Project Management in Rural DevelopmentCasidra
Between government and conventional market forces lies a sometimes overlooked but strategically valuable economic arena that is vitally important with regard to sustainable development of land, upliftment of people, and the creation of job opportunities. Despite rapid urbanisation, rural areas still host the poorest people. Working to alleviate this poverty requires critical interventions on an on-going basis with the backing of both public and private sectors.
How does project management work?
Project management will begin by examining any activity required to improve a presented problem within a rural area. Each project is allocated set goals, a timeframe and specified resources to get the job done. From the outset, projects require:
- clear understanding of the stakeholders and their needs
- clear understanding of key processes to be undertaken
- effective planning, organising and management of resources
- overseeing management of each step
- monitoring and support for the learning outcomes of the community involved.
Planning with the people
Intervention should be specific and driven by the unique needs of each rural region. Project management in rural development should be a dedicated process of analysis, communication, education, training, and tactically planned implementation. In short, projects should not be for the people, but carefully guided to be by the people.
With the people as the main consideration in any development strategy, respect for fundamental rights, traditions and cultural identity becomes prime. Social sensitivity becomes defined through all negotiations and decision-making processes to improve job creation, quality of life and economic growth.
- While each project is designed to bring about a host of improvements to rural life, it should be planned in conjunction with grassroots people who are able to inform on both development needs and local resources.
- The focus of the project would be to ensure that the regional role-players are able to take collective action for the betterment of their community.
- At the same time market forces still play a valuable role in innovation. There is ongoing competition for investment, business development, agricultural ventures, labour, tourism, etc, which means opportunities will always arise for those with a canny eye for business and the value of rural encouragement.
- In such scenarios, regional development managers who can actively steer the development process through strong collective vision should be especially selected for assignments. Efficient project management is vital to keeping people focused and motivated, and the initiative on track to fulfil its goals.
The importance of monitoring and evaluating
Monitoring and evaluating the success of projects in rural areas is fundamental to gauging impact on poverty and developmental achievements. With every project there should be strong emphasis on a learning approach, so that not only is the project completed successfully, but the community is left supported and revitalised with better decision-making abilities and sense of responsibility.
Your primary stakeholders, investment partners (government and/or private sector) plus project staff should also benefit from interactions that improve interventions on a continual basis, ensuring that results are worth the interest and involvement of all concerned, never losing sight of the ultimate objective – that the rural poor receive the maximum benefit of the project.
The importance of learning
- While rural projects are efficient instruments to motivate development in general, they must in addition, also create directly beneficial relationships with the local community – because every efficient enterprise should help people to learn, to socially organise, and to understand the importance of collective co-operation.
- Ultimately, the outcome should be a community better able to care for itself, to take the initiative, and to apply skills developed in each project.
- In order to learn, people must be involved in the process of formulation, implementation and management of the project. Any rural development project should involve getting people to work together in a community.
- People need to experience real change to feel a sense of knowledge, and of mutual learning. This increases confidence, empowerment and self-esteem.
Managing projects, seeing results
Casidra is the acronym for Cape Agency for Sustainable Integrated Development in Rural Areas. Casidra works to implement and manage projects specifically designed to improve the lives of people and alleviate poverty. With our mandate as Agricultural and Economic Development within a Rural and Land reform context, we see ourselves as a catalyst for growth and sustainability, maximising outcomes by ensuring that we make a difference in people’s lives through effective project management.
Find out more about us at: www.casidra.co.za