Before I explain my research in detail it is helpful to explain my disciplinary background as this has informed my approach to research In it’s simplest terms Anthropology is the study of human beings. Main methodological approach is participant observation. This involves living in the research context for extended periods of time to understand how a particular group sees the world. (For my PhD research I lived with Karrayyu Oromo pastoralists for two years to gain first hand knowledge of their way of life) Applied anthropology is anthropology put to use. Anthropological insights can be applied to a range of fields- medicine, education, development. Due to my experiences in Ethiopia I have focused on anthropology for development, and in particular ways of enabling communities to become more involved in development processes. This can also involve assisting communities to express what they want, as well as explaining the intentions behind development interventions and potential implications so they can make informed choices.
I have specialised in is participatory approaches to research for development. Traditional approaches to research for development are often driven by researcher interests and what ‘we’ think is important Participatory research takes a bottom-up approach and research participants are involved in the process from beginning to end Participants and researchers are equally involved in the production and use of knowledge. An important approach if we are to ensures that research for development is beneficial and relevant for everyone involved
Innovation platforms, participatory video and WAT-A-GAME for participatory NRM: Experiences from Ethiopia
Innovation platforms, participatory video and
WAT-A-GAME for participatory NRM: Experiences
International Livestock Research Institute
Presented at IRSTEA, Montpellier
17 December 2013
Anthropology: the study of human beings, their culture, behaviour,
beliefs, and ways of living.
‘Applied anthropologists use the knowledge, skills and perspective
of their discipline to help solve human problems and facilitate
change’ (Chambers, 1985).
Anthropology for development: what do ‘they’ want?
Participatory 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
•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
•Iterative- action and critical reflection takes place throughout
My work so far has focused on...
•Gathering knowledge about communities through participatory
•Using and developing participatory research methods to involve
participants in research and development processes
•Working with participants to apply knowledge to practical
•Documenting and analysing the results collaboratively
•Using the findings to influence interventions and policy
Overview of NBDC project...
Nile Basin Development Challenge aims to improve the
resilience of rural livelihoods in the Ethiopian highlands
through a landscape approach to rainwater management.
Focus on policies and institutions
(not just technological interventions)
Historically NRM interventions in Ethiopia have been topdown leading to limited sustainability of interventions.
Base-line research conducted in three NBDC sites at the
start of the project identified the following issues:
•Isolated technical interventions
•Lack of cross-sector collaboration and coordination
•Weaknesses in technical design
•Poor follow up and monitoring
•Lack of relevance to local priorities
•Lack of voluntary collective action
Development of a working hypothesis...
• Development of integrated strategies by a range of
stakeholders which consider technologies, policies and
institutions will demonstrate an alternative approach to
top-down implementation and lead to improved NRM.
But how do we achieve this?
A need-based network bringing together stakeholders from
different interest groups, disciplines, sectors and organisations to
exchange knowledge and resources, generate innovation and
develop joint action.
Established in Fogera in July 2011. Participants include:
•Bureau of Agriculture
(Natural Resource, Water, Women,
Cooperatives, Land Use, Livestock)
•Adet Agricultural Research Center,
•Andassa Livestock Research Center,
•Ethio-Wetlands and Natural Resources Association (NGO),
Joint identification of common NRM issue
to ensure collective action
But this raised a series of challenges...
Community members often dominated by more powerful actors with
significant implications for both entry point selection and subsequent
Lack of common understanding about NRM issues between the
different platform members, leading to competing agendas and
conflicting perspectives about potential solutions.
Need for facilitation
‘Innovation brokering’ required to address issues of representation and
power and work with actors to change these dynamics. Questions
about who should act as broker- ‘internal’ or ‘external’ actors.
Restricted grazing prioritised as an issue but different views about how it
should be addressed. Farmers concerned about a number of issues:
•HH without livestock unable to collect dung for fuel
•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 with cut and carry system
•Limited access to communal areas for funerals/wedding etc. due to
Range of interventions needed over longer time frame.
Participatory Video screened to Innovation Platform members
80,000 ETB was allocated to the platform
to fund action research activities
Proposals and action plans were
developed by IP members according to
Actions should be cross-sectoral,
participatory, designed to address RWM
issues and targeted to suitable area
A site was selected within the designated
Fodder interventions chosen due to
common concerns around the issue of
Action to take place at household level,
farmland and communal land
Fodder interventions complement SLM campaign - but small scale
Stakeholder Capacity Building
A lot of talk about ‘participatory planning’ but difficult to put it into action.
WAT-A-GAME as a way forward?
Aims to develop tools and operational frameworks for
Integrated Natural Resource Management (INRM) that can
be applied at meso-scale in a variety of environmental and
socio-economic conditions in Africa.
Also to provide participatory management options for INRM
which are embedded in local traditions and culture, and are
Fogera is one of the Afromaison case study sites.
NBDC and AfroMaison researchers worked together to model the Fogera
catchment and simulate RWM issues and dynamics identified by stakeholders:
water availability, run-off, soil erosion and the impact of different land-use
The aim was to use the model to:
• Improve stakeholder understanding about natural resource challenges
and the needs/priorities of different social actors
• Nurture critical discussion, about linkages between
upstream/midstream/downstream actors and potential conflicts associated
with the use and management of natural resources,
• Facilitate collective exploration of alternative strategies which could lead
to more sustainable and effective NRM interventions
WAT-A-GAME: not just about the tool,
process is important too...
1st WAG workshop
1st workshop (Dec 2012) aimed to develop strategies
which capture the priorities, knowledge and perspectives
of farmers and decision makers, and make commonalities
and differences visible.
2nd WAG workshop
2nd workshop (April 2013) reviewed strategies developed
during first workshop and created a merged strategy.
Potential challenges to implementation were discussed and
ideas for solutions were generated, including incentives for
different actor groups.
3rd WAG workshop
3rd workshop (September 2013) explored equity issues in
more detail through micro game.
Discussed roles and responsibilities of different actor groups
and developed concrete plans for taking the strategy into
action through pilot implementation.
•Participatory process resulted in the identification of ‘wicked
problems’, which led to very different research questions and
•Greater understanding of power dynamics and equity issues, and
their impact on multi-stakeholder processes (including NRM
•Development of a joint strategy focusing on a ‘common issue’
which is tailored to different socio-economic and biophysical niches
•Some changes in knowledge, attitudes and practice among IP
members but may not lead to wide-scale change
•Need for continued work at different scales, i.e. a ‘nested’
innovation platform approach
•Workshop to finalise concept note with committee members - to
be held in January. CN will be used to seek funds for pilot
interventions - potential donors already identified
ways of linking WAT-A-GAME process to biophysical
modelling - scenarios for discussion with stakeholders
potential for upscaling WAT-A-GAME as a decision
support tool - explore ways of making it more user friendly
up work to assess the impact of the process to date on
stakeholder understandings of key issues
•Develop better methods for monitoring and evaluating impact of