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Integration of community development with community and regional planning Bofah, Robert Kwaku Buor

Abstract

Developing countries are experiencing social and economic transformation which many countries have already experienced at some periods during the course of their history. In the rural areas of developing countries this transformation has taken the form of 'community development.' Community development is a process and a method by which the government mobilizes the initiative and energy of especially rural communities to improve their living conditions, through its financial and technical assistance. Up to date, over thirty countries have full-fledged community development programmes. As a result of different cultural practices of these countries, the diversity of their political and administrative organizations, their economic conditions, and, a multiplicity of other factors, the programmes have been tailored to suit the particular needs of each country. The programmes can be classified into three main types: integrative, adaptive, and project types. The extent to which the programmes are contributing to the development of rural areas constitutes the central problem which this paper seeks to examine. An assumption made is that, provided the programmes are well designed and administered, they can contribute substantially to rural development. Four important areas of activity of community development programmes; namely, agriculture, land reform, cottage and small-scale industries, and capital or physical facilities, such as roads, schools, health centres, and land reclamation, have critically been examined against the background of community and regional planning. In examining these contributions, it has been discovered that they are on the whole unsatisfactory because of the following reasons: (a) administrative difficulties created by the lack of co-ordination of activities between community development agencies and other government agencies; (b) ineffective community development techniques, such as, 'planning from below' and voluntary contribution of labour. Since the programmes are not making satisfactory contribution to rural development it is suggested that the government should play a dominant role in the planning of programmes. In essence, community development techniques should be integrated with community and regional planning techniques. Using Ghana as a test-case, it is also considered that community and regional planning can be useful, provided administrative difficulties are removed by establishing one central agency for community development under the highest administrator. In conclusion, it is determined that community development, through its multi-purpose programmes, attempts to solve socio-economic problems of rural communities, but its techniques are ineffective to solve these problems. Hence community development techniques must be integrated with the more effective techniques of community and regional planning.

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