crucial point because rural development does not seem
to be possible as long as the rural population considers it
to be the governments and not their own task. This is why
the concept of integrated rural development attaches so much
importance to decentralization and participation.
However, there are some problems and limitations. Local
planning may easily come into conflict with national planning
because the target-setters, their evaluation of the situation,
and their priorities may differ. Lack of information on the
overall situation, as well as limited competence at the local
level, are difficult to deny. (In view of the ignorance of
national planners regarding local circumstances, this shortcoming
ntay be compensated for by similar lacks on the other side).
However, local planning is no guarantee for planning in
the best interest of the local population. It is not unusual
that local participation in reality means participation of
the rural upper class, and minorities are easily neglected.
Likewise, the disparities among regions can easily grow because
the better regions and those in which typical leader personalities
are encountered are often preferred to the others. Finally,
we must be aware that decentralization of planning will be
opposed by the administration as they dislike participation
on the part of the population. Decentralized planning means
a reallocation of power and influence, and is bound to meet
with the antagonism of groups with vested interests. There
is probably no clear answer as to "bottom-up" or
"up.down" planning, but different subjects require
different procedures. For instance, target planning, like
the planning of agricultural production, is a field for "top-down"
planning. Here, the initiative is at the top and, with incentives,
planners will induce farmers to implement their concepts.
However, resource development planning and planning of social
infrastructure are typical fields for "bottom-up"
planning, and the task of the national planning agency is
merely to coordinate, and to outline the limitations produced
by available resources.
This indicates that the? whole question of "up-down"
versus "bottom-up" planning is void. Of importance
is an optimal mix of central and regional planning activities
with a participation of the population Jn keeping-/with the
functions. This is not easy to implement, last but not least,
the difference between planning and implementation as far
as administration and the .persons involved are concerned
plays a great role.
Even local participation often results in some people doing
the planning and some the work, and this division reflects
the local stratification. Although the difficulities are great,
the solution of the problem of local participation and motivation
is a key to the success or failure of any integrated rural