The Herald, September 1, 1993
THERE is need for the Government to come up with a master plan, which generates productive employment and income in communal areas where the majority of the people live.
This view was expressed by Professor Mandivamba Rukuni of the University of Zimbabwe at the week-long conference on employment creation being held in Harare.
He said the vast potential in the rural areas could not be realised until the social and physical infrastructures such as dams, irrigation schemes, roads, boreholes and electricity were put in place.
“Recent research carried out in Gokwe, showed that to create jobs in rural areas, there should be an increase in agricultural support, and the most viable option is to invest in the social and physical infrastructures, to stimulate agricultural production and make it attractive for non-agricultural enterprises”, he said.
Sharing similar views, Prof Sam Moyo of the Institute of Development Studies, said the current economic reform process, which was aimed at raising the standard of living of the majority had neglected the essential component of stimulating the employment in rural areas.
“Sustained state and private investment in communal area agriculture through infrastructure and irrigation development, land redistribution and farm technology transfers are the key programmes through which the productivity of land and labour in communal areas can be enhanced,” he said.
Prof Moyo said more than $3 billion was needed over 10 years for investment into communal areas and irrigation schemes. These could create direct full-time employment for over 200 000 people and more jobs downstream.
“Higher levels of investment into the facilities, services and inputs needed for production growth in a wider range of crops and livestock types are required. This would be complemented by massive water development programmes,” he said.
LESSONS FOR TODAY
The role of productive employment in reducing poverty is by now widely recognised.
Apart from the general inadequacy of employment growth, many developing countries face emergencies of various kinds (e.g. severe droughts, floods and other natural disasters, sharp seasonal decline in labour demand, prolonged armed conflicts leading to disruptions in national economies and the labour markets, severe economic downturns, etc.) that warrant interventions in the labour market in the form of employment creation programmes.
Rural development in general is regarded as the action and initiative taken to improve the standard of living of communities in non-urban areas.
Rural development actions are therefore mainly aimed at enabling rural people to take control of their destiny, thereby dealing effectively with rural poverty through the optimal use and management of natural resources.