I have just returned from a summer internship in Uganda, where I was working with the Ford Family Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity which is based at Notre Dame. Apart from learning about the day to day work of a development organization, I realized first hand the importance of Marxian contributions to development economics. During meetings and workshops with village representatives, there was often a great deal of disagreement about the priorities of various needs, such as water and sanitation, health, education, financial services, agriculture, etc. Development and aid organizations have a tendency to view villages as homogenous and harmonious and having villagers with common interests, while in reality there are various interests depending on the class position that different people occupy; these positions include agricultural laborers who do not own sufficient land, subsistence farmers, rich peasants who market a surplus and are able to hire laborers, wage earners (such as teachers, nurses, and staff workers), traders, shop owners, fishermen, politicians, clergy, and boda boda and taxi drivers.
This led me to seek more on development from a Marxian perspective, and I found a wealth of interesting material concerning topics ranging from rural class structure to the historical process of underdevelopment. One example comes from George Dalton, an economic anthropologist who studied under Karl Polanyi. In the summary to “The Development of Subsistence and Peasant Economies in Africa,” the author writes:
To understand the social implications of rural African development one must first understand the relation between traditional social organization and economic structure in primitive and peasant communities. Case studies show that unsuccessful development occurs where an increase in production for sale is unaccompanied by technological and cultural innovations: traditional economy and society are forced to change without new modes of integration being formed, and without sustained growth in income forthcoming. Successful development requires mutually reinforcing innovations in economy, technology, and culture which induce sustained growth in income over successive generations, and integrate the local community with the region, the nation and the world.
You will not find too much of this in The End of Poverty, but based on experience I find it too important to ignore.