Citizens’ participation and rural development impasse in Tanzania: the Case of Marangu East Ward School Construction Project

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University of Dar es salaam
There has been an ongoing debate as to whether participation is a necessary factor for rural development. Many studies that have been conducted focus mainly on different ways in which participation is used in development initiatives. This paper is about the concept of participation as used in rural development in Tanzania. It takes a different path by examining the significance of participation in promoting rural development in both rhetoric and practice as it has been used in Tanzania’s development strategy since Ujamaa. Furthermore the study examines the importance of participation in neo-liberal era using the project of construction of ward schools in Marangu East ward Tanzania as a case of reference. The results show that: First, both old and new methods of participation are being used by development practitioners in which private patterns connected by social networking are much preferred by the citizen as a new method. Second, there is rhetorical incoherence between citizen participation as self-reliance and as empowerment. The shift from Ujamaa to neo-liberal policies has not changed the nature of participation rather continue to embrace paternalistic participatory tendencies in which citizens are treated as recipients of development initiatives rather than autonomous actors at the centre of development as envisioned in neo-liberal discourses. Third, development projects are not initiated by citizens themselves but imposed on them by either the government or donor agencies. Citizens are seldom consulted before the constructions of the projects begin. Fourth, presence of conflicting priorities between the government and the citizens. Fifth, coercive nature of participation in rural development which occurs when the government needs to introduce a certain program that is not accepted or when there is resistance to what is about to be established. And sixth, low level of motivation by the citizens to willingly participate in certain rural development programs or projects. The paper concludes that since participation is a prominent factor in bringing about development the manner in which it is achieved must be more facilitative than restrictive.
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Rural development, Citizen participation, Tanzania, Marangu east ward school construction project
Mosha, A.P (2012),Citizens’ participation and rural development impasse in Tanzania: the Case of Marangu East Ward School Construction Project , master dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam (available at