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close this bookSpatial Analysis for Regional Development (United Nations University, 1980, 44 p.)
View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentIntroduction
View the document1. Marginal resources and regional development
View the document2. Spatial dimensions of regional resource development
View the document3. Background and concept of the "urban functions in rural development" projects
View the document4. Selection of the Bicol river basin
View the document5. Principles of organization and methodology selection
View the document6. Analytical methods and planning procedures
View the document7. Conclusions and implications
View the documentReferences
View the documentOther UNU publications

7. Conclusions and implications

Experience with development in the Third World over the past three decades clearly indicates that traditional macroeconomic approaches to accelerating growth will have little effect on ameliorating poverty in marginal regions with spatial structures such as that in the Bicol River Basin. Simply reallocating national investments more equitably among regions or favouring those previously given low priority, although necessary, are not sufficient to reduce spatial inequalities, incorporate marginal populations, or increase the access of the poor to the resources necessary to free them from poverty. Similarly, traditional "growth centre" approaches to spatial planning are likely to exacerbate already severe urban and rural differences within regions. Given the highly skewed, poorly articulated, and weakly linked settlement hierarchies within rural regions, these policies often replicate national patterns of economic dualism at the regional level, leaving the vast majority of the rural poor living in scattered villages with little access to the benefits of investments concentrated in the growth centres.

Instead, a strategy combining reallocation of national investments among regions and the selective location of various combinations of infrastructure, social services, facilities, and productive activities in settlements at different levels in the spatial hierarchy must be pursued in order to articulate spatial systems in marginal regions, extend services to the rural poor, and increase their access to townbased functions.

A national strategy for marginal area incorporation and development involves four major components.

First, the strategy must seek to deconcentrate important development investments from already burgeoning primate cities and metropolitan centres to other less developed regions, both to provide the opportunities for developing potential resources in those regions and to create a more articulated and integrated national space economy. In countries like the Philippines this requires a regional investment programme primarily focused on rural industrialization and infrastructure support-one that extends communication and transportation linkages to peripheral areas and promotes investment in agribusiness, small- and medium-scale industries, and local consumer-noods manufacturing using indinenous resources Such a strategy, in addition to providing the means for absorbing, processing, and distributing agricultural surpluses could also provide a wider range of household and local consumer goods to rural people at lower cost, and expand off-farm employment opportunities. The International Labour Office observed the paucity of appropriate industries in the rural Philippines and that "in spite of substantial transport costs, textiles are shipped from Manila to the smallest towns in Mindanao. Shoes are produced only in large towns. There is, in short, a surprising absence of the kind of lower cost adaptive consumer good produced for the domestic rural market and traded among and within the islands."

Although the Philippines has extensive programmes for industrial promotion, these alone will not generate the volume of private investment needed to vitalize and diversify marginal economies. Indeed, the promotion programmes have generally benefitted those industries that located where previous priorities for infrastructure investment have made operation most advantageous-in and around metropolitan Manila. Unless infrastructure investments are also deconcentrated and support facilities extended to rural areas, private investment will not precede them. The World Bank has argued that "to direct investments into desired locations it is absolutely essential to provide adequate supporting infrastructure such as electricity, water, transportation and communications as well as financial and technical services and a supply of qualified labor." The Bank notes that "fiscal incentives without these provisions are unlikely to stimulate much new investment in the outer provinces, and with such infrastructure incentives are probably not needed."

A second element of the strategy requires careful location and "decentralized concentration" of relatively higher population threshold investments in intermediate and secondary cities, which would serve as inter-regional production centres, act to counter-balance continued rapid growth in primate cities, and become part of a network of domestic exchange and market centres. The World Bank correctly observes that "to date the intermediate size cities have been neglected in the Philippines as a focus of policy." The high priorities that Manila received in public investment and expenditures allowed the metropolitan area to grow at the expense of both rural areas and other urban centres. Manila's primacy is now extremely high, with well over ten times the population of the next largest cities- Davao and Cebu. Yet these two smaller metropolitan areas and a number of other secondary cities-such as lliolo, Zamboanga, Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro, Angeles, and Olongapo-might serve as inter-regional production and exchange centres if appropriate investments were made in public infrastructure and productive activities.

Third, as the final report of the Bicol River Basin Urban Functions in Rural Development project pointed out, a spatial strategy for more equitable development requires locating infrastructure investments and productive activities within regions in such a way as to articulate the spatial system and integrate urbanized centres and rural hinterlands. A deliberate policy of decentralizing investment in lower population threshold functions and combining in "minimum investment packages" the services, infrastructure, and facilities needed to promote functional specialization and trade among settlements within rural regions is essential for accelerating and spreading the benefits of development. Articulation of the spatial system implies the development of at least three levels of settlements within regional economies: rural service centres, small cities, and regional centres.

With careful allocation and packaging of investments, towns and villages that already exist within marginal regions of developing countries could be made to perform these three levels of functions. In some regions substantial investments would be necessary to create regional centres, and in most areas the paucity of market towns and rural service centres would require careful analysis of incipient centres prior to designing investment packages. Creation of this hierarchy of settlements, however, would provide a spatial framework for spreading the benefits and increasing the multiplier effects of public and private investment.

Finally, creation of a more equitable development pattern requires increasing the linkages among rural settlements and between them and urbanized centres within regions. Among the most important linkages are farm-to-market roads and allweather arterials between market centres and larger towns and cities. It is inconceivable that the Philippine government, for instance, will be able to attain its goals of increased agricultural production, economic diversification, and more equitable distribution of services, facilities, and income without first extending transportation access within and among regions. A network of all-weather and farm-to-market roads in regions like Bicol is an essential precondition for extending services to rural people, promoting investment in agribusiness and small-scale manufacturing, and providing access for rural people to the higher threshold services and facilities that must be located in cities and poblaciones. Without access to markets farmers will simply not increase output. The costs of transporting agricultural goods in peripheral areas of regions like Bicol wipe out marginal profits of increased production for farmers without access to roads and highways.

This four-pronged strategy of regional reallocation of investments in infrastructure, the gradual building up of secondary and intermediate size cities as interregional production and market centres, articulating the spatial systems of marginal regions, integrating town centres with rural hinterlands, and increasing linkages among settlements in rural areas, would both promote greater spread effects from development in larger urban centres and generate more diversified economic growth in smaller rural villages. It combings "bottom-up" and "top-down" development strategies to forge an integrated national economy in which the benefits of accelerated growth could be more equitably distributed and the high levels of rural poverty more easily and effectively ameliorated.

All of this must be done carefully, however, with sensitivity to the needs and capabilities of people living in marginal areas and to the nature and characteristics of the ecosystems in those regions. As Rondinelli and Ruddle have argued elsewhere, and in more detail, such planning must employ a "transformational" development approach. Transformational development seeks to increase incrementally the productivity of indigenous resources, institutions and population groups, reinforcing practices and building on organizations that are appropriate to local conditions and needs and adaptive to changing circumstances, and gradually displacing those that are not.

The concept of transformational development involves eight basic principles: 1. building on existing culturally embedded resources, institutions, and practices; 2. involving local people, who will be affected by transformation and change, in the processes of development planning and implementation; 3. adapting modern technologies, services, and facilities to local conditions; 4. promoting specialization in production and exchange activities based on existing spatial comparative advantages; 5. using appropriate, low-cost, culturally acceptable methods of change to generate "demonstration effects" that lead to widespread adoption of those that prove successful; 6. planning for displacement of unproductive and unadaptable traditional institutions and practices as change occurs; 7. establishing, through planning based on "strategic intervention," the preconditions for transformation and change in social, technical, political, economic, and administrative structures and processes and in elements of the spatial structure; and 8. creating a planning process that is flexible, incremental, and adaptive and that provides for experimentation and adjustment as transformation takes place.

Organizational transformation and spatial integration are inextricably related in the development of resource systems in marginal areas. They must be carefully planned if marginal populations are to be effectively assisted in increasing their capacity to procure, transform, and deliver the resources needed to raise their standards of living.