Internationally aided development for arid and semi-arid lands in Kenya: a comparative sociological analysis and a framework for project planning

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Virginia Tech


Majority of the world's poor live in marginal areas. In developing countries, about 60 percent of the poorest population live in hilly vulnerable ecological areas which include arid and semi-arid lands with limited soil fertility, hilly upland areas, and steep slopes. Most of the inhabitants of these areas owe their livelihood primarily to the exploitation of the natural resource. However, the natural resources and ecosystems in these areas have continually undergone severe degradation. Governments and development agencies face a major challenge in their efforts to achieve sustainable development in the world's fragile ecological areas. The poor inhabitants of the world's fragile ecological areas are faced with increasing population pressure, lack of protective infrastructure such as transportation and communication systems, investment, and inadequate technology. These conditions continue to affect their social and economical standards of living. The deteriorating living conditions of the world's poorest population inhabiting arid and semi-arid lands result in a cycle of continued economic decline and land resource destruction. Hence the challenge to focus on development strategies which would break the vicious circle of poverty and environmental degradation. This research employs thematic content analysis as a research technique to do a comparative sociological study of two rural development projects, (Turkana rural development project and Lokitaung pastoral rural development project), in arid and semi-arid Turkana district in Kenya. I propose and use COPETT, (culture, organization, population, environment, technology, and time), a human social-ecological framework as a tool for analysis. Specifically, this study presents a descriptive account of the project's history; the formal development objectives of the Turkana rural development project and Lokitaung pastoral development project as set by NORAD and OXF AM. The study also examines the projects management and the interaction effects with the Turkana people, their culture, organization, environment, and technology. The understanding of the two international development agencies of the concept and the effect of time with regard to culture, organization, population, environment, and technology is also examined.

I argue that the continued use of the project approach to development particularly in rural areas call for an examination and identification of sociological requirements attached to this framework for development intervention. The use ofCOPETT framework for development planning could provide a holistic human-centered development strategy that engenders mobilization and empowerment of the rural population socially, economically, and politically not only in Kenya but also for the world at large. Further, the analysis adopted in this study could serve as a point of departure for understanding ways through which international development agencies could improve on the strategies needed in designing and implementing development projects in order to achieve sustainable development.



rural development