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Innovation platforms, power, representation and participation: Lessons from Blue Nile Basin, Ethiopia

Innovation platforms, power, representation and participation: Lessons from Blue Nile Basin, Ethiopia



Presented by Beth Cullen, Josephine Tucker, Katherine Snyder, Zelalem Lema, Alan Duncan at the New Models of Innovation for Development, University of Manchester, 4th July 2013 ...

Presented by Beth Cullen, Josephine Tucker, Katherine Snyder, Zelalem Lema, Alan Duncan at the New Models of Innovation for Development, University of Manchester, 4th July 2013



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    Innovation platforms, power, representation and participation: Lessons from Blue Nile Basin, Ethiopia Innovation platforms, power, representation and participation: Lessons from Blue Nile Basin, Ethiopia Presentation Transcript

    • Innovation platforms, Power, Representation & Participation: Lessons from Blue Nile Basin, Ethiopia Beth Cullen, Josephine Tucker, Katherine Snyder, Zelalem Lema, Alan Duncan New M odels of Innovation for Development University of Manchester 4 July 2013
    • Research focus • Paper focuses on manifestations of power within Innovation Platforms (IPs) for natural resource management (NRM) in Ethiopia • We analyse relationships between actors and the impact that these dynamics have on NRM interventions piloted by the platforms. • Framed within Ethiopian context to assess the effectiveness of IPs in a politically restrictive environment
    • Research Aims • Contribute to understanding of power dynamics in Innovation Platform processes • Provide analysis and critique of the use of IPs for ‘pro-poor innovation’ • Demonstrate implications for platform implementation, impact, scaling up and policy
    • Outline • • • • Research design and methods Ethiopian context NBDC overview: Why Innovation platforms? IP’s, Power & Representation: • • Membership & interactions between stakeholders Decision making and implementation Role of ‘innovation brokers’ Concepts of participation Implications for future work Reflections Conclusion
    • Research design & methods • R4D project, Ethiopian highlands, 3 study sites • Based on work from 2010 to present • Paper synthesizes lessons from initial phase of platform operation • Qualitative research: focus group discussions, participatory community engagement exercises, meeting minutes, researcher observations, key informant interviews, independent review of platforms
    • Context: The Ethiopian Highlands • Densely populated • High levels of poverty and food insecurity • Expanding cultivation • Rapid land degradation
    • NRM Interventions • Top-down quota-driven approach • Focus on technical interventions • Lack of cross-sector collaboration & coordination • Insufficient focus on productivity & livelihoods • Poor incentives for adopting/maintaining interventions • Lack of community participation
    • Destruction by farmers of interventions
    • NBDC Overview • Nile Basin Development Challenge (NBDC) Program aims to improve the resilience of rural livelihoods in the Ethiopian highlands through a landscape approach to natural resource management. • Hypothesis: development of integrated strategies which consider technologies, policies and institutions identified by a range of stakeholders will lead to improved NRM, providing alternative approaches to top-down implementation.
    • Why Innovation Platforms? Or...
    • Areas of innovation • Addressing NRM challenges requires innovation in institutions that structure interactions between resource users • NBDC IP’s intended to prompt innovation in: • Joint identification of issues and interventions • Improved linkages between actors • Increased community participation • Co-design of interventions tailored to local contexts
    • IP’s, Power & Representation • Innovation platforms: ‘equitable dynamic spaces designed to bring together stakeholders from different interest groups to take action to solve a common problem’ • In theory, platform members are equal and can articulate their needs. In practice, that may be far from the case... • NRM planning and implementation in Ethiopia is a ‘closed’ or at best ‘invited’ space • How equitable can platforms be in such a context?
    • Platforms dominated by government actors This is what we will do! Er… Well, but… Not really… Credit: Alfred Ombati
    • Platform membership & representation • Government influence in the selection of IP members, particularly ‘community representatives’ • Significant for NRM activities because communities are the main implementers of NRM interventions • Example of ‘false homogenization’ (farmer diversity not represented), difficult for facilitators to address
    • Interactions between stakeholders • Community members not free to express alternative views • Farmer knowledge not equally valued • Hierarchical interactions firmly entrenched: significant barrier to innovation • Initial attempts by facilitators to address unequal dynamics was met with resistance • Project sought to provoke joint learning through active engagement
    • Decision-making • Starting point: identification of commonly agreed upon NRM issue/entry point for interventions • Different priorities between farmers and decision makers: short term vs. long term, livelihoods vs. NRM • Fodder interventions chosen in all 3 sitescoincidence? Influenced by project & government agendas? • Facilitators played important mediating role
    • Implementation • Farmers seen as ‘implementers’, lack of genuine involvement • Different levels of engagement (and understanding) between different actors- reflecting existing interactions • Community members perceived platform activities as another ‘arm of government’ • In some sites community members destroyed/abandoned activities: ‘weapons of the weak’ • Highlights importance of community participation: evidence of the need for a ‘bottom-up approach’
    • ‘Innovation brokers’ • Innovation brokers (Klerkx 2009) important, but dilemmas about ‘insider’ or ‘outsider’ brokers: - Outsiders: overview of context and challenges but define research/project objectives so powerful actors, problems of trust/partnership - Insiders: limited understanding of innovation concepts, part of existing power structure which leads to limitations (e.g. NGOs) • NBDC started with ‘outsider’ facilitators and gradually devolved responsibility to ‘insiders’, not an easy process
    • Role of facilitators • Should platform facilitators play a neutral role or try to empower marginalized members? • ‘Dialogue’ versus ‘critical’ vision of power (Faysse 2006) • Attempts to empower community members (Participatory Video) had limited success- IP members took a ‘business as usual approach’ Why?
    • Concepts of participation • Different understandings between platform members and researchers about ‘participation’ • Is lack of capacity and resources the main issue? • Capacity building events organised with limited success • Hierarchical social and political environment seems not to support ‘error-embracing participatory approaches’ • Lower level government officials & farmers equally constrained by this context
    • Implications for future work • Limited attention to constraints faced by lower level decision makers • Poorly designed incentives & structural problems: requires influence at higher level • Local platforms can help make these dynamics visible but unlikely to change them: could ‘nested platforms’ be successful? • NBDC project needs to demonstrate how local level lessons can help achieve national objectives
    • Reflections • Too early to draw conclusions about impact: a problem for innovation processes! • Some changes in knowledge, attitudes and practice among IP members but may not lead to wide-scale change • Continuous engagement and capacity building of local actors important for longer term success • Engagement with higher level decision makers critical but depends on political will
    • Conclusion • Failure to resolve power and representation issues within IPs may affect: - Priority given to issues, - Selection of entry points, - Design of interventions, - Adoption of interventions • If some members’ voices are ignored – or if some groups are not represented at all – they may start to disengage from or resist interventions
    • Implications • Danger that IPs give illusion of increased participation whilst replicating and masking existing power dynamics • If issues of power and representation are not considered IPs may aggravate poverty and environmental decline rather than provide innovative solutions
    • Questions?