Decentralized Rural Development and Enhanced Community Participation: A Case Study from Northeast Brazil

60 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016

See all articles by Johan van Zyl

Johan van Zyl

University of Pretoria; World Bank

Tulio Barbosa

World Bank

Andrew N. Parker

World Bank

Loretta Sonn

World Bank

Date Written: August 1995

Abstract

The positive experience with the latest rural development intervention in Northeast Brazil suggests that rapid progress can be made if community participation is enhanced and decisionmaking authority is decentralized to lower levels of government and other institutions. In Northeast Brazil, despite sustained efforts to reduce rural poverty and more than $3.2 billion in spending, the rural poor are little better off than they were two decades ago.

Brazil's difficult macroeconomic environment has tended to restrict the amount of funds available for rural development. In addition, project implementation has often been seriously undermined by the excessive centralization of decisionmaking in Brazil prior to the approval of a new constitution in 1988. A preliminary evaluation of the latest rural development intervention in the Northeast - the reformulated Northeast Rural Development Program - suggests that rapid progress can be made if community participation is enhanced and decisionmaking authority is decentralized to lower levels of government and other institutions.

To support this new approach, van Zyl, Barbosa, Parker, and Sonn recommend that the next generation of rural development projects in the Northeast incorporate several features:

Expansion of the existing commmunity-based approach into a municipal fund program. This hands responsibility for the management of fiscal resources and project implementation to municipalities and communities, further promoting decentralization of decisionmaking and encouraging greater municipal cost-sharing on projects.

Implementation of a poverty-targeting methodology based on poverty-related criteria, backed by a strong system of checks and balances to thwart mistargeting and misappropriation of resources.

Establishment of clear rules for the composition and operating procedures of municipal councils, to improve participation and transparency.

Establishment of a system of checks and balances to promote transparency. This paper - a product of the Sector Policy and Water Resources Division, Agriculture and Natural Resources Department - is part of a larger effort in the department to develop a new strategy for rural development.

Suggested Citation

van Zyl, Johan and Barbosa, Tulio and Parker, Andrew N. and Sonn, Loretta, Decentralized Rural Development and Enhanced Community Participation: A Case Study from Northeast Brazil (August 1995). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=620546

Johan Van Zyl (Contact Author)

University of Pretoria ( email )

Physical Address Economic and Management Sciences
Pretoria, Gauteng 0002
South Africa

World Bank

1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Tulio Barbosa

World Bank

1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Andrew N. Parker

World Bank

1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Loretta Sonn

World Bank

1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

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