Paper

Rural Development, Environmental Sustainability, and Poverty Alleviation: A Critique of Current Paradigms

Examining new approaches to development
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This paper raises questions about current paradigms of integrated rural development, environmental sustainability, and poverty alleviation, such as decentralization, civil society, microentrepreneurship, anti-industrialization and capacity building. It illustrates its points with examples from Africa.

Donors have developed new micro-level and local paradigms that aim to substitute for badly functioning and corrupt states. There are, however, many problems associated with these paradigms, such as:

  • Governments still set the macro-economic, legal and policy parameters within which other entities operate;
  • Many non-state actors are only nominally independent;
  • New paradigms of development ignore the reality of poorly functioning, corrupt governments that contribute to poverty and often destroy development;
  • Technical initiatives stemming from these paradigms, aimed at growth and equity are often theoretically misconceived and tend to fail when implemented;
  • Most of these new paradigms raise conceptual problems and operational difficulties when they are implemented;
  • New paradigms bear little relationship to the realities experienced by rural poor on a daily basis.

Finally, the paradigms tend to represent desired end states, with little concrete understanding between means and ends.

About this Publication

By Mueller, S.
Published