It draws on the experience of the author with regard to socio-economic surveys carried out in Kenya and elsewhere in East Africa. It considers problems in sampling, farmers' responses, the interview situation, survey staff, and various problems with regard to recording accuracy and data processing. The paper concludes by noting 20 key aspects that should be taken into account when designing surveys. These include: (1) careful selection and training of staff; (2) the importance of learning the farming systems in advance; (3) where possible to choose farmers for whom the key parameters are known from other sources; (4) utilize at least one full time supervisor resident in the survey area with independent transport; and (5) allow two thirds of the total period for activities other than the field survey, ie. data processing.
This paper discusses two related questions: Are research results usable? Are the data actually used in decision-making? Both are determined by the researcher's choice of research methodology. The links between choice of research methodology and the application of results is discussed through a simple conceptual model. A satisfactory link requires a decision to allocate part of research capacity to the evaluation of previous research. To demonstrate the difficulties involved in rigorous analysis, a case study of ten years of research for agricultural development in three East African countries (Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania) is reviewed. Deficiencies in agricultural planning and in applied research for agricultural development are discussed in detail. The causes of ineffective applied research are viewed as lying in scientific culture. An example of applied research with implemented solutions is given, emphasising the benefits of participant research and management procedures for planning.
This paper examines some of the assumptions underlying rapid appraisal of natural resources. Four case studies of varying complexity are presented to illustrate the range of possibilities in using ecological and environmental indicators to appraise aspects of the physical environment which might either be assessed by longer methods, or not at all. The cases concern the use of proxy variables to facilitate rapid assessment. These proxies are soil colour, plant indicators, soil erosion, and forest vegetation. The paper concludes that rapid appraisal of natural resources involves the use of proxy indicators, and that ecological and environmental systems are amenable to this type of treatment because of the high degree of interdependency between factors.
A theoretical framework for data-economising appraisal procedures with applications to rural development planning
The paper's objective is to construct a general framework which will increase the useful data, while reducing the cost of data collection in developing countries. The search for useful principles proceeds from the economics of information, via Karl Popper's principle of error reduction, and the use of information cybernetics in public decision-making, to the design of more cost-effective models of development processes, and the significance of alternative hierarchical administrative structures for the utility obtained from primary data. These components are combined into a unified logical framework. An integrated approach to management information is identified as a desirable adjunct for its application in practice.
It introduces the idea of rapid appraisal within the context of rural development. Its key themes are the cultural tensions that arise in rural development research efforts; the scope of RRA, its function and principles, and its challenge in developing a new professionalism, based on rigour and cost effectiveness. In emphasizing the need for eclecticism, inventiveness and versatility, and in questioning some conventional values in research, especially in statistics, it does not undervalue traditional standards and methods where they fit well. It acknowledges that it is easy to be rapid and wrong.