This paper presents some basic challenges faced by ZOA-Refugee Care, an international Christian NGO, in Rwanda in recent years. The organisation has been working in the post-1994 genocide and war period to provide emergency aid, and now increasingly focuses on community development work. The paper reports on the background of the project, issues around institutional environment and organisation change of ZOA-Rwanda, notes from the PRA sessions held, and follow-up processes. Along with specific recommendations, it is seen that the decentralisation policy of the Rwandan government offers a good opportunity for a participatory approach, particularly as local authorities have a large impact on the progress of a development programme and are crucial to inducing change.
This paper focuses on the Tana Beles area in Gojam, Ethiopia, where in the mid-1980s almost 80,000 people were resettled from different parts of the country. Many of the settlers experienced severe difficulties in adapting to the new environment . These difficulties, combined with the implementation of a large-sc ale infrastructure project with a very top-down approach, resulted in a strong material and psychological dependency on external aid and assistance. Following the suspension in 1991 of all foreign projects in the area, the challenge has been to enhance the transition from emergency aid to self-reliant and self-sufficient development. The paper describes how PRA techniques were used to explore general adjustment problems and constraints, needs and priorities, as well as the expectationsand aspirations of the settlers. It was found that 'in this specific context of general upheaval, PRA represents a particularly useful approach to understand how people react to such disruption and develop new coping strategies'. Furthermore, in development projects characterized by 'project dependency' PRA introduces a valuable external stimulus favouring self-awareness and a crucial means for encouraging people to become self-reliant.
The article discusses the issue of conflict and the skills required to deal with it, in the context of two FAO projects in Guinea and Tanzania. In the Guinea example an exploratory RRA investigating food security issues in a fishing community revealed conflict between the project credit scheme and the local community over the repayment of loans. In the second example an exploratory appraisal focusing on nutrition and food security in fishing communities in Tanzania uncovered layers of corruption and manipulation in the management of the credit team. This was the cause of conflict between the communities and the project. Although in these examples a constructive resolution to the problems was found, it does raise questions about whether facilitators and researchers have the skills to deal with such situations.
Describes how storytelling was used during a PRA training course in Cameroon. The stories provided a useful entry point for discussion on issues such as nature conservation. The paper concludes that storytelling can be an appropriate way of initiating a dialogue with local people on potentially conflictual issues.
Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) was used to assess people's perceptions of the benefits and difficulties of their life near Mole National Park in northern Ghana. PRA was frequently the only approach acceptable to villagers biased by years of mistrust and conflict with the Ghanaian Department of Game and Wildlife (GWD). The paper briefly recounts the methods used and problems encountered, the most significant of which was the suspicion and antagonism towards GWD by the villagers. Reviewing some of the lessons learned, the paper concludes that 'if obtaining community participation is crucial to ensuring the sustainability of protected areas then PRA must be viewed as an important component of any conservation approach'.
The report outlines the findings and process of a participatory planning exercise initiated by Oxfam in northern Mutara, Rwanda. After the genocide of 1994, some community structures were becoming visible in the Mutara region which indicated potential for a development programme. It was also seen as an important area because from 1994 there was an emerging environmental crisis with large numbers of people and cattle entering an environmentally fragile area. The first three days were spent training NGO staff and local authority and community members in PRA methods and participatory approaches to development. This was followed by one week working with three communities, and culminated in drawing up outlines of action plans. The report discusses the approach and process of participatory learning and planning; what was learned from secondary sources; and the methods used and findings of the PRA exercises in the three communities.
A two-year project investigated modes of conflict management in a pastoral society in north-western Kenya, and tried to find causes for successful or non-successful (that is, non-violent or violent) conflict behaviour. PRA methods were used in an effort to speed up the normally lengthy process of obtaining data on conflict management. The study found that internal conflict was managed fairly successfully despite being thoroughly informal. This stood in sharp contrast to violent inter-ethnic conflicts. The reasons for these differences were many and complex. The paper concludes that although an appreciable amount of descriptive data may be gathered by using PRA methods, they are more limited when it comes to identifying the causes of conflict behaviour.
Monitoring Food Security and Coping Strategies: Lessons Learnt From The SADS Project of Save The Children Fund (UK), Mopti Region, Mali: Field Report on Methodological Questions
SCF(UK) established a local food security monitoring project called SADS in the Mopti region of Mali, which has been operational since 1987. It aimed to identify who was vulnerable, where, when and why, and to provide appropriate information to decision makers. This working paper describes some of the lessons learnt from the experience of monitoring food security and coping strategies. Information was collected by field staff from rural people, and this paper examines the use of such qualitative and semi-quantitative data, and the problems associated with using local knowledge systems. The approach to data collection belongs loosely to that associated with RRA. Information was collected by project staff using checklists and semi-structured interviews with key informants, listening to oral histories and discussions at village meetings. SADS also uses sentinel sites called 'listening posts' which are located in positions to gain insight into larger areas. Information was collected on agricultural and fish production, on-farm stocks, off-farm employment, consumption and migration. This was supplemented by secondary data, particularly on rainfall. Seasonal calendars were drawn up to show food access, activities and coping strategies for different producer groups, and this has led to the use of seasonally specific monitoring indicators. SADS shows that a relatively low cost methodology for monitoring food security can be established, based mainly on socio-economic data, that can provide timely and reliable warnings of localised food insecurity.
This reports on ActionAid's project aimed at strengthening emergency preparedness and responses in famine vulnerable areas in a number of African countries. It examines the setting up of Community Based Food Security Monitoring Systems (CBMS) that help field staff make timely predictions about impending food shortages. One of the principles of a CBMS is that it is 'people-centred', and the community should be involved with data collection, interpretation and response. The aim is to build up a picture of the way peoples' livelihoods operate and what constraints and stresses they face. To assess the food security situation, PRA techniques are used including semi-structured interviews with key informants and group discussions with farmers and village leaders. PRA is also used to collect data on early warning indicators. The paper comments however that it is best not to take a full community-managed approach in circumstances where a number of participatory prerequisites are not in place.
Nutritional surveillance, as part of, or complementary to, the famine early warning system in Ethiopia, has been used to collect reports on local food security from community leaders using structured interviews. It is important to assess the extent to which this information reflects the food-related behaviour of the community. Information on various socio-economic variables related to nutrition was collected at the household and community level through interviews in western Shewa Province. The data was compared and generally the correspondence between the two was good. Information topics which might be missed using only the local leader, and ways to improve collection are discussed.