Postrevolutionary organization in Iran for developing rural areas of the country.
The leaders of the Iranian Revolution believed that the deposed monarchy of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi had neglected both agriculture and rural economic development in its program to create an urban and industrialized society. Therefore, government attention to the "deprived" rural sector became an ideological pillar of the Islamic Republic. A special government organization, the Jehad-e Sazandegi (literally, the Construction Crusade), was set up with the mandate to provide basic infrastructure to all of the country's 70,000 villages. The Jehad's projects included road construction, rural electrification, provision of piped potable water, building waste water systems, and implementing numerous programs to enhance agricultural productivity. The philosophy of Jehad stressed local participation in development projects, and its trained cadres mobilized thousands of villagers in cooperative efforts that eventually brought modern amenities to and transformed the appearance of most villages. Its achievements included the construction of 60,000 kilometers of rural roads between 1979 and 1999 and the extension of piped water to 850,000 rural households in the same period.
Jehad's successes raised its profile and it became a cabinet-level ministry in the mid-1980s. As a ministry, its hands-on approach to agricultural productivity problems sometimes clashed with the more bureaucratically inclined approach of the ministry of agriculture. Rivalry between Jehad and the ministry of agriculture prompted the government of President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (1989–1997) to streamline state rural development programs by merging the two ministries, a policy that both resisted. Eventually, Jehad was incorporated as an organization within the ministry of agriculture, but it has maintained a separate identity and its focus on rural development.
see also agriculture; iranian revolution (1979); pahlavi, mohammad reza; rafsanjani, ali akbar hashemi.
Azkia, Mostafa. "Rural Society and Revolution in Iran." In Twenty Years of Islamic Revolution: Political and Social Transition in Iran since 1979, edited by Eric Hooglund. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2002.