The Unsettling of the Zambezi Valley: An Examination of the Mid-Zambezi Rural Development Project

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"My objective today is to explore one vision for, the Zambezi Valley, that emerging from the Mid-Zambezi Project and to present some alternative possibilities for the area. This should lead actors to rethink the alternative and often competing visions for the future. In particular it is important how the Centre for Applied Social Sciences (CASS), World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) and Zimbabwe Trust (ZimTrust) will position themselves relative to the most massive undertaking of top-down planning to reshape the valley since the construction of Kariba. The Mid-Zambezi Project also has clear implications for the wider national debate about the land question and how and in what ways small-scale agriculturalists' knowledge can and will be utilized in the restructuring of Zimbabwean agriculture. "In this paper I will outline the major features of the Mid-Zambezi Rural Development Project, summarize some reactions by both migrants and long-term residents to the project, analyze some longer-term issues within the Valley that the Project does not appear to address, and offer some suggestions for an alternative way to proceed. I begin by commenting on what I regard as a desirable approach to rural development: that based not on an opposition to planning but planning with the full-involvement and participation of those who are being planned for - those most often termed beneficiaries."
rural development, village organization, settlement