Re-humanizing the development process : on participation, local organizations and social learning as building blocks of an alternative development view in Algeria

M. Malki

    Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


    <p>This study concerns agricultural development planning and policy-making in the context of post-independent Algeria, which went unquestioned for more than three decades. Algeria won its independence in 1962 after 132 years of French colonization. A post-independence State was formed, taking over the colonial power, and set a centralized planning for economic and social development.<p>In the agricultural sector, the effects of this planning model were far-reaching and turned a potential agricultural country <em>par excellence</em> into one of the most net importers of food in the developing world.<p>The onset of this study sterns from the questioning of whether planning, as a fundamental item of the development process, and in addition of being inspired by de-humanizing philosophy and methods, can still be seen as a mere technical discipline. The response of this study is that development planning and policymaking is not only a technical discipline but certainly a political process. By deduction, the development process was and could never be apolitical.<p>The study tries to describe how the influence of different political actors, in particular, and the political system, in general, shape the outcomes of the development process. To achieve this, the study compares two sets of development actions (policies, programmes and projects) planned and implemented under two different political perspectives: the first set represents the authoritarian regime era (1962-1988), based on the one-party system and an arrogant interventionist bureaucracy; the second introduces some development actions conducted during the transitory process of democratization (1988-1998). The study describes in parallel the changes introduced by the process of democratization and how these influenced the conventional development vision adopted by the state in postindependent Algeria.<p>In more a detailed explanation, the study starts first by describing the shortcomings of the conventional development thinking and the different influences that the Algerian development planning system underwent since the independence time. Then, it develops the research hypotheses which will orient the comparison of the two set of development actions presented in this book. Finally, it reflects on the advantages offered by an alternative development view, based on <em>participation, local organizations</em> and <em>social learning,</em> and their effects on the issue of sustainability. In this study, the conceptualization of sustainability refers to the "critical triangle of sustainability" (Oram <em><u>et al</u> ,</em> 1998:1).<p>The basic assumption of this study is that the main condition for a development action to secure some substantial and sustainable outcome resides in the fulfillment of the four following prerequisites formulated by van Dusseldorp (1992:12):<p>1. The possibility of <strong>formulating</strong> a consistent, realistic and durable <strong>set of objectives</strong> , which is <strong>acceptable</strong> to all, or at least to a <strong>large majority of the people</strong> who will be involved in/or and affected by the planned development;<br/>2. The availability of knowledge of all the relevant processes and their interrelationships which have to be influenced to change the present situation in such a way that the objectives will be realized;<br/>3. The <strong>availability of the means and power</strong> to influence these processes;<br/>4. The <strong>political will to use the available means and power</strong> , to influence the relevant processes in order to realize the desired objectives.<p>In most development actions designed for and implemented in Third World countries, these prerequisites were never completely fulfilled, especially in people-centered development actions. More clearly put, in some development actions, sorne prerequisites might have been fulfilled to some extent, but others have never been fulfilled, even to a very small extent. In fact, in the general case, objectives were ill-defined and top-down decided; knowledge was mobilized in a very reductionist way - most of time supposedly rational/scientific - with a complete denial of people's knowledge; means and power were never sufficiently made available, and when available, were not fairly distributed among the needy ones; and finally, the political will was never concretized unless the development action in concern aimed to incorporate, encapsulate and increase control over rural populations, or at sustaining an actual status quo in benefit of the powerful actors.<p>In this context, the study suggests that integration of some features, such as <em>participation</em> , either directly (individually) or indirectly (through <em>local organizations</em> ), on the one hand; and <em>social learning</em> , (either as a flexibility in the project design and implementation and/or as a monitoring & evaluation mechanism), on the one hand, increases the probability of fulfillment of the aforementioned prerequisites.<p>At the level of operationalization of the basic concepts on which the study bases the present work, it faced a dilemma with the concept 'sustainable development'. To which actor or group of actors should development be sustainable in the context of this study? As the implicit and explicit assumptions of this study may suggest, the sustainability of the outcomes of a given development action is posited here to be in line with the interests of the 'hitherto excluded', the disadvantaged segments of the population. Hence, in the context of this study, the pre-requisites and conditions of sustainability rely to a large extent on the centrality of the beneficiaries' knowledge, and the importance of participation of these beneficiaries in their (self-)development. In this order, up till now and for not less than three decades, development actions in Algeria were designed without consultation of their supposed beneficiaries, and yielded a huge gap between the priviligentsia and the disadvantaged. It was thus important that the study focuses more on the impact of beneficiaries' participation and knowledge in steering a given development action towards their needs of development.<p>However, although the study considers that beneficiaries' participation and knowledge is a necessary condition for sustainable development, it is not a sufficient condition <em>per se</em> . This is true given that the so-called beneficiaries are still strongly interacting with other actors that hold a great power of decision, and are extremely self-referent and self-impressed by the rationality and 'scientificality' of their knowledge, such as planners, researchers, development staff, etc. It is, thus, important that the availability of the beneficiaries' knowledge must be acknowledged by these latter actors. Moreover, all this must be supported by a real social learning process whose importance for sustainable development is acknowledged and supported by all social actors who have some interest at stake in a given development action.<p>Consequently, the study aims at answering the following general research and<br/>sub-research question:<br/> <p><em>GQ. How can (direct and indirect) participation of the beneficiaries and the social learning ability of diverse actors acting in the development theater secure sustainable achievements of a people-centered planned development action ?</em><p><em>Ql. To which extent and when is participation of the beneficiaries required in order to steer development actions towards their (self-) development?</em><br/><em>Q2. Which role(s) can local organizations play in the beneficiaries' steering of development actions</em><br/><em>Q3. Which mechanisms are required to make monitoring and evaluation play the role of a learning process in steering development actions?</em><br/><em>Q4. Can the design of a practical methodology be proposed according to the advocated issues in this study, such as participation, local organizations and social learning?</em><br/><em>Q5. What might be the shortcomings of this methodology and what political, institutional, and sociocultural pre-requisites are needed for such a methodology to work?</em><p>The results of the study shows that:<ul><li>Participation since the first step of the development action cycle (problems identification and objectives determination) improved the design and the implementation of development actions. Participation helped the beneficiaries not only to develop a sense of ownership of the development process, but to mobilize their own resources when needed, in addition to public ones.</li><li>Creation of farmers' organizations independently from State-led organizations helped the 'excluded' to improve their access to public resources they were hitherto excluded from. lt sustained participation of the beneficiaries towards a more democratized development and tumed it into a means of sustainable development.</li><li>Embedding the implementation phase of development actions into a learning process, that is a regular, permanent and efficient monitoring and evaluation process, gives a certain flexibility to development. Corrective measures were devised upon knowledge generated by the leaming process and applied in true time, saving time and reducing the waste of resources.</li><li>The 'building blocks' of an alternative development view for Algeria were defined and a methodology needs to be designed its application.</li><li>A process of democratization of social and political life, on the hand, and a reform of the mentality and procedures of the development planning and policy-making system, on the other, are necessary conditions for the application of the alternative development view.</li></ul><p><br/>
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • van Dusseldorp, D.B.W.M., Promotor
    Award date18 May 1999
    Place of PublicationS.l.
    Print ISBNs9789058080356
    Publication statusPublished - 1999


    • rural development
    • development planning
    • participation
    • sustainability
    • algeria
    • state
    • relations between people and state

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