Beyond the Problem-Solving
Approach to Sustainable Rural
In a 1997 monograph entitled, “Rural Development From Vision to Action”, the World Bank posed the following rhetorical question: “If rural development is so important, why is it not happening?” The Bank posed three answers: poor commitment and capacities of countries; waning international commitment to agriculture and rural development; and poor commitment on the part of the World Bank. However, there is an additional explanation, which may be operating at a deeper level and contributing to these perceptions--the current problemsolving approach of many research and development organizations may be affecting their capacity as change agents.
Although many such organizations have reconceptualized sustainable development in much broader and more holistic terms, and have made significant progress in evolving towards more participatory and people-centered approaches, a more positive approach is required to complement the problem-solving focus, as a way of ameliorating its self-limiting aspects.