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Participatory Development Research. Enhancing Capacity within Applied Research - Case: Livestock

Halberg, Senior researcher Niels and Schou Larsen, Carl Erik (2003) Participatory Development Research. Enhancing Capacity within Applied Research - Case: Livestock. In: Dolberg, Frands and Petersen, Poul Henning (Eds.) http://www.ihh.kvl.dk/htm/php/Tune03/index2.htm.

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Online at: http://www.ihh.kvl.dk/htm/php/Tune03/index2.htm

Summary

The acceptance of the ideals of participatory and cross-disciplinary approaches in agricultural research for development is now widespread in the development sector and with good reason. However, in spite of the importance of these approaches when addressing smallholder livestock farming systems the real success stories are few, probably because of the difficulties in cross-disciplinary research and the lack of a clear understanding of participatory approaches among many researchers. There is a need to share experiences with these approaches among researchers and development officers. This paper uses three examples of Danida funded research for development projects to discuss ideas of participatory action research and cross-disciplinarity against experiences from the field.
Action research is an activity that combines research and development by trying to help local people solving an immediate problematic situation and simultaneously building general knowledge using scientific methods. This gives the researcher a dual role as participant and observer of the system through the phases of the research cycle, e.g. problem identification, planning of interventions, implementation/action and finally observation as a basis for another round starting with a revised problem description. Cross disciplinarity is needed to research the complex interactions between crops, livestock, farm management and off-farm activities in smallholder systems and their link with questions such as marketing, environmental pressure, gender issues and poverty. Cross-disciplinary collaboration between researchers vary in the extent of integration of the different disciplines from Multidisciplinary over Inter- to Trans-disciplinary and it seems important to be aware of the ambitions in a project from the outset. Large resources are needed to carry out truly Trans-disciplinary research because time is needed for researchers to agree on a common methodology, coordinate data recording and interpretation which give both Intra-Project and Extra-project challenges.
The challenges of participation and cross-disciplinarity were addressed differently in the three reviewed projects as demonstrated in the paper. Important experiences for researchers and results for farmers have been gained in all three projects but none of them succeeded in being both Cross-disciplinary and truly participatory at the same time. The projects demonstrate a significant development during their lifetime and a clear commitment by the researchers to serve development purposes involving local stakeholders at different stages in the process. These experiences should therefore encourage a more widespread interaction between development programmes and research in the future. It has proven difficult to establish and maintain cross-disciplinary research projects for a number of reasons, some of which rely on researcher attitudes and traditions and others on funding mechanisms.


EPrint Type:Conference paper, poster, etc.
Type of presentation:Paper
Keywords:cross-disciplinary, research, development, livestock research, tropical farming systems, action research, case study
Subjects: Knowledge management > Research methodology and philosophy > Systems research and participatory research
Research affiliation: Denmark > AU - Aarhus University > AU, DJF - Faculty of Agricultural Sciences
Related Links:http://www.ihh.kvl.dk/htm/php/Tune03/, http://www.ihh.kvl.dk/htm/php/ardaf.php
Deposited By: Halberg, Director, PhD Niels
ID Code:2466
Deposited On:29 Mar 2004
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:29
Document Language:English
Status:Published
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed

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