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Rural Development

In: Social Issues

Submitted By shohag30121991
Words 3566
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Chapter: Development Studies

Rural Development

The economy of Bangladesh is based on agriculture. When the question of development arises in this society, the question of rural development comes automatically. It has been accorded the highest priority in our development strategy. It aims at qualitative change in the life pattern of our people.

Definition of Rural Development:
Rural development is the betterment in the totality of life for rural people. According to World Bank (2006), “Rural development is a strategy designed to improve the economic and social life of a specific group of people-the rural poor.”

The Objectives of Rural Development:
The objectives encompass improved productivity, increased employment and thus higher incomes and health. A national programme of rural development should include a mix of activities, including to projects to raise agricultural output, create new employment, improve health and education, expand communications and improve housing.

Importance of Rural Development:
For a country like Bangladesh, rural development is important. The reason behind this is that most of the people of the country are living in the villages. There is a direct link between the rural development and the development of our national economy. The rural sectors contribute about two-thirds of the GDP. We can achieve our cherished goal of financial development by the development of our villages which hold the key to our success.

Specific Targets of Rural Development:
Specific targets of rural development in today's Bangladesh include the rural poor, especially the more disadvantaged groups of women and children. Rural development aims at building the capacity of these target groups to control their surrounding environment accompanied by wider distribution of benefits resulting from such control.
The key elements of rural development: The key elements of rural development in Bangladesh are: (a) poverty alleviation and raising the living standards of the rural poor; (b) equitable distribution of income and wealth; (c) wider employment opportunities; (d) participation of the local people in planning, decision-making, implementation process, benefit sharing, evaluation of rural development programmes, and (e) 'empowerment' or more economic and political power to the rural masses to control the use and distribution of scarce resources.

History of Rural Development in Bangladesh:
Before emerging as an independent state in 1971, Bangladesh had some forms of rural development institutions e.g village-based governments whose origin can be traced back to ancient times. The predominant assignment of these village governments was to collect revenue for the central government followed by other functions as maintenance of law and order and promotion of trade and commerce. The Mughal rulers hardly showed any systematic institutional approach to rural development, except for the construction of limited rural infrastructure and emergency relief operation.
The British created a loyal landed class of zamindars through the Permanent Settlement Act of 1793. The new zamindari system institutionalised the indigenous rural organisations in Bengal and provided the central regime with a sound revenue and political support base. Some philanthropists pioneered a number of localised and limited but laudable programmes in rural development. For example, the great poet Rabindranath Tagore founded the institution of Sriniketan in 1921 to instill the sense of cooperation among the villagers. Under the purview of this institution, the Palli Mangal Samity (village welfare society), health cooperatives, adult education centres, and handicraft training centres were established.
The Village Agricultural and Industrial Development (V-AID) programme, launched in 1953 with technical assistance from the government of United States, marked the first governmental attempt to promote citizens participation in the sphere of rural development in Pakistan. V-AID encompassed all major sectors of rural development such as agriculture, primary education, health, sanitation, cooperatives, land reclamation, physical infrastructure, social and recreational activities. However, the programme largely failed to take roots, as little attention was given to institution-building and community organisations at the grassroots, and all supports were ultimately withdrawn from the project in 1961. The poor performance of V-AID contributed to the conception and development of the Comilla Model of rural development, engineered by the Pakistan Academy of Rural Development (renamed subsequently as Bangladesh Academy for Rural Development (BARD). The four constituent elements of the model were: (a) Rural Works Programme aimed primarily to build communication and drainage network by using local manpower; (b) Thana Training and Development Centre to train villagers on such issues as new agricultural technology, cooperation, citizen's right and obligation; (c) Thana Irrigation Programme to provide irrigation facilities to farmers and to encourage community management of pumps and tube-wells; (d) Two-tier Cooperatives to promote cooperation among villagers by establishing two supplementary cooperative structures, one at the thana level and the other at the village level.
In 1959, a four-tier local government system called the Basic Democracies (BD) was launched by the military government of Mohammad Ayub Khan, consisting of union, thana, district and divisional councils.
Bangladesh, since her birth, witnessed ceaseless experimentation with varied rural development approaches. In the initial years after independence a number of voluntary and public agencies worked to build up the war-torn economy and society primarily in the form of relief and rehabilitation work. In 1972, the government activated the Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP) to replicate and expand the Comilla Model in other parts of the country. Later the programme was transformed into an institution called Bangladesh Rural Development Board (BRDB). The BRDB eventually became the largest government organisation involved in rural development. Its main activities include rural poverty alleviation and production oriented schemes, expansion of the two-tier cooperatives, and target group oriented projects such as the rural women project, rural poor project, and agricultural development project. The Swanirvar (self-reliance) Movement, a government patronised rural development scheme, was launched in 1975. Distinctive features of the movement were the shift of focus of rural development intervention from thana to village level, formation of the institution of Gram Sabha or village assembly consisting of adult members in the village, and preparation of the participatory village plan of development activities. One major documented scheme under the programme was the Ulashi-Jadunathpur Canal Digging Project in Jessore district, which brought 18,000 acres of previously waterlogged land under cultivation by excavating a 4.26km long irrigation canal.
BARD launched the Comprehensive Village Development Programme in 1975 with the principal objective of ameliorating the socio-economic status of all groups of people in a village through a common institutional framework. The BARD also sponsored another experimental programme, the Small Farmers Development Programme with the operational focus on small farmers in 1993. Its broad objective was to organise the target farmers and landless labourers by providing them with necessary inputs and services for production and institution building. Other major governmental rural development projects include the Vulnerable Group Development, Thana Resource Development and Employment Project, Rural Social Service Programme, Community Development Programme, Self-reliance Programme for Rural Women, and technologies for rural employment.
The government's current rural development policy's main emphasis is on employment oriented growth, greater citizen participation in development activities, greater cooperation between public and private sectors, specialised programmes for the disadvantaged groups such as rural poor women, ethnic minorities, children, and the elderly people. Alongside the public initiative, the voluntary and private organisations, more popularly known as the non-governmental Organisations (NGO) cover an wide range of rural development activities including those oriented towards development of income and employment, health and sanitation, agriculture and rural craft, vocational education, relief and rehabilitation, family planning, mother and childcare. There are many NGOs in the country including 89 international ones. Many national NGOs were born out of the relief and rehabilitation activities during the early 1970s. One predominating approach to rural development by the NGOs involves poverty alleviation through rendering small scale credit to the purposively organised groups of rural poor and landless people, commonly coined as the 'micro credit model'. A number of NGOs have achieved national and international reputation through this approach, notably the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC), Grameen Bank, Proshika Manobik Unnayan Kendra, ASA and Rangpur-Dinajpur Rural Service.

Dimensions of Rural Development:
The rural areas of Bangladesh face multifarious problems. Unless the problems are attacked from all dimensions no improvement of rural Bangladesh can be expected. The matter deserves most serious thought by all and requires to draw up a dynamic programme and action plan to achieve rural development a success.

Agriculture: The majority of the people of Bangladesh live in rural areas and therefore the development of rural areas means development in agriculture which constitute the heart of our national development. At present, agriculture accounts for about one-third of GDP and employs about two-third of the labour force.
The main cause of low productivity of our agriculture is the primitive method of cultivation. In this model, a pair of bullocks and a wooden plough are the typical agricultural equipment used. A larger tractor can cultivate about 300 to 320 acres of land per day to a depth of about 12 inches. In western societies, the modern equipments are being used which influence to grow more production. Such mechanical equipments economies labour and increase the productivity per acre of land.
The role of agriculture in poverty reduction is interlinked with other features. These features are: social safety net, rural infrastructure development, micro-credit and other targeted programmes. It is absolutely necessary to focus on key areas by the public sector programmes e.g agricultural research, extension, seed development, marketing linkages and information networking, soil fertility and fertilizer use efficiency and integrated area and farming systems. The irrigated cropland can be expanded through appropriate land and water management. Good management of land can raise soil productivity along with expansion of irrigations system which would enable more production per unit of land and water.

Population and Family Welfare:
The unprecedented population growth of Bangladesh is one of the most serious national problems we are facing ate the moment All our problems centered round the population problem.
Fertility rate and its implication for economic growth have become increasingly important in our predominantly agrarian economy because our development plans aim at increasing per capita income, and standard of living of the majority of the people of the villages. The problem of population growth in relation to economic development involves a series of consideration of:
a. the size of population
b. the rate of population growth; and
c. the age distribution pattern of the existing population of the country.

The government of Bangladesh give special emphasis on population control programmes. And in doing so, social and cultural taboo have to be considered. In 2005 the government of Bangladesh adopted a comprehensive population policy which accords high priority to population control programme.

Education:
Education is the basic need for socio-economic transformation and advancement of a country. It is the prime ingredient of human resources development. In our society educational development was not adequately geared to meet this human need. Without educating people it is impossible to achieve rural as well as national development. Various programmes have undertaken by the government to improve the quality of primary education. To increase enrolment in primary schools and reduce dropout of students in rural areas, Food for Education Programme and stipends have been introduced. NGOs are also involved in formal and non-formal education in the country.
The goals of education must be thought in terms of overall national development including not only on economic expansion but also on human, social and political development. The technical and vocational school/institute should be established to facilitate the rural development in every thana. Compulsory primary education programme as well as mass education programme should be made more effective through local government and community support.

Rural Credit:
The current philosophy of development enunciated by the present government has been able to bring about a change in the attitude of the people from the grass-root level. But as they are poor and disorganized, they cannot take initiative without financial help. This credit encourages the investment of capital. Taking credit one could build cottage or other industries which derive an income from on the one hand and facilitate to achieve rural development by increasing production and recruiting new labour on the other. Thus introducing credit system at the local level helps achieve overall development by developing agriculture, irrigation, cottage industries, education, etc. Micro-credit is playing important role in rural areas to change the lot of poor people. Bangladesh has already achieved impressive success in extending micro-credit facility to the assetless poor people who were earlier considered ‘non-bankable’ under the traditional collateral-based financial practices. The success of the micro-credity model of Grameen Bank has been widely acknowledge in the world and has spread out to over 50 countries. A large number of NGOs as well as government agencies now have adopted the micro-credit model in extending credit support to poor, particularly women. There has been rapid expansion of micro-credit programmes over the last decade. The average annual disbursement of loan from these programme stands over taka 5000 crore (near US$1 billion). The average number of borrowers would be about 5million of which 90 percent are poor women. The general repayment performance is about 90 percent.
The micro-credit aim to promote income and employment for the poor alongwith their social and economic empowerment. It is the major source of institutional credit for the rural poor and enables the poor to adopt productivity raising technologies in agriculture and promote a wide range of activities in non-agriculture sector

Rural Industry:
It has already been proved that there has been a tremendous population pressure on the limited land in our society. It can not bear the weight and its agriculture at its present stage of development is absolutely inadequate to feed its teeming millions. Unless and until the dependence of the people on the land is minimized, the solution of the problem would not be so easy. We can say that industrialization in rural areas could be one of the best measures to transfer the part of the said pressure. Almost all the developing countries of the present world take the philosophy of industrialization as a means of economic development and that’s why all the developed countries are industrially developed. In the United States only about 12.81 per cent of the total labour force in engaged in agricultural sector and in UK it is only about 5 per cent. The US has got the highest per capita income in the world. In our society it employs 81 per cent of the total working population in agriculture and as a result the per capita income is among the lowest in the world. So any programme for industrialization must have due emphasis on the rural industrialization.

Women Development:
The goal of rural development of our society is to increase the well-being and quality life of the population through growth with social justice. This includes women as well as men. Women are nearly half of the population (49.47 per cent of total population). They represent a half of the nation’s human resources and thus a half of its potential. The burden of poverty continues to fall disproportionately on women. The underlying factors are low literacy rate, low nutrition, low income with discriminating wage differentials compared to men, low life expectancy and high morbidity. Empowering the women is crucial both for its intrinsic value as a government goal and as instrument for bringing about favourable social and economic change.

The constitution of Bangladesh ensured the rights of women. They are:
i. Article 27 : All citizens are equal before the law and entitled to equal protection of the law; ii. Article 28 (1) : The state shall not discriminate against any citizen on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. iii. Article 28 (2) : Women have equal rights with men in all spheres of the state and public life; iv. Article 28 (4) : Nothing shall prevent the state from making special provision in favour of women or for the advancement of any backward section of the population.

Though women play a major role in the functioning of the household and the economy, they are generally not considered outside the domestic sphere. National statistics have not been able to account for their contribution in the form of domestic work and unpaid labour in family ventures. Without their participation in rural development it is impossible to achieve overall development. It is worth mentioning that participation rate of females in the labour force is increasing at a faster rate than that of males. Women’s role and contribution as productive agents is crucial to attain a certain standard of living for the family is increasingly being recognised.

Realising the fact that no meaningful development can be made without equal participation of men and women, government has undertaken integrated programme targeting to ensure women’s participation into development efforts. Most of the development projects have component for economic empowerment and poverty alleviation, which directly or indirectly help women to become self-reliant.

Role of the Government and the NGOs
To eradicate illiteracy from the country, compulsory primary education, food for education programme, education programme for the old have been introduced by the government.
The government has set up hospitals and health centres at the thana and union level. Green Umbrella Programme is another initiative of the government in this respect.
To strengthen the participation of the village people in the administration, the government of Bangladesh has enacted a bill in the parliament. Besides, women’s participation at the union parishad level has been ensured. The government is encouraging the people to invest in the rural areas.
Side by side with the government, many non-government organisations are also making concerted efforts to develop the rural areas. CARITAS, CARE, ASA, BRAC, PROSHIKA etc. are the names of some famous organisations that are working for the development of the villages in Bangladesh. They are offering micro credits for farming, housing, education etc. Grameen Bank is another prominent organisation working for the undeveloped rural people. This organisation has been more successful to improve the condition of the villagers than any other organisation. Even the model of Grameen Bank is adopted by many organistions in abroad.
Moreover, many international organisations also help directly or indirectly to implement the projects taken for the rural development. CIRDAP is an example of such organisation. The head quarter of this organisation is situated in Dhaka. In fact this kind of organisation helps the rural people financially, technically and technologically. The World Bank, UNDP, UNICEF, FAO, WHO etc. are some of the international organisations which are contributing a lot to the rural development.

Weaknesses of Rural Development Programmes
From an analysis of the past experiences in rural development efforts, a number of major problems can be identified which frustrated the successful performance of such efforts. The major problems include instability of rural development institutions, inefficient and corrupt leadership, abuse of local government institutions by the central regimes, lack of an articulated rural development policy, inequitable distribution of benefits arising out of the rural development programmes, limited natural and logistic resources, elite dominance in rural development planning and action, and an inconducive rural society. The general characteristics of the rural socio-economic structure of Bangladesh pose a challenge to effective implementation of rural development schemes. The characteristics include low level of capital formulation, dependence of the economy on agriculture, lack of skilled and educated manpower, unemployment, inflation, ever increasing dependence on foreign assistance, rapid population growth, rural political factionalism and instability, frequent natural disasters, underdeveloped market and fiscal institutions, and investment in unproductive sectors.

Steps to be taken for Rural Development:

1. At first, educated and skilled people should change their attitude regarding rural area. It is impossible to enhance effort for rural development if literate and skilled people do not want to go back to the village and work for village people.

2. No development work will be effective if the rural people remain illiterate. So, we have to overcome illiteracy problem as soon as possible.

3. More standard health facilities have to be given to the rural people. At the same time, malnutrition has to be removed, because sound health is the precondition of development.

4. Micro-credit facilities should be increased. If this can be ensured, village people will be able to run small-scale business and cottage industies.

5. The government should establish mor technical and vocational institutes to make the village people skilled in the concerned field. Mass media like the TV, radio, newspapers etc. can play important role in this respect.

6. Government should supply modern technology at a cheap rate among the rural people and encourage them to use it. Specially, agro-based instuments have to be modernised.

7. To ensure sustainable development comprehensive development programme should be taken.

Rural development is the pre-condition for overall progress of a country. It is a matter of hope that some programmes have been taken by our government for the rural development. The NGO’s are playing vital role in this connection. In spite of that, more pragmatic steps need to be adopted. All kinds of people have to come forward to boost up the rural development. Proper utilisation of natural resources including man power must be ensured. If this can be done, Bangladesh may be a proud nation with her 68000 villages.

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