Assessment of Eritrean rural development projects and their impacts

Kidane Gerbremariam, T. (2004-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2004.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Development, a non-ceasing phenomenon as long as mankind has dwelt on this planet, IS a complex matter which encompasses the three bottom-lines, i.e. social, economic and environmental aspects and aims at improving the quality of life. In fact, development issues are always challenging countries and their leaders as they try to introduce strategies and projects to benefit their rural sector which constitutes, especially in developing countries, most of the population who are living in poverty and continuing to stagger in very destitute level. One of these countries is Eritrea, a nation of which more than 80% live in rural areas and which is rated one of the lowest twenty nations on the human development index (measurement of literacy, health and life expectancy status) as well as the human poverty index of which 53% of the population lived below national poverty line during the period of 1987 to 2000 (UNDP, 2002). This paper is an attempt to discuss rural development and how it is being implemented in relation to Eritrea's reconstructions and rehabilitation efforts that took place after its freedom from foreign occupation. It is an assessment on the rural projects' planning and implementation process, and eventually also looks at the impacts they have on the life of the beneficiaries. As a whole, this research paper consists of an introduction and nine chapters. It can be classified into five parts, i.e. the theoretical literature, the country's status in specific fields, the sample research areas, an overall synthesis and lastly conclusions and recommendations as one part. The theoretical background revolves around rural areas and their reasons for poverty, different development theories within which rural development could be seen as one ingredient, and focuses on participatory rural development where projects can play vital roles in changing life style especially when they are managed in an integrated way touching main areas of need. The second section of the paper is a general overview of the socio-economic status of Eritrea and some of the efforts made by the government. These are mainly the health, education, water supply, agriculture and darn construction projects, accomplished mainly by government in partnership with domestic and foreign NGOs, whereas the same time people contributed mainly in kind. In relation to these five projects the researcher has drawn up questionnaires and personally filled them in five villages, namely Sheeb, Ade-awhi, Korbariaya, Azien and Wara, while at the same time holding discussions with the beneficiaries. In this section the assessment of the people's state and their response in relation to the planning process as well as impacts of the projects on their lives have been made for every village. In other words, the chapter shows the practical data analysis of the research. The next is, in similar form, an overall synthesis of the research. The researcher weighs and analyses the results in relation to planning issues, especially how far the people played a role in participation and the extent of their influence as well as their contentment with the end result in comparison to their expectations. Moreover, it investigates the projects' impact on the environment, and their influence on the socio-economic lives of the beneficiaries, and then sees how the projects have been managed at institutional level and whether the policies that are in effect have direct influence on initiating rural development projects. Finally some conclusions are drawn and recommendations are made that could be a benchmark for further studies and provide impetus to accelerate the present rural development planning and implementation. The researcher may have overlooked some necessary elements or missed some basic factors in dealing the current way of initiating development. But with the resources were available and the time at his disposal, while faced by the limitations explained in the introductory section of the paper, the researcher has made some efforts to highlight his convictions to the best of his academic ability. The sole purpose of his final statements is based on his wish for more rural upliftment and long-term as well as sustainable benefit to the rural people of his country, Eritrea.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Ontwikkeling, 'n verskynsel wat nie ophou nie, bestaan al so lank as wat daar lewe op die planeet bestaan. Dit is 'n ingewikkelde saak wat drie aspekte behels: die sosiale, ekonomiese en omgewings aspekte en die doel daarvan is om lewensgehalte te verbeter. Ontwikkelingskwessies stel 'n uitdaging aan die leiers van lande; die regerings moet stategië uitwerk en projekte van stapel stuur wat die landelike sektor sal bevoordeel en veral in ontwikkelende lande, woon die grootste gedeelte van die bevolking op die platteland waar hulle gebuk gaan onder armoede. Eritrea is een van hierdie lande. 80% van die mense van Eritrea woon op die platteland. Etritrea word gereken as een van die twintig onontwikkelste lande op die menslike ontwikkelings indeks (wat geletterdheid, gesondheid en lewensverwagting meet) en ook op die menslike armoede indeks. 53% van die bevolking het vir die tydperk 1987 tot 2000 onder die nasionale armoedelyn geleef (UNDP, 2002). In hierdie studie word landelike ontwikkeling bespreek en hoe dit geïmplementeer is tydens die rekonstruksie en rehabilitasie pogings na die onafhanklikheid van Eritrea. Dit is 'n waardebepaling van die beplanning en implementasie van die landelike projekte en kyk ook na die impak wat dit op die lewens van die landelike bevolking gehad het. In die geheel bestaan hierdie studie uit 'n inleiding en nege hoofstukke. Dit kan in vyf afdelings ingedeel word: teoretiese literatuur, die stand van die land betreffende spesifieke gebiede, die navorsingsgebiede, 'n oorsigtelike sintese en ten laaste die gevolgtrekkings en aanbevelings. In die teoretiese agtergrond gaan dit om die landelike gebiede en die redes vir armoede, asook die ontwikkelingsteorië waarin landelike ontwikkeling gesien word as een bestandeel. Dit fokus op deelnemende landelike ontwikkeling waarin projekte 'n belangrike rol kan speel om die lewensgehalte te verbeter, veral as dit bestuur word op 'n geïntegreerde wyse en die grootste behoeftes aanspreek. Die tweede afdeling is 'n algemene oorsig van die sosio-ekonomiese stand van Eritrea en van die regering se pogings om dit te verbeter. Die vyf projekte wat betudeer is, is gemoeid met gesondheid, onderwys, water voorsiening, landbou en die konstruksie van damme. Die regering het hierdie projekte onderneem in vennootskap met plaaslike en buitelandse nie-regerings organisasies (NGOs) maar die bevolking self het ook 'n bydrae gemaak, gewoonlik in die vorm van arbeid. Met betrekking tot hierdie vyf projekte het die navorser vraelyste opgestel en dit persoonlik in die vyf dorpies naamlik Sheeb, Ade-awhi, Korbariaya, Azien en Wara voltooi terwyl hy dan ook besprekings met die bevolking gehou het. In hierdie afdeling word daar vir elke dorpie'n waardebepaling gedoen van die toestand van die mense en hulle reaksie op die beplanningsproses asook die impak van die projek op hulle lewe. Dan volg 'n oorsigtelike sintese van die navorsing. Die navorser weeg die resultate op en analiseer dit veral betreffende beplanning en tot hoe verre die mense self 'n rol gespeel het, hoeveel invloed hulle gehad het en of die resultaat aan hulle verwagtings voldoen. Die studie kyk ook na die impak van die projek op die omgewing en die invloed wat dit gehad het op die sosio-ekonomiese lewens van diegene wat veronderstel is om voordeel daaruit te trek. Daar word gekyk na hoe die projekte op hoër vlak bestuur is en of regeringsbeleid 'n invloed het op die beplanning van landelike ontwikkelingsprojekte. Dan word gevolgtrekkings en aanbeveling gemaak wat tot nut kan wees vir ander navorsers en kan lei tot beter en vinniger beplanning en implementasie van landelike ontwikkelings projekte. Die navorser het dalk per abuis sekere elemente en basiese faktore oorgesien maar met die hulpbronne en tyd tot sy beskikking asook die beperkings wat in die inleiding tot die studie bespreek word, het hy sy oortuigings op skrif gestel tot die beste van sy vermoë. Hy hoop dat sy aanbevelings sal lei tot groter landelike ontwikkeling op die lang termyn en dat die mense van sy land, Eritrea, die volgehoue voordeel sal trek.

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