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Decentralized rural development and enhanced community participation : a case study from Northeast Brazil

Listed author(s):
  • van Zyl, Johan
  • Barbosa, Tulio
  • Parker, Andrew N.
  • Sonn, Loretta
Registered author(s):

    In Northeast Brazil, despite sustained efforts to reduce rural poverty and more than $3.2 billion in spending, the rural poor are little better off than they were two decades ago. Brazil's difficult macroeconomic environment has tended to restrict the amount of funds available for rural development. In addition, project implementation has often been seriously undermined by the excessive centralization of decisionmaking in Brazil prior to the approval of a new constitution in 1988. A preliminary evaluation of the latest rural development intervention in the Northeast - the reformulated Northeast Rural Development Program - suggests that rapid progress can be made if community participation is enhanced and decisionmaking authority is decentralized to lower levels of government and other institutions. Tosupport this new approach, the authors recommend that the next generation of rural development projects in the Northeast incorporate several features: 1) expansion of the existing community-based approach into a"municipal fund"program. This hands responsibility for the management of fiscal resources and project implementation to municipalities and communities, further promoting decentralization of decisionmaking and encouraging greater municipal cost-sharing on projects; 2) implementation of a poverty-targeting methodology based on poverty-related criteria, backed by a strong system of checks and balances to thwart mistargeting and misappropriation of resources; 3) establishment of clear rules for the composition and operating procedures of municipal councils, to improve participation and transparency; and 4) establishment of a system of checks and balances to promote transparency.

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    Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 1498.

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    Date of creation: 31 Aug 1995
    Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1498
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