Research on rural development has gained significance in recent years. Much of the previous work focused on economic factors of the people involved in rural development programs/projects. However, now there is a growing interest in the role of socio-cultural factors affecting rural development. This paper reviews and analyzes how a German assisted Integrated Rural Development Program (IRDP) effectively and effi ciently incorporated the people of a diverse culture of Mardan Division of North West Frontier Province, Pakistan in the development activities through a process oriented socio-cultural approach. The new way of viable participatory institution building at meso level (Regional Development Organizations) to tie and pursue the interest of micro-level organizations (Community Based Organizations) based on traditional, cultural values, and norms indicates how participation can be effectively institutionalized and the continuity of collective actions is ensured in the shape of Integrated Rural Support Program even after the withdrawal of IRDP. Based on the interviews, discussions, observations, and references, it is evident that the IRDP participatory approach not only facilitates genuine participation of the people in problem solving, planning, institutional building, and implementation of development activities but also ensures the sustainability of grass root organizations in the long run.
culture, Integrated Rural Development Project, people’s participation, rural development, sustainability
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