|Spatial Analysis for Regional Development (UNU, 1980, 44 pages)|
Studies of economic development in both industrially advanced and developing nations have shown that a key to internal economic growth has been the creation of mutually beneficial relationships between urban centres and the countryside. The emergence of a spatial system that stimulated the commercialization of agriculture, allowed natural resources from rural regions to be used productively within those regions, facilitated the dissemination of innovation and the delivery of public and commercial services, aided in the efficient production and exchange of goods throughout the national economy, and drew larger numbers of the population into productive economic activities, was crucial to widespread development.
But in much of Asia such spatial systems are not well developed; systems of central places of different sizes, performing specialized functions, widely dispersed but linked together in a mutually beneficial system of production and exchange, have not yet emerged. Economic development has generally been dualistic, and the over-concentration of investments in infrastructure and services in one or a few major urban centres has created polarized spatial systems that inhibit further expansion of the domestic economy, adversely exploit the resource base of marginal regions, and prevent widespread distribution of the benefits of economic growth. In many countries, as in the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia, production and infrastructure investments have been so heavily concentrated in one major city and region that over time the largest metropolitan area has attained "primate city" status. That is, the city has grown so large as to dominate the entire national economy. Secondary cities either do not develop, or grow very slowly. They are usually few in number and not distributed widely enough to act as catalysts for development in marginal regions. In highly polarized spatial systems, market centres are usually small and scattered, and are poorly equipped to provide services to rural areas. Small cities and market towns are not efficiently linked to each other or to larger urban centres and thus marketing networks that could integrate rural areas economically and incorporate marginal populations cannot easily emerge. A large percentage of the urban population lives in the primate city and a few other secondary centres; but the overwhelming majority of people remain in rural areas, scattered in small settlements that are not large enough to support basic services and facilities needed to promote economic growth and resource development.
International assistance agencies and governments in developing countries have increasingly recognized in the past few years that if they are to ameliorate rural poverty, integrate marginal areas, and incorporate subsistence population groups into the national economy, they must promote a more spatially balanced pattern of development based on "bottomup" stimulation of rural economies. Redistribution alone would do little to overcome rural poverty of the magnitude found in Asia. The emphasis on "growth-with-equity" would require the development of new resources within developing countries and the steady inclusion of marginal and subsistence populations in productive economic activities. This in turn would require extensive investment in physical infrastructure, services, and productive activities in rural regions, located strategically in intermediate sized cities, smaller towns, and rural market centres. The growth of "rural service centres" that could link towns to rural hinterlands would also be encouraged in order to increase the access of the rural poor to basic services and facilities. The investments, moreover, would have to be located in such a way as to create an articulated and integrated regional spatial system capable of facilitating, 1. the extension of markets for increased agricultural production and other rural resources, thereby raising income for rural families; 2. more widespread distribution of services such as health, education, family planning, and vocational training, the technical inputs needed for increased agricultural production such as new seed varieties, appropriate technology, farm-tomarket roads, and rural electrification, as well as communications and transportation; 3. creation of new rural employment opportunities, especially in agro-processing, agribusiness, small-scale manufacturing, and cottage industries that use local resources as the primary inputs for production; and 4. a slowdown the rate and an alteration in the pattern of rural to urban migration.
But the pattern and composition of spatial systems and the roles of various types of settlements differ drastically among developing nations, and any serious effort to shape spatial systems to promote more equitable and widespread development, especially in marginal zones, requires careful analysis and planning. Ruddle and Grandstaff point out two of the dangers of inappropriate development policies in marginal regions. First, they note that these areas are not necessarily ecologically marginal and that the ecological stability of more populated and developed regions often depends on the stability of marginal areas. Major disruptions of ecological systems in marginal areas could have adverse effects on more developed areas of the country. Moreover, if development is inappropriate or ill-considered it would likely leave people in marginal regions worse off and more alienated. "Marginal area populations are particularly susceptible to this because their resource systems and ways of life are often radically different from those of more developed areas," they note. "There is, therefore, a real likelihood for increased poverty, alienation and cultural disintegration under conditions of radical disruption." In the past, however, spatial analysis for regional development had been constrained by three other problems: the failure to recognize the importance of spatial factors in national and regional resource development; the lack of an operational framework for integrated spatial analysis; and the paucity and unreliability of data in rural regions for formulating effective development plans.
This paper describes and evaluates a pilot project undertaken from 1976 to 1978 in the Bicol River Basin of the Philippines to address these problems and to develop an operational framework for integrated spatial analysis and regional resource development. It describes the background and rationale of the project, outlines principles for selecting applied research methodologies, describes the methods and techniques that were used in the Bicol River Basin, and compares them with methodologies tested in previous experimental projects in other developing countries. In addition, it identifies the results of the project and evaluates the behavioural and organizational problems of implementing it.
The Bicol project is of general interest to resource development planners for three reasons. First, the analyses employed in the Philippines are potentially replicable, with appropriate testing and adaptation, for integrated spatial development planning in rural regions of other developing countries. Second, the problems of designing applied policy analyses for spatial development in Bicol are quite common in much of the developing world. And, finally, the results of the analysis provide insights into the spatial dimensions of regional resource development, especially the relationships between urban and rural sub-systems.