This chapter examines a new trend in rural community development practice using the Cameroon Grassfield Rural Development Project, to highlight the outcomes and challenges of participatory development in an African context. There is an on-going debate about the future of the rural sector in developing countries, centred on implementation of participatory projects to alleviate poverty and deteriorating rural living conditions. Using data from project documents and evaluations, participant observation and interviews with key stakeholders, this paper examines project outcomes achieved in the priority communities that underwent the new policy implemented between 2004 and 2010. The project provides a new approach to engage the state and local government stakeholders in strategic decisions on long-term rural development. Achievements are evident in community infrastructure (classrooms, community halls, feeder roads, improved water schemes, slaughter slabs, rural radio), and also in social capital and enhanced leadership. However, challenges remain in the implementation of participatory projects; and dependence on external sources of funding community projects persist, due to hash economic constraints and long-term neglect in providing rural areas with quality services. Changes in rural areas are increasingly challenging government to undertake policy adjustments and develop a dual role of service delivery and support for community capacity.
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