Analysis of the rural development experience in the former Transkei : the case of Xalanga District.
The period after World War II has witnessed an upsurge in the interest in the plight of the people entrapped in desperate poverty and deprivation in the Third World countries. However, even with the focus on underdeveloped countries, the number of rural poor in the Third World continues to increase and their living conditions degrade. The crux of the problem is that the rural poor cannot contribute significantly to their own development owing to the nherent inequalities in the distribution of production factors and the benefits economic development and technological advancements under the umbrella of capitalism. In response t.o this, rural development is a deliberate intervention programme designed to augment the coping strategies of the rural poor by drawing them gradually into the mainstream of development action in an attempt to alleviate rural poverty and misery, and empower them to realise their potential and human dignity. This thesis is a critical evaluation of the rural development process and its impact on the living conditions of the rural poor in the former Transkei with special reference to Xalanga District. Transkei and Xalanga District have been chosen for the study because the former is the poorest and most populous ex-homeland and the latter is the poorest district in the former Transkei. The roles of rural development functionaries, in terms of their policies, programmes, practices and achievements, and the living conditions, needs, aspirations and perceptions of the beneficiaries came under the spotlight. Rural development is a multi-faceted concept therefore the approach of the study was eclectic, rooted in the realist and structurationist philosophies; and the data solicited was analysed both quantitatively and qualitatively. The quantitative techniques employed were factor and discriminant analyses The study revealed that the rural development process in the sub-region is fraught with administrative, political and social, fmancial and technical constraints. Consequently, the process has not had any significant impact on the living conditions of the rural poor with regard to the alleviation of rural poverty, unemployment and inequalities in the distribution of incomes and assets. Besides, it has not created sound economic bases in the rural areas and has thus failed to empower the rural people to take effective charge of their lives. The development efforts continue to be concentrated in the urban and peri-urban areas, causing considerable imbalances in the spatial development of the territory. On the basis of the outcome of the research, some suggestions have been offered for a meaningful rural development programme for the former Transkei.