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Integrated Rural Development Program (IRDP)

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The Integrated Rural Development Program (IRDP) addresses the problem of rural poverty in Southern Africa by building the capacities of rural districts to plan, drive, and sustain their own social and economic development. Conducted by the Postgraduate School for Agriculture and Rural Development at the University of Pretoria, South Africa and supported by the WK Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), the programme facilitates and supports development activities in nine rural districts in six Southern African countries: Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. Three of the sites were launched late in 2001; the rest were launched early in 2002.
Communication Strategies: 

IRDP's initial strategy for fostering development activities is the establishment of internal and external linkages and partnerships at each site, with an attention to the policies and priorities of the respective governments in the region. At each site, a respected community member, called a District Facilitator (DF), facilitates programme activities. A Regional Coordinating Intermediary (RCI) based at the University of Pretoria coordinates programme activities. Proposals are submitted for donor funding.

Examples of activities conducted at specific sites include:

  • fostering the generation of income through agricultural and other projects like brick moulding (Swaziland - Tikhuba R.D.A.)
  • establishing a district governing board to help develop a programme in which service providers conduct capacity building activities (South Africa - Nyandeni, Eastern Cape)
  • implementing women-oriented animal foment/restocking in Sussundenga (Mozambique - Chimoio District)
  • establishing a council to design a community-owned strategic development plan (Zimbabwe - Chimanimani District)


In order to mobilise all community capacities and help build equitable societies, IRDP focuses on empowering women and youth in all of its activities. In addition, activities emphasise the role of physical and mental health in building economic self-sustainability and social well-being. For this reason, IRDP emphasises the importance of community understanding of issues impacting their health and the development of preventive health care. Skill development is also central; it is structured to build both confidence and capacity in terms of income-generating skills. This training is designed to help community members maintain respect for traditional values, while at the same time working to change disabling mindsets and practices that might otherwise serve as obstacles to development.

Development Issues: 

Agriculture, Economic Development, Women, Youth.

Key Points: 

Programme organisers note that in sub-Saharan Africa, 292 million people live on less than US$1 a day. 66% of people in sub-Saharan Africa - and the vast majority of the poor - are in rural areas.

The pilot phase of the IRDP, the Initiative for Integrated District Development Program (IIDDP), has been ongoing since 1998. A central component of that phase was selecting sites on the basis of criteria that included community poverty levels; demographics; existing development activities; infrastructure development; natural resources; economic activity; governance structures and community leadership; cooperation between role players; community commitment to self-development; the political environment; and the potential to expand work current WKKF Africa programmes in these areas.

Partner Text: 

Postgraduate School for Agriculture and Rural Development at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, Center for Applied Social Sciences (CASS) at the University of Zimbabwe, WKKF Africa, The Initiative for Development and Equity in African Agriculture (IDEAA), and Leadership Regional Network (LeaRN).

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