This paper discusses the nature of local people's knowledge and the important role it can play in fostering a participatory development process in rural areas. The paper draws its case material from two tree planting and woodland manangement projects in Zimbabwe (Shurugwi Agroforestry Project and Zvishavane-Chivi indigenous woodland management project). First, the conceptual framework is analysed in which rural people's knowledge has been placed, in particular by people from other cultures. The second part of the paper assesses how official knowledge has been promulgated among rural people in Zimbabwe by way of historical analysis of forestry extension practices. Thirdly attention is given to how knowledge is structured at the local level. Finally two projects are examined which attempt to bridge the gap between official and rural people's knowledge. Although some RRA methods are employed, such as ranking tree species, the methodology and sources of information are not made clear. (Based on the authors' summary)
This article will be of most interest to anthroplogists and community foresters in southern Africa.
International Institute for Environment and Development