It sets out to discuss the rise of agroecosystems analysis and rapid rural appraisal, as well as charting participatory methods of analysis. More specifically the paper contains sections on the following: (1) agroecosystem concepts; (2) agroecosystem analysis; (3) Rapid Rural Appraisal; and (4) Participatory Analysis.
Farmer-based methods: farmers' diagrams for improving methods of experimental design in integrated farming systems
This paper describes a method of farmer participation which aims at more sustainable farming systems. In this method groups of farmers draw conceptual models on paper or on the ground using sticks, seeds, ash, or whatever is to hand to improve on-farm experimental design. Material flow models help farmers see how diverse enterprises can be integrated. Examples from India, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Malawi are given. Farmers' drawings foster two-way communication between researchers and farmers. The participatory methods described can help many more farmers integrate agroforestry and aquaculture into their farming systems for better livelihoods and regenerated environments.
Farmer-first qualitive methods: farmers' diagrams for improving methods of experimental design in integrated farming systems
This paper presents examples of how farmers' diagrams put farmers' ideas and knowledge first in on-farm research priority setting, experimental layouts, and integrated farming-system design. Although they concern the integration of aquaculture and agriculture, these procedures are just as useful for those wanting to integrate agroforestry, livestock, or any new enterprise into the farming system. It advances the idea that farmers' diagrams can improve field methods in on-farm research. Qualitative methods are directed at putting farmers' ideas first, increasing the number of farmers able to participate, and orienting technology testing to farm-system levels. The paper illustrates how farmers' diagrams can help put farmers' ideas about on-farm research priorities, experimental layouts, and integrated-farming-system designs first.
Two RRAs, each lasting five days, were carried out in two villages in the North of Cameroon, a CARE Canada project area. LEARN (Local Environmental Analysis and Assessment of Rural Needs) type of RRA was used to focus on the environmental problems. None of the team had used LEARN in the field, so this was very much a training exercise, with an honest account of failings as well as successes. A checklist covering "what needs to be known", "indicators" and "methods to be used" formed the basis for guiding activities, choosing respondents and topics of discussion. Field activities are described in detail, and methods (especially interviewing techniques) analysed. Specific characteristics of LEARN are evaluated, as well as the "reliability and representativeness" of the information gained. Findings of the research are given in sections 6 - 12 : sections 1 - 4 are devoted to methodology and training aspects.
This paper looks at two attempts by nutritional consultants to use a stress calendar to improve community nutrition. This technique involves plotting factors affecting nutrition on a monthly basis to see when there is likely to be a deterioration of nutritional status. Initially this was used to assist Save the Children Fund (Norway) establish the food, nutrition and health situation in their community development project area in East Palpa, Nepal. Using a diagrammatic nutritional calendar it was shown that months corresponding to the rainy season experienced a bunching of stress factors and consequent child mortality. There, the outcome was the decision to concentrate resources before the rainy season to familiarise villagers with the oral rehydration treatment of diarrhoea. Secondly it was used to examine at what time aquaculture could improve nutrition in villages on the Chipata Plateau, Zambia. Here the team noted the consumption of various foods throughout the year and they decided that the availability of fish could make a significant contribution to the diet and income of the poor. It is considered therefore that the way stress calendars portray information has a number of advantages, particularly the timing and nature of relevant interventions.
A comparison of two pieces of research for Save the Children, Norway which set out to compile "stress calendars" to improve community nutrition. There is a clear discussion of the research technique - plotting nutrition factors on a monthly basis, to establish when in the year nutritional status is most likely to be at risk. Case study areas were East Palpa, Nepal and Chipatu Plateau, Zambia. Although a smilar research technique was used, the object of the exercise was different in each case. In Nepal, the exercise determined that the greatest problems existed during the monsoon which fed into a decision to concentrate nutritional support in the period before monsoon. In Zambia the exercise determined when aquaculture could best be targetted to improve nutritional status in the villages.
Food for Development: New roles for food aid in Ethiopia: Report of the World Food Programe Development Mission
This is an extensive report investigating emergency food aid and the integration between this and regular food supplies. After an outline on national food policies in Ethiopia and agricultural background, in particular details of food for work programmes, the approach taken by the assessment team is detailed. Annex 2 covers the use of RRA in Rapid Food Security Assessment; objectives, key issues, checklists (detailed in Annex 3), methods, toolbox and procedures. Annex 4 gives examples of situations where RFSA has been used, with the feeling that as much as possible was discovered