Experience of living and working in Zambia led the author to reflect on the differences in understanding and communication. This wide-ranging account looks at concepts such as "time" as expressed in Swahili and English, and how a "magic" world view affects the concept of causal relations. Concerned particularly with pictures as "the link between written and oral lifestyles", the author goes on to analyse his Zambian friends' perspective. Though he draws on studies of visual literacy, such as George McBean's, and lists the visual "cues" (eg perspective, superimposition) which people lack, his starting point is less ethnocentric. When a woman states that there is more Fanta in a high glass than a short glass (though it has been shown to be the same quantity), he questions "why should we consider it 'less logical' to attribute 'moreness' to something visually dominant like width or height than to attribute 'sameness' to something invisible like weight?" In oral societies people appear to be more used to verbalising "what they do not what they see" and they expect pictures to "contain what they know about objects, not just what they see". "Memory pictures" which, for example, show all four wheels of a car through twisting the picture in space, are one way of meeting peoples' visual expectations. There are many observations in this book besides those on visual literacy (eg on "greetings" in different cultures and ways of learning) which would interest PRA practitioners.
This chapter describes the authors' experience of undertaking a 3-week survey of an area in India where a drinking water project was to be implemented. The authors state their surprise at how much could be achieved in three weeks, but note some conditions for this. The conditions and process of fieldwork are described in detail. Consideration of what constitutes a 'region' as a useful/valid unit for research is discussed: where does one include and how does one do the job? Problems of validity and reliability are discussed. The major problems with this sort of rapid appraisal are discussed in the conclusion. A postscript (1985) gives a reaction to the experience 5 years later, in which they further stress the limitations of rapid fieldwork.
This article argues that it is not always necessary to undertake costly surveys. A rapid reconnaissance 'sounding' of the local situation should generate sufficient information to enable a project to be started which will generate more information as it proceeds. The reasons for a cultural preference among planning officials for surveys - which often generate more information than is needed - are discussed, as are the dangers of using a limited set of conventional information gathering methods - which can miss key facets of rural lives. Ways of gaining a better understanding through 'soundings' are discussed, including officials chatting in a more informal style, using the sondeo method, involving local people as researchers and group discussions. The validity of soundings data is explored. The data requirements for practical action differ from the requirements of routine reporting systems. Attitudes and behaviour must also change to enable officials to use imagination and lateral thinking about information requirements and collection methods. Examples are drawn from health and hygiene.
This paper emphasises the importance of understanding agroecosystems by employing cross-disciplinary approaches and drawing on of farmers' knowledge where appropriate. The systems approach and procedures for agroecosystem analysis are outlined. Pattern analysis (of time, space, flows and decision-making) are considered. The paper focuses on key questions which arise in the process of system definition, pattern analysis and discussion of system properties. These concepts are illustrated diagramatically throughout.
Community-Based Workshops for Evaluating and Planning Sanitation Programs: A Case Study of Primary Schools Sanitation in Lesotho
The Lesotho Primary Schools Sanitation Project, undertaken in 1976-9, had limited success. When a follow-up project was proposed, it was decided to hold workshops to find out the communities' views on how the follow-up should be designed. Workshop participants included school and community representatives, ministerial and donor agency representatives. This paper describes the results of those workshops held in March 1981. Most of the report discusses technical implications of the workshop discussions. A final section discusses the role of community based workshops in development planning.
This extract discusses ways in which outsiders can change the ways they learn about rural conditions. These include improving development tourism and using RRA techniques. The principles and methods underlying reversals in learning are examined, including sitting, asking, listening; learning from the poorest, learning indigenous technical knowledge through compiling glossaries of local terms and employing games, quantification and ranking methods. Learning can be supported by the way organisations are managed, so reversals in management are important. Styles of communication, staff transfer policies and practice, and enabling and empowering poor clients are discussed. The final section emphasises the primacy of personal action in changing practices in rural development.