Rural Development in Practice: Evolving Challenges and Opportunities, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Rural Development in Practice

Evolving Challenges and Opportunities, 1st Edition

By Willem van Eekelen


288 pages | 31 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2020-06-02
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Rural Development in Practice focuses on the evolving nature of rural development in the Global South. It outlines how we got to where we are today, checks what we can learn from history, and explores the development drivers, facilitators and obstacles most likely to shape the years ahead.

The book covers the management of fishing grounds, forests, grazing lands, water sources and soil, and looks at the effects of infrastructure, trade mechanisms and new crop varieties on farming. The author discusses the opportunities and challenges of microfinance, social safety nets and migration, and assesses the way ICT and climate change are changing everything, rapidly. Real-life examples, exercises, role-plays, textboxes, anecdotes and illustrative artwork are used to bring concepts and theories to life, and every chapter concludes with a section that explores how best to tackle the tough and complex dilemmas of our time.

Rural Development in Practice is essential reading for students at all levels, and will be of benefit to programme and policy staff in rural-focused government departments, multilateral agencies and non-government organisations.


"This book cuts through the noise that clutters the development discourse. The issues are tough, but the reading is easy." -- Asif Saleh, Executive Director of BRAC

"Highly readable, thoughtful, and very informative, this refreshing approach makes for an excellent introduction to the topic. While the author’s style is succinct, he nevertheless manages to provide a comprehensive review of the key issues in an insightful, honest and entertaining manner." -- André Croppenstedt, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

"In clear and sometimes witty ways, and drawing upon a depth of expertise, Willem van Eekelen assesses what works, what does not, and why. It’s refreshing, it’s engaging, it’s that rare creature - a student textbook that is also a page turner." -- Catherine Cameron, Director at Agulhas Applied Knowledge (a company specialised in strategic portfolio evaluations) and Visiting Fellow at the University of Surrey

"Willem van Eekelen's impressive and original effort to reinvent the traditional student textbook is accessible, thoughtful, witty and stylish, and is guaranteed to bring alive the subject of rural development for students at all levels." -- David Lewis, London School of Economics and Political Science

"Willem van Eekelen’s ‘Rural Development in Practice’ contributes a highly accessible, insightful and, in places, critical perspective on its topic. Its core arguments are skilfully illustrated by examples and personal experience. This book provides a unique entry point into international development for students and interested readers." --Armando Barrientos, Professor Emeritus of Poverty and Social Justice, Global Development Institute, University of Manchester

"Willem van Eekelen rightly challenges some of the long-held hypotheses that have underpinned the narrative in international development in a courageous, thought-provoking and engaging way. This is a very useful book, not only for students, but for anyone seeking to improve their knowledge and understanding of rural development in an evolving global context." --Tina Fahm, Commissioner of the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI).

"I am amazed by the way this rich compilation of information and analysis is woven into a compelling narrative. It is a 'must read' for anyone who wishes to understand the role of agriculture in global development, and its impact on countries’ socio-economic and political dynamics. Watch out for the humour, too." --Girish Menon, Chief Executive of ActionAid UK.

"This is a highly relevant, well-written and well-researched textbook that is useful for students and anyone with an interest in rural development. It is a skillfully crafted synthesis of accessible and digestible information and evidence on the topical problems affecting rural development today." -- Nyasha Tirivayi, United Nations University

"An insightful, enjoyable and timely publication. With a practical style the book helps to understand the complexity of international development and the important role rural development plays in addressing the pressing challenges of our time. Agriculture and the ability to sustain life on the planet are presented with convincing evidence that a brighter future for all is possible." -- Oscar Garcia, Director of the Independent Office of Evaluation of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

"An intellectual and practical boost for the mind and soul. A no-nonsense and enlightening read with wit, great stories and practical examples. This book is a must-read for all people interested in development." -- Saleh Saeed, development practitioner and currently Chief Executive of the Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC)

"As an evaluator, Willem van Eekelen is professionally skeptical of whether projects have really made as much difference as the people who started them hope. So when he says the world has made huge progress in reducing extreme poverty in the last 50 years, believe it. If you want to know how: Willem describes both what worked and what got in the way, in plain language, for any reader." --Laurie Lie, Chief Executive of CARE International UK

"This is an excellent publication, well-written, informative, and presented with an attractive freshness. The informality of the narrative does not spoil the academic value and the topics that the author highlights are very appropriate, topical, and should be essential reading for students hoping to work in the field of international development." -- Frank Rennie, Professor of Sustainable Rural Development at the University of the Highlands and Islands

"This is a must-read textbook. Stylishly innovative, it sucks the reader into a cutting edge exploration of the key issues that will shape the next phase of rural development in the Global South." --Mesfin Mergia Mekonnen, Water for Food Institute, University of Nebraska

Table of Contents




  1. The Development Drivers, Facilitators and Obstacles of the Last 50 Years
  2. Agricultural Production Practice
  3. The Commons
  4. Trade
  5. Microfinance
  6. Information and Communication Technology
  7. Migration
  8. Social Assistance
  9. Climate Change


About the Author

Willem van Eekelen is an evaluator in the field of international development, and teaches on that subject at the University of Birmingham, UK.

About the Series

Rethinking Development

Rethinking Development offers accessible and thought-provoking overviews of contemporary topics in international development and aid. Providing original empirical and analytical insights, the books in this series push thinking in new directions by challenging current conceptualizations and developing new ones.  

This is a dynamic and inspiring series for all those engaged with today’s debates surrounding development issues, whether they be students, scholars, policy makers and practitioners internationally. These interdisciplinary books provide an invaluable resource for discussion in advanced undergraduate and postgraduate courses in development studies as well as in anthropology, economics, politics, geography, media studies and sociology.

To submit proposals, please contact the Development Studies Editor, Helena Hurd ([email protected]).

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Developing Countries