The eradication of rural poverty has been a major concern of Third World governments and donor agencies for many decades. Various approaches have been used to eradicate rural poverty. Community Development (CD) emerged as the dominant approach in the early 1950s in many Third World countries, especially in Asia and Latin America. However, the CD movement declined in the 1960s when it was realized that it was not effective in reaching the poor. The French counterpart of CD, animation rurale(AR), was adopted in Francophone countries, especially in Africa in the late 1960s (Geller et al., 1980). Disappointment with the results of CD and AR gave rise to Integrated Rural Development (IRD) and the Basic Needs (BN) approaches in the early 1970s. However, by 1980 many donors had retreated from IRD projects or had redesigned them to give greater attention to agricultural production. A new government was installed in South Africa in April 1994 after more than four decades of apartheid rule. The new government is trying to repair the damage caused by the apartheid regime to the economy and the lives of the people of South Africa. A Reconstruction and Development Program (RDP) has been designed to address the economic, social, and political problems facing the country. The RDP is focusing on many of the same issues - rural poverty and underemployment - that give rise to the CD and IRD programs of the 1950s-1970s. The purpose of this paper is to (a) evaluate that global experience with CD, AR, IRD and BN programs, including their weaknesses and strengths; (b) outline South Africa's RDP; and (c) draw lessons for South Africa from experience with rural development in African and Asian countries. The remainder of the paper is organized into six chapters. Chapters 2-5 examine Africa's and Asia's experience with rural development. Chapter 6 outlines South Africa's RDP. Right lessons drawn from the experience of Asia and Africa with CD, AR, IRD and BN approaches are presented in Chapter 7. A summary of the paper is presented in Chapter 8.


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