The use of micro-project as a strategy for ‘area’ development

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Rural areas which are prominent and dominant with regard to food production, employment and income in developing countries are neglected in terms of socio—economic development. The resultant physical, political and economic degeneration of the rural areas has attracted the attention of many Development Economists and Planners. Their attempt to reverse this trend has manifested a concept referred to as rural development. Developed countries have shown much sympathy for rural development efforts in developing countries. They therefore continue to make money and other material resources available to help development in rural areas. It has, however, been observed that despite the numerous grants and aid to help rural development the sector does not show any improvement. The main problem was identified to the inability of past strategies, aimed at rural development, to consider and critically analyse, the actual demands relevant to “area” development. Social laboratories are being used to evolve new strategies for comprehensive rural development programme at the community level that can provide rural residents with development information and organisational assistance and integrate the various activities that form rural development efforts into a comprehensive stem. If such a system was evolved how effective could it he made to work is what this studies set out to find. This study conceived, from the onset, that with the present economic stringency of the government, any meaningful development in the rural areas could only be done with the active support of foreign aid. Foreign aid programme in Ghana aimed at rural development were therefore critically studied. Strategies for rural development in some developing nations were also reviewed. It was found out that those countries that had achieved some appreciable measure of success in their rural development effort embarked on programmes that gave priority to projects that were initiated at the community level. Invariably such projects solved some felt needs and they had a built-in self-sustenance. The other things that were provided from outside the community to complement the communal efforts were materials to implement the projects and technical expertise to supervise implementation of the projects. A study of the foreign aid programmes revealed that one of them, the micro-project, was aimed at helping rural communities to cultivate the spirit of self-help. Essentially the micro-project programme was designed to ensure a definite step forward of the community, first, to improve their conditions of living and second, to raise their standard of living. It was also found out that the whole concept of micro-project is based on the idea that projects should satisfy felt needs of the local people. Such projects normally result from deliberations of the local people. This study came to the conclusion that the development of an area, whether regional, district, or rural, demands a well-planned strategy the implementation of which should depend on the goodwill of a greater proportion of the residents of the area. Freewill public participation in development projects coupled with well informed directives and guide are prerequisites for sustained efforts in an area development. It has been recommended that any government that feels capable of supplying such inputs as will be required by micro-projects can adopt the micro-project strategy for effective rural development programme. Caution has, however, been sounded that like any other strategy bureaucratic dominance and bottlenecks could negate its developmental potential.
A thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of the Degree of Master of Science in Regional Planning, 1984