Community development in Botswana, with special reference to the evolution of policy and organisation 1947 - 1970
Wass, Peter G.L.
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This thesis examines the way in which community development as an acknowledged feature of government activity has evolved in one emergent country. It is concerned with the changes in official thinking over several decades changes by no means always progressive, and with the relationship between thought and action. It discusses the factors that influenced these changes, ranging from the details of an individual's personal role or the effects of fortuitous happenings, through administrative and financial controls, to the constraints imposed by the prevailing conceptual climate. The events in the Botswana example are of course themselves unique, but in so far as they illustrate the processes by which policy has evolved in a country which markedly exhibits most of the classical features of the underdeveloped areas of Africa - the dual economy; over dependence on a single product; political immaturity; rural underemployment, and the drift, especially of youth, to towns; inadequate and unsuitable educational provision; traditional practices conflicting with modernisation; and an administrative machine of very uneven quality - it has wider relevance, notwithstanding the contention of this study that to be fully appreciated community development must be examined in a particular situation rather than in the abstract, the evolution hero discussed has much in common with other African countries. Furthermore Botswana's relatively uncomplicated, undiversified economy and polity permit national patterns and trends to be demonstrated without the myriad reservations and exceptions necessary in more advanced African countries, thus giving it added value as a case study. The Introduction has a three-fold purpose: to explain the method of study chosen; to discuss the meaning of community development and point out some of the obstacles in the way of assigning a precise definition; and to outline the historical and geographical situation of Botswana* The main body of the study is divided into three parts. The two chapters comprising Part I are concerned with general context, putting the Botswana case into the perspective of colonial policy and of developments in other African countries. It is shown that although Bechuonaland was following progressive policies in community find adult education in the 1930s, there was a decline of interest in the field in the 1940's. Part II deals in detail with the post-war growth of government activity in Botswana in relation to social welfare and subsequently community development, paying particular attention to the way ideas took root and developed. Chapter 3 describes the Welfare Department's programme up to 1961, showing the influence first of the British voluntary organisation tradition, and then of South African urban social work. Chapters 4 and 5 are concerned with the reassessment of government's role in social welfare in the early 1960's. They examine in detail the reasoning which led in 1965 to the Social Welfare Department being reorganised as the Community Development Department with a shift of emphasis from urban to village development. Chapter 6 discusses the operation and effects of the World Food Program Community Development Project in 1966- 1967. National policy in the second half of the 1960's, concentrating on departmental structure and organisation, is described in Chapter 7. Part III is concerned with community development and national development. In Chapter 8 the results of a 1968 survey of attitudes to development held by political and civil service leaders are reported and discussed. Chapter 9 contains the conclusions to the thesis. It is concluded that although Botswana was until independence well out of the African mainstream in terms of community development, as indeed in relation to government administration generally, this is no longer the case. It is sham that community development as a specific function of public administration in Botswana has made and is making a significant contribution in the sphere of village organisation and institution building at all levels, as well as in several other ways. It Is suggested that many of the ideas which were previously seen as being the rational© of community development in particular have now been subsumed into the national philosophy. Proceeding from this position, it is further suggested that the time is approaching in Botswana, and has probably arrived in most other African countries, when major changes in community development policy and organisation are called for, possibly associated with decisive terminological changes.