Change and innovation in the Volta Basin Development Challenge program
Change and Innovation in the
Volta Basin Development
A Working Presentation
Karen Marie Greenough, PhD
V5, VBDC Science Meeting
18 September 2013
Meeting & Tours
VBDC Changes and
People: RTF &
Objectives of the Research
To discover changes – possibly innovations –
that result from project activities
Among researchers, facilitators and extension
agents partnered or subcontracted within the
Among local project participants (and non-
participants): producers, NGO members,
extension agents, bureaucrats, chefferie
To examine the characteristics of
“innovations” and “innovators”
To provide some conclusions about the
above for future projects
Methods: Meeting & Tours
Commod Workshops, BF & Gh
White Volta Basin Board Reorganization
Common System of Documentation
Atelier de Concertation de Haut Niveau
Field Tour & Reflection 2012
VSS Tour interviews
Gave a broader picture of change and drivers of change
Local participants and non-participants: 95
People not selected to participate in IPs or workshops
Interviews will show whether and how ideas generated by
project activities are spreading
Researchers, Technicians & Facilitators: 45
Many different stories and experiences
Many different views of change and innovation
Place Based Project No. Place Based Project No.
Ouaga all 13 Tamale V2 1
Ouahigouya V2 4 Nyankpala V2 6
Bobo V3/5 5 Lawra V2 1
Dedougou V4 2 Babille V2 2
24 Wa V2 1
Participants & other interviewees Bawku V3 2
Dano V4 3 Binaba V3 1
Diébougou V4 6 16
Naburnye V4 1
Tiankora V4 1 Binaba V3/4 21
Diourawo V4 2 Lawra V2 30
Bouroum-Bouroum V4 1 Golinga V2 10
Gaoua V4 3 Digu V2 12
R,T,F based elsewhere V1 & 2 5 Total Interviewees 140
Participants & other interviewees
Researchers, Technicians, Faciliatators Researchers, Technicians, Faciliatators
Coding interview transcriptions & field notes
Looking for patterns
Validating (or not) hypotheses and tentative
Coming up with new hypotheses
Social Network Analysis
People to people
People to Structures
Structures to Structures
Definitions of “innovations”
There seems to be a difference between northern
and local researchers
Local definitions : Not necessarily entirely new, but new to the
context, i.e. “new to us”
Characteristics of Innovators
Relatively wealthy: poor people do not have the
resources, including time, to innovate
Connected: through commercial networks and/or associations
Participants of projects tend to be selected because of
previous project work
Communication and innovation
Face to face connections between people are most
Meetings cannot provide needed comprehensive
Programs need to study “how” people communicate
within the projects and programs
Projects & innovation
All stakeholders must understand the precise type & level of participation
“Stuff” & “Accompaniment”: need local contributions from the start
People waiting for project activities or stuff seem less likely to innovate
Development, especially participatory, takes time
“We underestimated the time needed. We need researchers as dedicated staff for the
project core. We need to have more modest expectations of impacts.”
VBDC Changes and “Innovations”
Changes in outlooks, knowledge and skills
Local researchers benefit from working with farmers
on trial plots.
Villagers share knowledge that they have gained from
Villagers in Digu and Golinga build animal pens.
Local researchers understand that policy must be developed from
“In drafting policy, there should be room for adjustment when you move
from one place to another.”
Researchers, Tech, and Facilitators learn from each other.
“Well, in terms of experience, one new thing is working on water.”
“And then, the researchers’ manner of approaching the question. Don’t just
attack things like that. Really try to understand them and their causes.”
VBDC Changes and “Innovations”
Between villagers who never worked together before.
Between structures who have never worked together
“The project has definitely strengthened relationships with
New technologies and processes
Improved crop varieties
Rainwater harvesting techniques
The participatory techniques of
Fostering Innovation? … People
Research for Development involves
a multitude of very different kinds of people
with very different understandings
with very different goals
They don’t always understand each other
They can’t always talk to each other
Their goals may be in conflict with each other
They may only want “stuff” from each other
Villagers want inputs and technology.
Researchers want research results.
Everyone wants their per diem.
Seeing like Researchers
“It’s complicated! We have to have complex partnerships for complex problems. Of course, there
are transaction costs.”
“We need to involve the partner as early as possible to make them to understand the way we
imagine the process. This is the most important step of the project, and if we cannot succeed in
this first step, all the other steps will not work.”
CPWF is “like a kind of laboratory, where people are testing and experimenting without being too
mindful what that would mean in terms of demands on people implementing the projects.”
“But in recent years, I think innovation is more an issue of psychological appropriation. It’s very
important that local people have the impression that it comes from them, you see?”
“This project was more like a trial and error. So we did not have the impression that it was
really, completely well-planned.”
“It is very difficult to have a scientific project, and simultaneously to have to communicate to our
stakeholders. This requires different skills; it probably also requires different people.”
Seeing like Villagers
“They don’t like us.”
“I had to learn to humble myself.”
Researchers are a separate species:
They have more money than we will ever see in our lifetimes.
They travel very fast in rich vehicles; wear rich, fancy clothing;
live in rich, fancy houses.
They will never understand or respect us.
They can barely stand to be in the places we live.
They won’t drink our water or eat our food.
We watch them rush in and out …
Knowing that when one project leaves another will come;
Strategizing how to get as much as we can out of the one that is
Wondering whether to risk resources by trying new technology.
They can and do leave; we cannot.
1979 ABC diguettes en terre
DEF live fencing
1984-2004 GHI1 tree nurseries
2005-2009 GHI2 cordonnes pierres
2006-2009 JKL latrines
2012 foot pedal pump wells
2008 MNO open wells
2008-present PQR micro-credit
rainwater harvest training
A Sketch of Projects in One Village
Fostering Innovation? … Time
An Agricultural Innovation Systems approach
departs from a linear transfer from researcher to farmer
goes beyond previous participatory development approaches
Participatory development takes time for ..
understanding participatory approaches
communication: face to face discussion and informal conversation
for going in-depth to understand the context of situations
Analysis of studies throughout the program takes time.
Time must be designed into the program.
Donors & directors must have the patience necessary for
engaging participatory AIS development.
Fostering Innovation? … Communication
Developing innovations takes communication
The AIS program should monitor how communication is
happening among their stakeholders
Can researchers exchange with each other informally and often?
Are researchers, techs and facilitators engaging farmers in
Do researchers, techs and facilitators really understand the
Me? almost nothing.
I mean, what is the
definition of an
Fostering Innovation? … Investment
Who owns the development?
Researchers are reluctant to give up control.
Local stakeholders have little “stake” in the project.
Why should stakeholders care that you are trying to develop them?
An AIS program needs a careful balance between contributions
from local stakeholders and inputs.
Stakeholders should contribute money from the very beginning of
This means, however…
R4D personnel must deliver quality product.
All financing must be transparent.
All stakeholders must be engaged in two-way respectful conversations.
Aly Diarra, research assistant
Kalie Lassiter, intern
Anna Tarrant, intern
Karin Neumayer, intern
Our translators in Ghana and Burkina, especially
V5: Funke, Mahamoudou, Adjara, Joachim
Everyone who gave their time for
interviews, allowed us to attend your meetings
and workshops, and helped us with our site visits.