The book gives a practitioner's account of international experiences with rural development seen from a German angle. After 40 years of rural development efforts patterned and characterized by different models and approaches, the overall achievements of these efforts seem very sobering: rural mass poverty has not been overcome; in fact it has hardly been contained in many of the developing regions.
It attempts to explain some of the reasons behind this obvious failure, and concludes that most rural development approaches suffered not only from both organizational and managerial design weaknesses, but were prone to failure because they neglected structural and political distortions in the macroand meso-spheres of the poor countries. Although donors could have seen that their rural development projects were doomed to failure if projects and programmes were not embedded in an enabling policy environment, they nevertheless continued with them.
The book argues for a development co-operation for rural areas that actively supports popular participation, beneficiaries' self-organization, decentralization and, consequently, smaller self-managed (para)projects rather than large, top-down organized rural development projects. Under the conditions of the 1990s the success of rural development will depend largely not only on the creation of an enabling policy environment but also on the skilful~ linking of sectoral programmes and related (para)projects. Essential areas of co-operation in the struggle for greater and more effective orientation towards poverty alleviation are land and tenure reforms, rural financial systems, basic social services and social security systems.