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Contested Rural Development
By: SDPI
Partner: The National Centre for Competence in Research (NCCR) North-South & Zurich University, Switzerland.
Year: 2008-09
Team Members: Dr. Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Dr. Babur Shahbaz

Introduction:

The programme revolves around rural poverty and inequality which persist across South Asia and beyond, despite the effects of “the market” and myriad development efforts by state departments, donors, and parts of civil society. Several studies by NCCR North-South researchers have confirmed this. At the same time, various heterogeneous “non-state actors and social movements” have arisen that challenge and even resist state-run – mostly “neo-liberal” – development agendas in the region (e.g. peasant and farmers movements; workers movements; caste or religion-based movements; etc.). These actors and movements claim to rightfully represent people’s desire to improve their lives, and adopt approaches ranging from non-violent protest to militancy.

Objectives:

The research explores answer to the following question “Do non-state actors and social movements have the answers to rural poverty and inequality?” The study further investigates the contrast between the stated visions and the on ground practices of non-state actors and social movements with regard to the prevailing acute poverty and inequality in the rural context.

Methodology:

The study primarily uses qualitative tools for interviews. Following are some of the common reasons that were highlighted by the respondents for the emergence of social movements.

  • Inefficiency of the state in providing basic services and human rights
  • Protection of religious and ethnic culture in the region
  • Bringing change in the marketing mechanism/ policy of agriculture produce
  • Gender discrimination
  • Unequal and unjustified distribution/allocation of resources within the province

The organizations/groups or social movements working in the study area can be broadly categorized into the following typology viz. rural development/human rights, cultural identity and religious identity. An inventory of local organizations and movements was prepared and in-depth interviews were conducted from the staff and stakeholders of the selected organizations.