The effects of Hurricane Mitch in 1998 and the subsequent 10 years' worth of rain which fell in five days brought environmental and agricultural devastation to Central America. World Neighbors (WN) had worked for many years on the promotion of soil and water conservation; the hurricane provided an opportunity for WN to study the effectiveness of this work in combating the disastrous effects of a potentially destructive climate and this newsletter gives details their work. They decided to carry out Participatory Action Research (PAR), a level of study which not only allowed the involvement of those most greatly affected by the climate - the local people - but other participants who expanded their own knowledge through the research methods and results. The system used was a pairing of plots with similar characteristics such as location and vegetation, but which provided a sharing of data through a direct comparison of agro-ecological and conventional cultivation. Other organizations were invited to participate in the study and form teams with the farmers, and all participants attended a workshop to learn methodologies. The methods used to analyse different variables such as slope, top soil thickness, texture, organic matter, insect and animal life, vegetation, erosion, landslides, and conservation practices are detailed along with the findings and lessons learned.
This book includes a wide ranging collection of papers which have been divided into sections dealing with communicating with children, gender empowerment, community interactive processes, approaches and insights, ethics and values of community participation and organizational capacity building.
Listening for change: participatory evaluations of DDR and arms reduction in Mali, Cambodia and Albania
This paper complements the series of case studies produced by UNIDIR's Weapons for Development project on weapons collection activities in Mali Albania and Cambodia. The author draws out some for the central threads of the three studies-tin terms of methodology, analysis and guidelines for future policy and research. It is a concrete and practical contribution to helping policy makers, donor countries, UN agencies and NGOs devise better strategies and incentives for such programmes.
Thousands of farmers who sought refuge in urban centres during the ten-year civil war in Mozambique are now returning to their farms. In response to this changing situation, VetAid, a UK-based NGO, is planning a community restocking programme. PRA methods were used to gather information on the socio-economic, ecological and political conditions in the villages. This information was then used help design a restocking programme appropriate to the needs of the community. The article describes some of the methods which were used, which included wealth ranking, informal interviews, matrix ranking, diagrams and historical transects.
Local government using participatory methods to facilitate stakeholder dialogue and conflict resolution
This article outlines a project that took place in Newcastle, in the UK in 2000. Instigated by Community Services in Newcastle City Council, it brought Local Authority officials, University staff, students and local residents together to try and solve the problems created by areas of high student concentration. These problems included increased noise, parked cars and a general perception of anti-social behaviour which led to resident complaints. The paper describes this process, including the staff training that was needed, the participatory methods used, the move from analysis to action and the results and lessons of the project.
This hand-written report describes the rehabilitation work after an earthquake in1993 as planned by a consultant on community participation and social planning to the World Bank. It describes the framework and institutional arrangement for the rehabilitation work; the process for relocation of villages; and the planning of village layouts. It presents brief bullet pointed lists for planning rapid assessment of peopleÆs views on house design, and of constraints faced in institutionalising participatory processes.
This report provides an assessment of the conditions in Montserrat by people in Montserrat. It begins by discussing the impact of the start of a volcanic eruption in 1995 on peopleÆs lives and government action. By 1998 a four-year Sustainable Development Plan was set out with a strategy to rebuild Montserrat and its social fabric. The report discusses peopleÆs own perceptions and definitions of poverty and hardship with reference to a wide range of factors. Three groups emerged as being particularly vulnerable: single headed households; the elderly; and the mentally challenged. A discussion is then made of coping strategies people have developed that illustrate a high degree of resilience and resourcefulness. Finally, a discussion is made about how PPA can help the sustainable development process. It is found that it provides a more disaggregated assessment of who is facing what levels of poverty and hardship; it can help to assess the impact of policies on peopleÆs lives; and it provides a more informal channel for feeding peopleÆs views up to the government.
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.