Participation and rural development in contemporary Botswana: rhetoric or reality? the case of Mmankgodi village
Seleka, Malatsi L.
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Participatory approaches and methods have over the years been justified as a precondition for sustainable rural development. Participation entails the involvement of in-community stakeholders in the initiation, implementation, and evaluation of development interventions and policies that are designed to change their lives. The study sought to investigate the nature and extent of beneficiary participation in rural development planning and management in Botswana using the village of Mmankgodi as a case study. The research made use of qualitative research methodologies over quantitative as they were ideal for the type of data collected. In-depth interviews and focus group discussions were used as data gathering instruments. In-depth interview respondents were selected using purposive sampling and for focus group discussion participants, snowball sampling was used. The analysis of the data was aided by the use of the Community Action Plan (CAP) framework. Findings revealed that participation in the problem identification, project initiation, implementation and evaluation of rural development projects in Mmankgodi is significantly limited. This is attributed to the centralized nature of rural development processes in Botswana, disjointed participatory structures, lack of a participatory framework, ineffective participatory forums and negative perceptions of development workers towards the community’s input, hence imposing their perceptions of particular development situations undermining those put forward by the community. Based on these findings, and consistent with the wider literature, the recommendation is that a community participation framework be established and adhered to. Establishing sound participatory networks will also be useful as well as taking into account community perceptions of development to improve sustainability of rural development projects.