Beyond the rhetoric of empowerment: speak the language, live the experience of the rural poor
PublisherSpringer Netherlands. http://www.springerlink.com
MetadataShow full item record
Growth in rural communities, along with attendant changes in social, economic and environmental conditions, challenges members of these communities to take even more responsibility for their lives than in the past. While there is a need to promote sustainable economic prosperity, it is important that developmental approaches should not compromise the potential of citizens to meet these challenges independently. The present contribution is based on a phenomenological study that explored approaches to community development in Botswana. One of the key findings was that these were dominated by a bureaucratized welfare scheme, as the government gave free food and farming implements to poor people in an approach referred to as atlhama-o-je (‘open-your-mouth-and-eat’). The present contribution reflects on the consequences of using this type of approach, arguing that instead of bringing real hope to the rural poor, it generated counterproductive attitudes. In conclusion, the authors suggest alternative strategies that take account of the life experiences of the rural poor and render them less dependent on government intervention for their well-being.