NBDC action research and innovation platforms


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Presented by Beth Cullen, Zelalem Lema, Aberra Adie, Gerba Leta at the Innovation Platform Capacity Building Event, ILRI Addis Ababa, 18th March 2013

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NBDC action research and innovation platforms

  1. 1. NBDC Action Research & Innovation Platforms Beth Cullen, Zelalem Lema, Aberra Adie, Gerba Leta Innovation Platform Capacity Building Event ILRI, Addis Ababa, 18 March 2013
  2. 2. What is participatory action research? Participatory action research is not a method, it is an approach to research. Action + research Involves people who are concerned about or affected by an issue taking a leading role in producing and using knowledge about it. •Driven by participants who have a stake in the issue being researched •Democratic knowledge sharing: all participants can contribute, produce, own and use knowledge, •Collaborative at every stage, involving discussion, pooling skills and working together •Intended to result in action, change or improvement •Cyclical- action and critical reflection takes place throughout. 
  3. 3. Why Action Research? • • • • • • Weaknesses of conventional research approaches: • • • • • • Benefits of action research: Focused on problems identified by stakeholders Flexible- not necessarily designed in detail from the start Inputs from a range of disciplines – interdisciplinary Accepting of multiple sources of evidence and “data” Process can be used to empower participants Complex problems/situations are not easily addressed Does not respond adequately to demand (researcher driven) Outputs not timely or in right formats for use Fails to reflect or accommodate reality Capacity not up-scaled and often lost after project close
  4. 4. Pre-conditions for Action Research • • • • • Genuine desire for change/improvement Openness – ability to listen, see things differently and willingness to share knowledge Willingness to be wrong, appear ignorant Resources (time, knowledge, materials, transport) Commitment to the process
  5. 5. Why has NBDC taken PAR approach? Base-line research conducted in three NBDC sites at the start of the project identified the following issues with NRM planning and implementation: •Weak cross-sector collaboration and coordination •Lack of relevance to local priorities •Limited community participation in planning processes •No voluntary collective action •Poor follow up and monitoring Research shows it is essential that NRM interventions take into account local community knowledge, needs and aspirations for them to be successful. This includes a range of local stakeholders as well as farmers. But as the implementers of interventions it’s particularly important to understand why farmers do what they do... often have very good reasons, not simply ‘lacking awareness’.
  6. 6. NBDC community engagement methods Transect walks Participatory mapping Focus group discussions Problem identification & ranking Participatory Video What information did these methods produce?
  7. 7. Fogera Actors Main issue Related issue IP members Unrestricted grazing Land degradation Community Restricting grazing Shortage of grazing/fodder Water scarcity Seasonal water shortages Soil conservation Organization of campaign work Fodder development chosen for pilot interventions due to common concerns around the issue of unrestricted grazing and the impact on SWC structures.
  8. 8. Fogera case study Agreement between IP members and community members about restricting free grazing, but different views about how this should be done. IP members would like grazing to be restricted but farmers are concerned about a number of issues: •HH without livestock unable to collect dung for fuel if livestock are restricted •Inability for livestock to breed without AI services •Insufficient fodder production to meet livestock needs, particularly for those with less land •Greater burden of labour on women with cut and carry system •Limited access to communal areas for funerals/wedding etc due to enclosures Range of interventions are needed over longer time frame to address these issues. Restricting grazing can’t be addressed over night!
  9. 9. Diga Actors Main issue Related issue IP members Soil Erosion Land degradation Community Termite infestation Land degradation & deforestation Crop damage: baboons Deforestation Crop disease Land degradation & climatic changes Fodder development chosen for pilot interventions due to common concerns around land degradation, particularly termite infestation and deterioration of communal grazing lands.
  10. 10. Diga case study Agreement between IP members and community members about problem of land degradation, but IP members prioritized problems with soil conservation whereas community members prioritized termite infestation because of the impact on livelihoods- potential conflict. Important to align interests of IP members and community members by linking issues of land degradation, termite infestation and fodder interventions. Termite infestation linked to broader issues of land and water management. To ensure both issues were taken into account NBDC initiated termite ‘research into use’ project which is linked to the fodder interventions. This has been appreciated by both community members and IP members.
  11. 11. Jeldu Actors IP members Community Main issue Related issue Soil Erosion Land degradation Feed shortage Deforestation & degradation of grazing lands Land degradation & Crop Disease climatic change Landlessness Land fragmentation & livelihood deterioration Fodder development chosen for pilot interventions due to the common concerns around soil erosion and land degradation.
  12. 12. Jeldu case study Overall agreement between IP members and community members, perhaps because soil erosion and land degradation issues are more severe in Jeldu? Topography leads to soil erosion, severe problems with overpopulation and deforestation. Farmers very conscious of issues with SWC. ‘Awareness raising’ occurred at the same time as community engagement exercises which may have stopped them expressing other concerns. Need to make sure that farmer issues are taken into account. For example, how do we ensure that pilot interventions address the needs of farmers with no land or livestock?
  13. 13. Other PAR methods... Participatory Photography for M&E Digital Stories WAT-A-GAME These will be used for participatory M&E and upscaling. We hope to use them in all the three sites over the next year.
  14. 14. Importance of ensuring genuine community participation... NRM activities in Ethiopia have had limited success because of top-down approach. Farmers often destroyed NRM work undertaken under previous regimes. Major repercussions for environment and farmer livelihoods Similar problems can be seen in the IP activities. Reports of ‘good farmer participation’ in planning of pilot interventions, but problems with ‘lack of awareness’, ‘lack of trust’, ‘lack of engagement’ in implementation of pilot interventions... Why is this? Still issues with how decision makers engage with local communities and bring them into the process. A lot of talk about ‘participation’ but little knowledge about how to put it into action. Stakeholder capacity building needed.
  15. 15. Dangers... We can undertake participatory approaches and use PRA methods in our action research but it’s important to listen to the results and make sure they are taken into account in project design... In Fogera we undertook a Participatory Video exercise, but even when the video was screened to IP members the community concerns were not included in the design of pilot interventions. This resulted in the failure of first pilot intervention site... community members refused to participate and the pilot interventions had to be moved to another site.
  16. 16. Implications for NBDC & national NRM objectives Community participation and stakeholder involvement is critical to achieving improved RWM. If we don’t take community knowledge and concerns into account our interventions are unlikely to succeed. There is a danger that we enforce inappropriate interventions thereby adding to environmental and livelihood deterioration. OR