Compas (Comparing and Supporting Endogenous Development) is an international programme whose aim is to understand and encourage the diversity of rural people's knowledge and expand inter-cultural dialogues on farmer's knowledge and indigenous learning. The March 2001 issue of Compas Magazine focuses on indigenous traditional knowledge and the challenges these traditions face in the modern world. It includes articles on perceptions of traditions, positive and negative aspects of tradition, Mayan concepts of health, participatory rapid assessment of local Indian health traditions, and eco-cultural villages in Zimbabwe. (full text of this is available on their website)
In 1993, a collaboration was forged between the Center for Medical Guidance and Family Planning (CEMOPLAF) and World Neighbors-Ecuador (WN) to encourage the participation of indigenous populations to utilise reproductive health services provided by CEMOPLAF. The partnership was implemented through the sensitive integration of these services with agriculture and animal husbandry, which resulted in a dramatic uptake by local people. This newsletter follows a learning exchange which took place from November 18 - 26, 2000, between interdisciplinary teams from WN programs in Bolivia, Haiti, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru and key members of the CEMOPLAF-World Neighbors program in Ecuador. The exchange allowed the participants to explore and analyse the different aspects of the program, draw on their own experiences in relation to implementing reproductive health programs, and understand more fully an integrated approach to implementing reproductive health programs.
Spanish language conference paper on use of PRA for evaluating different aspects of pressure on and conflict about communal national park resources.
Conference paper on use of PRA in conflict resolution in National Parks in Venzuela.
This study explores the method of wheat production among the Mapuche of Repocura, a poor indigenous area in the south of Chile, and how this can be successfully combined with the capacity and understanding of formal researchers. Six typical properties were selected after examining the land of 115 smallholdings, and a survey was done of those in charge of wheat technology in the main productive areas of the region. The authors concluded that for Mapuche knowledge to be successfully combined with the capacity and understanding of formal researchers, the latter must first change their values and recognise the worth of forming partnerships with peasants. Secondly, high quality interfaces between the producer and apparatus for the production of agricultural technology are required. The most immediate obstacle to achieving such an interface is identified as the isolation of peasant knowledge from its social and ecological context, which leads to significant errors of interpretation, assimilation, and application. The authors argue that such a creative interface is unlikely to occur for some time to come unless state and NGO decisionmakers working in peasant farming take the necessary political decisions to change the nature of agricultural research and extension intervention.
The author identifies the key problem of agricultural research and extension in the Peruvian Andes as the result of a clash of two incompatible knowlege systems: one based on Western science, hegemonic in Peru since the Conquest and actively propagated in the practices of top-down agricultural research institutions, the other based on an Andean world-view in which cosmology, metaphor, and ritual still largely determine the semantic categories used by Andean peasants to explain their agricultural practises. Taking the potato as an example, she contrasts peasant discourse with the Greeen Revolution approach still dominant in potato research and advocated by the International Potato Centre (CIP). Improving the communication skills of researchers by understanding the Andean world-view is posited as the only way agricultural and extension in the Andean region can begin better to address the real needs of Andean peasants. She registers some positive developments in this direction: the emergence of bilingual education programmes, the workshopping boom in which peasant and other experts are increasingly sharing and exchanging knowledge, and the postgraduate course in Andean peasant agriculture at the University of Ayacucho in which professionals learn how to perceive reality in Andean categories with courses such as : Holistic conceptions in Andean agriculture, agrocentric culture, the endogenous vision of Andean culture, the organisation of the peasant community, Andean agro -astronomy, and Andean cosmology and religion.
Field observations have led many people to believe that beneficiary participation in decision making can contribute greatly to the success of development projects. When people influence or control the decisions that affect them, they have a greater stake in the outcome and will work harder to ensure success. But the evidence supporting this reasoning is qualitative so that many practictioners remain skeptical. Three questions need to be addressed: to what degree does participation contribute to project effectiveness? which beneficiary and agency characteristics foster the process? and, if participation does benefit project outcomes, how can it be encouraged through policy and project design? To answer these questions, researchers studied evaluations of 121 completed rural water supply projects in forty-nine developing countries around the world. The results show that beneficiary participation contributes significantly to project effectiveness, even after statistically controlling for the effects of 17 other factors. The basic conclusion of this study is that rural water projects must be fundamentally redesigned in order to reach the one billion rural poor who lack a sustainable water supply. Redesign must encompass a shift from supply-driven planning to demand-responsive, participatory approaches to ensure beneficiary participation, control, and ownership.