|Development Projects in the Sudan: An Analysis of their Reports with Implications for Research and Training in Arid Land Management (UNU, 1979, 58 pages)|
|5. Project improvement|
Training needs for the project staff are apparent. They arise directly from the common problems discussed as relevant for all selected projects. Training programmes in arid land management should raise standards on ail levels of project implementation But because most decision-makers in this field are university-trained people. a programme at the post-graduate level is most essential. It must be designed in such a way that it provides advanced courses in specific management fields which will enable project officers to solve problems of permanent agricultural production. optimal organization and social acceptance, as well as economic viability of projects implemented in arid land areas.
A training programme of this type would best be located at a university of a developing country where biological. environmental, technical, and socio-economic disciplines are already established and can contribute jointly to an "integrated" arid land management approach. Looking at the African scene. no faculty seems fully equipped for such a programme, but faculties of agriculture may at least come close because by their nature they combine science and social disciplines more than any other. Such courses would benefit from a thorough mixture of theoretical and practical training, together with the provision that each participant presents his knowledge and thoughts about a particular subject in the form of a written thesis.
All these considerations lead the author to propose this training as an M.Sc. programme of 18 months' duration. A formal degree programme seems absolutely necessary for a number of reasons connected with the academic and administrative structures of a university on the one hand. and with the motivation and career aspects of the participants on the other. Additional points can be added such as the attraction of highly qualified teaching staff, the need for international funding, recognition of examinations for national and multi-national service, etc.
5.2.1 Programme Structure
Going back to the common problems of the analyzed projects, the following
points emerge for the programme:
a) The project staff and the majority of the project planners need more understanding of the specific natural and socio-economic forces operating in an arid land project area. They are apparently not always in a position to develop the area's production potential without endangering the long-term viability of the natural resources. Consequence for training: to provide the necessary course work in the natural and social sciences and in the production techniques that are most suitable for arid land areas. The time for course work should not exceed a period of ten months (including a one-month vacation).
b) The project staff needs training to organize a project in such a way that the expected targets can be reached. that flexible responses to changing conditions are possible. and that projects integrate into the overall development stream and do not remain an exclusive "government project." Consequence for training: to provide a practical experience period by doing administrative. advisory, and evaluation tasks at particular projects. The time for this practical experience should not exceed four months.
c) The project staff needs training in writing documentations from observation and data collection on the projects. Such reports, in addition to their training aspect, may interest and should motivate the responsible administrators and politicians, as well as scientists, to look into the particular needs of arid land management. Consequence for training: to present a thesis on a theme connected with the practical experience in a project. The time for this work should not exceed four months.
The selection of themes for the thesis work and the organization of a practical project period for students will depend upon a number of administrative and personal factors. They must be covered in more detail by the relevant academic regulations for an M.Sc. degree to be approved by the university in charge of the programme. But it is hoped that these aspects will be taken care of in close collaboration with the institutions responsible for project implementation.
Course content, on the other hand, can be developed by matching existing syllabuses of relevant degree courses with the experience of projects described in this analysis. The following section tries to present a proposal which should be acceptable for at least the Sudanese situation. but it is hoped that it will also have further application,
5.2.2 Course Work
From all the reports, it is evident that permanence of cultivation must have priority in all teaching activities. Project organization, social acceptance, and economic viability will come next. If ten months are available for course work, this period should be divided into three terms of three months each (plus one-month vacation), allowing half the time for the permanence of cultivation and half for the remaining three fields.
This proposal may differ from conventional approaches to develop training programmes and syllabuses. The understanding is that a post-graduate course for arid land management does not need all thinkable components from relevant science disciplines but should concentrate on the major common problem areas which have been observed over the past decades. In this sense. the proposed programme is a bottleneck approach. assuming that the participants have enough insight from their previous training and experience in all the general fields necessary to concentrate now upon the specific issues of project performance in arid land regions. In reading through the following course descriptions, the reader may ask himself whether or not the traditional lecture and seminar approach would be most appropriate for adult and experienced learners. The author believes that the introduction of participatory techniques through team and project work would improve the motivation of students and the quality of studies, as well as the ability of lecturers to guide and to co-ordinate such an interdisciplinary programme. If the following course outline does not look like an interdisciplinary approach, it must be remembered that university teachers represent disciplines and only exceptional personalities are able to combine all related subjects from other fields into their own teaching. The main point, therefore, must be to make sure that the total programme becomes interdisciplinary in such a way that the recipient student receives all relevant information and gets guidance to put it together in whatever combination needed for an interdisciplinary approach to arid land management.
A. PERMANENCE OF CULTIVATION 41/2 months
Course 1. Environment (90 hours) Climatic conditions and influence of
Climatology and hydrology. Soils and soil fertility. Soil surveys and practical assessment of soils for permanent cultivation. Resource development and conservation of suitable land areas. Principles of protection of the environment. Desert encroachment and erosion threats. Reforestation. Wildlife.
Course 2. Water (90 hours) Water sources for arid land use. Rain-fed cultivation; methods of rainwater harvesting. Irrigation from streams and wells. Reducing evaporation and seepage losses. Selecting and managing efficient water use systems. Engineering aspects. Tapping additional water supplies. Problems of salinity.
Course 3. Crops (90 hours) Natural vegetation of arid land. Introduction to subsistence and commercial crops. Optimal land use systems. Shifting cultivation. Mechanized farming practices. Plant breeding. Crop protection. Crop rotation and fertilization. Improved grassland use. Feed crops. Harvesting and post-harvest storage aspects. Fodder crops.
Course 4. Livestock (90 hours) Animals in arid lands. Livestock systems. Carrying capacities of natural and reseeded grassland. Integration of nomadic livestock in other land-use systems. Range development planning. Livestock breeding programmes. Health aspects. Livestock takeoff rates. Marketing aspects. Problems of livestock around large irrigated crop production schemes. Overstocking problems. Improved husbandry methods.
3. PROJECT ORGANIZATION 11/2 months
Course 5. Planning and Evaluation (60 hours) Public policy analysis and decision-making process. Development strategies and land-use policies. Integrated rural development. Planning methods. Project targets and instruments. Project institutions. Project finding; feasibility studies; data collection. Accompanying evaluation. Criteria for evaluation. Cost-benefit analysis. Private and social profitability. Employment generation. Settlement schemes.
Course 6. Implementation (60 hours) Management and administrative principles.
Personnel and labour management. Budgeting and financial management. Time and
risk factors involved. Central or decentralized management. Participation of the
local population. Additional services and infrastructure. Implementation of
specific projects, such as irrigation schemes. block grazing, etc. Self-interest
of the participants.
C. SOCIAL ACCEPTANCE 1 1/2 months
Course 7. Social Impact (60 hours) Language, race, ethnic and stratification of social groups in arid areas. Demography. Political and religious geography. Methods of social investigation. Interlinks of economic and social, of urban and rural change. Impact of development projects on the population. Reaction of local people to control development programmes.
Course 8. Local Participation (60 hours) Theory and methods of political inquiry. Public and development administration. Public decision-making process. Conflicts and vested interests. Social actions. Institutions for self-help. Extension and community development. Methods to organize the local population for development programmes. Motivation incentives. Responsibilities and risks involved.
D. ECONOMIC VIABILITY 1 1/2 months
Course 9. Macro Economics (60 hours) International and national demand for products supplied by projects in arid land areas. Prices and price policies. Marketing structure. National and regional development plans. Statistical methods to collect additional data. GNP and balance of payments aspects in designing projects. Selection of appropriate technologies. Employment aspects. Multi- and bilateral aid programmes. Conditions of international funding.
Course 10. Micro Economics (60 hours) Principles of cost-benefit analysis. Costeffectiveness approach. Budgeting and financing. Investment decisions. Accounting and cash flow. Finance control and financial planning. Profit and loss account. Credit and securities. Income and cost distribution among project administration and local participants. Farm data collection.