Peasants' participation in rural development projects in Rwanda

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University of Dar es Salaam
The present research was designed to examine the underlying causes and specific forces which have led to the ineffectiveness of Rural Development Projects in Rwanda, especially their inability to curb the problem of hunger and malnutrition. Specifically, it tries to find out the extent of peasants' participation in those projects, and whether that participation determines the projects' success. The research design is based on the Agricultural Project of Gitarama (PAG) as a case study. However, it is hoped that the research findings will be applicable to all rural development projects in the country. The study is divided into six chapters. The first chapter provides background information on the country as well as an overview of its rural development policy. It also includes the research problem, purpose and significance of the study as well as the hypotheses made. The second chapter establishes the relationship between the shortage of arable land, high population growth and self-sufficiency in food production, at the national Ievel. The third chapter is devoted to a literature survey. It defines the major concepts essential to this study, namely peasants and rural development. It also discusses the two major approaches to peasants' participation in rural development, namely the "top-down" and the "bottom-up" rural development strategies, and argues in favour of the bottomup approach. The fourth chapter focuses on methodology. It outlines the general approach and scope of the study, instruments of data collection, sampling procedures and instruments of data analysis. It also gives the limitations and technical problems encountered during field work. The fifth chapter presents empirical data findings. The major finding is that peasants have been assigned very little role in the planning, implementation, and decision-making processes of PAG. However, the study shows that the project has had more effect on those peasants who were involved in it. This situation was attributed to the divergent interests pursued by the various projects' partners, poor popularization techniques and lack of consensus about key concepts like peasants and rural development. The sixth chapter summarizes what has been discussed in the study, and gives recommendations aimed at increasing peasants' participation in all developmental programs. The most important recommendation is that rural planning strategies must shift from the "top-down" to the "bottom-up" approach, which-is democratic and safeguards lower classes from being dominated and exploited. It is also suggested that peasants must have full control over the project's finances and personnel. This can be achieved only if peasants form in advance their civil organizations to defend their own interests against dominating classes and the state.
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Peasantry, Rwanda, Rural development
Twagilimana, U (1991) Peasants' participation in rural development projects in Rwanda, masters dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam. Available at (