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 process.

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 development programme.