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by Ramon T. Ayco February 2008
As far back as 1988, 18% of rural households in developing countries were landless. Numerous studies have shown that this group of over 350 million people is the most vulnerable to poverty and the effects of land degradation. In their quest for food security, the rural poor often have little choice but to use their limited resources extensively. Their negligible natural and capital assets compels them to adopt survival strategies with short time horizons. They become excluded from productive opportunities by ill-defined or nonexistent property rights, limited access to financial services and markets, inadequate security against natural disasters and the lack of participation in decision-making. Understandably, their immediate household food requirements take precedence over long-term requirements for sustainable land management and agriculture planning. Today, it is estimated that 500 of the 800 million people suffering from household food insecurity are rural people who live in environmentally sensitive areas of low roductivity. Their food security challenge is growing as the poverty gap widens, both within and between nations. As the gap in access to productive resources grows, the gap becomes a growing threat to household food security, environmental sustainability and international peace. This alarming gap is a dramatic indicator of the imbalances that contribute to a culture of exclusion that denies the poor access to opportunities for development. In 1960, the top 20% of the world's population had incomes 30 times the poorest 20%. Today, the gap is 60 times. In a world of plenty, this is morally unacceptable and environmentally unsustainable. Historically, rural peoples have been neglected. Their numbers are continuing to rise as they are joined by new groups being displaced from more fertile areas through a variety of processes including land degradation; expropriation; demographic pressures; privatization of common property land; and, the expansion of commercial agriculture with its reduced demand for labour due to mechanization. Marginal areas are rapidly becoming ghettos of poverty characterized by reduced soil fertility and the rapid erosion of the natural resource base. More and more rural people are being deprived of their main source of production and the basis of their family's livelihood.
In rural areas of most developing countries, land is not only the primary means for generating a livelihood, but also the vehicle to accumulate capital and transfer it between generations. The manner by which land is regulated, rights are assigned and conflicts are resolved affects: the ability of households to produce for their subsistence and to generate marketable surpluses; • the social and economic status of rural families including their collective identity; • the incentives for the rural poor to exert their own effort, to make investments and sustain the natural resource base; • the opportunity for the poor to access financial services; and, • the capacity of families to build reserves to protect their assets during periods of agricultural stress.
Clearly, the policy and regulatory frameworks governing land distribution and tenurial security have a critical bearing on the social fabric of societies and on overall economic development. From the standpoint of the poor, the past failures of trickle-down economics must give rise to bottom up participation. Empowering the poor means supporting them to achieve and secure resource rights and fostering their direct participation in the integrated planning and management of land, water and common property. In the Philippines, as of the 2000 census, the population was estimated at 76.5 million with 52% residing in rural areas. The incidence of poverty, especially in rural areas, remains widespread and serious. An estimated 4.5 million families (40%) or 27 million Filipinos still live below the poverty threshold, and about two-thirds are found in the rural areas. The agricultural sector in the Philippines remains important in the national economy. In 2000 it directly employed more or less half of the country’s total active labour force, while the countryside remained host to some 60 per cent of the Filipino population. However, agricultural development has been generally less than dynamic. Approximately one third of the country’s land area of 30 million hectares is agricultural lands, and ownership and/or control over such lands has been largely monopolized by landed classes. The Gini coefficient for land distribution was 0.64 in 1988, the year the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) began [Putzel, 1992: 30]. Historical evidence demonstrates abundantly that it is impossible to achieve poverty eradication without economic growth. However, the experience of many societies where assets are distributed in a highly unequal fashion is also that, while growth is a necessary condition for poverty reduction it is
not always a sufficient one. In societies like the Philippines, lack of access to productive assets appears to be a major reason for the fact that a large part of the rural poor are not able to take advantages that are increasingly becoming available through aggregate growth and modern technology. In many cases, this lack of assets is combined with a tradition of oppression, dependence and lack of independent thinking that makes it difficult to convert rural areas into dynamic centers of entrepreneurship, investment, and social transformation. Although it is highly criticized for its many loopholes, and there are group of people declaring that it is a failure, studies found that agrarian reform in the Philippines has contributed significantly to higher levels of welfare, education, rural productivity and investment, and ultimately a more democratic society. Research has shown that, aided by appropriate agricultural technologies, agrarian reform has significantly increased beneficiary income as well as efficiency of resource use. To the degree that it can be put in a context that builds beneficiary capacity and links them to markets, land reform could therefore provide a true win-win situation rather than a zero sum game that will always and necessarily have one winner and one loser. At the same time, there is a great variation in agrarian reform outcomes studies show that in some communities agrarian reform multiplied the income of beneficiaries while in others it led to relatively modest increases. More importantly, many of the land reform beneficiaries of the past remain below the poverty threshold, suggesting that land reform has not always accomplished its full potential or been implemented in the most costeffective manner. The Need for Participatory Research Research has an important function in agrarian reform implementation. First, more in-depth research is required to assess the costs and benefits of the program and to monitor the degree to which its implementation is actually consistent with expectations. Second, there is major scope for us to learn from the experience –both positive and negative- of other countries that have been or are currently implementing similar programs of agrarian reform and redefinition of property rights. Finally, the agrarian process provides a unique opportunity for participative and action oriented research that can provide the broader vision for the overall task of rural development. Compared to the wealth of experience (and data) available as well as the policy importance of the issue, agrarian reform in the Philippines has been “understudied”. For us, it is essential to assess what the program contains
and what has actually been achieved in terms of incomes, productivity, growth in investments, and social improvements in health and education. This serves as a basis for testing the causal relationship between agrarian reform and poverty reduction, and helps to isolate the actual impact of the program on poverty alleviation. It is also critical that an analysis is made of how the program generally affects rural markets and how it influences the evolution of social capital in rural areas. It will also be important to build upon strategic engagements between state institutions on the one hand, and autonomous social movements on the other. Participation as accountability is a central objective, and the sort of studies and researches that generate participation from stakeholders will be more effective. This also requires to democratized access to research and policy studies. One part of this is transparency of research results and open data access. Another one is to translate research results into the language of policy makers, NGOs, and civil society, thus ensuring broader state accountability to the broader interest groups. If we are serious about treating beneficiaries not only as objects but also as subject of our research, participatory approaches that give voice to them and enable them to define their broader vision will acquire increased importance.
II. Participatory Research
Traditionally, research work is so elitist and done solely by the researchers for their own purposes. The community is not actively involved especially in designing the projects. Often, when these projects run into problems—for example, the study takes a long time or costs too much money— community members, who frequently give their time and energy for no compensation, discover that they are left without information about the outcome of the research or any findings that can benefit the community. In traditional or elitist research the outsiders dominate. They determine the agenda, obtain and take possession of information, remove it, organize and analyze it, and plan and write papers and reports. Outsiders come to appropriate and own the information. They hunt, gather, amass, compile, and process, and produce outputs. The participatory orientation of participatory research has given new impetus to the development of methods. Some of the more gifted facilitators of participatory research have delighted in the lack of blueprint. Participation
then generates diversity; local people play a part in interpreting, applying, and, sometimes inventing methods themselves. Local people and outsiders alike are encouraged to improvise in a spirit of play. What is done is different each time, the outcome of a creative interaction. In participatory research outsiders encourage and allow local people to dominate, to determine much of the agenda, to gather, express and analyze information, and to plan. Outsiders are facilitators, learners and consultants. Their activities are to establish rapport, to convene and catalyze, to enquire, to help in the use of methods, and to encourage local people to choose and improvise methods for themselves. Outsiders watch, listen and learn. Metaphorically, and sometimes actually, they “hand over the stick” of authority. Local people then do many of the things outsiders formerly did (and believed, often enough, that only they could do). Local people make maps and models; they walk transects and observe; they investigate and interview; they diagram and analyze; they present information; they plan. In consequence, they are more in command of the investigation, they own and retain more of the information, and they are strongly placed to identify their priorities for action, and then to determine and control that action. A. Origins Participatory research (PR) has many of its roots in social psychology. Originally called the participatory action research, PR builds on the Action research and Group Dynamics models developed by psychologist Kurt Lewin in the early-to-mid 1900s, as well as on the study of oral culture by such scholars as Milman Parry and Walter J. Ong. At its core, PR revolves around three sets of relationships: relations between individuals within communities and groups, relations between those groups and communities, and relations between people and their physical environment. Management of group dynamics in its many aspects thus plays a central role in PR processes, and PR practitioners/facilitators must have a strong foundation in this field. PR builds on the critical pedagogy put forward by Paulo Freire as a response to the traditional formal models of education where the “teacher” stands at the front and “imparts” information to the “students” that are passive recipients. This was further developed in "adult education" models throughout Latin America. Friere (1990) wrote,
"The silenced are not just incidental to the curiosity of the researcher but are the masters of inquiry into the underlying causes of the events in their world.
In this context research becomes a means of moving them beyond silence into a quest to proclaim the world.”
Based on the work of Freire, it was Colombian sociologist Orlando Fals-Borda who gave PR its worldwide recognition by organizing the first PR conferences in Cartagena, Colombia. Based on his research with peasant groups in rural Boyaca and with other underserved groups, Fals-Borda was able to effectively incorporate the "Community Action" component into the research plans of many traditionally trained researchers. It was not until then that communities started to fully appreciate the benefits of this approach which had initially seemed too abstract for many. Antonio Gramsci is less known for, yet very important in contrtibuting to PR. Gramsci, writing in early 20th century Italy, argued that all people are intellectuals and philosophers. "Organic intellectuals" is how he terms people who take their local knowledge from life experiences, and use that knowledge to address changes and problems in society. The idea that PR researchers are really co-learners and researchers with the people they meet in the research process promotes the validity that all people are intellectuals who develop intricate philosophies through lived experience. PR also has its roots in phenomenology and postmodernism. These movements validated experience as a valid way of knowing, very much the foundation of the “action-reflection” model of Experiential learning and the PR process. PR is part of an important shift in paradigm from the traditional, positivist, science paradigm which arose to bring certainty and verifiability to research questions, to post positivism which recognizes and tries to address complex human and social problems. B. Definition Participatory research has three key elements: people, power and praxis (Finn, 1994). It is people-centered (Brown, 1985) in the sense that the process of critical inquiry is informed by and responds to the experiences and needs of people involved. Participatory research is about power. Power is crucial to the construction of reality, language, meanings and rituals of truth; power functions in all knowledge and in every definition. Power is knowledge and knowledge creates truth and therefore power (Foucault, 1980). Participatory research is also about praxis. It recognizes the inseparability of theory and practice and critical awareness of the personal political dialectic.
Participatory research makes a participatory approach to learning as a central part of a research process. Research is not done just to generate facts, but to develop understanding of oneself and one's context. It is about understanding how to learn, which allows people to become self sufficient learners and evaluate knowledge that others generate. Good participatory research helps develop relationships of solidarity by bringing people together to collectively research, study, learn, and then act. There is no off-the-shelf formula, step-by-step method, or 'correct" way to do participatory research. Rather, participatory methodology is best described as a set of principles and a process of engagement in the inquiry. Conceptualizing the Research Process Participatory research stresses the importance of creating a participatory and democratic learning environment that provides people (especially the underprivileged) the opportunity to overcome what Freire has called the "habit of submission"—the frame of mind that curtails people from fully and critically engaging with their world and participating in civic life (Freire, 1978). It is only through participation in learning environments in which open, critical and democratic dialogue is fostered, Freire suggests, that people develop greater self-confidence along with greater knowledge. Participatory research challenges practices that separate the researcher from the researched and promotes the forging of a partnership between researchers and the people under study. Both researcher and participant are actors in the investigative process, influencing the flow, interpreting the content, and sharing options for action. Ideally, this collaborative process is empowering because it: brings isolated people together around common problems and needs validates their experiences as the foundation for understanding and critical reflection • presents the knowledge and experiences of the researchers as additional information upon which to critically reflect • contextualizes what have previously felt like "personal," individual problems or weakness • links such personal experiences to political realities
The result of this kind of activity is living knowledge that may get translated into action. Characteristics of Participatory Research
Participatory Research must be sharply distinguished from conventional Elitist Research which treats people as objects of the research process. In Elitist Research the fundamental underlying assumption is that people are incapable of doing research - it is a monopoly of the elite who know scientific methodologies. People who have been researched are in general not the beneficiaries of this process. The knowledge is not returned to the people. In sharp contrast to elitist research the key features of participatory research are: people are the subjects of research: the dichotomy between subject and object is broken • people themselves collect the data, and then process and analyse the information using methods easily understood by them • the knowledge generated is used to promote actions for change or to improve existing local actions • the knowledge belongs to the people and they are the primary beneficiaries of the knowledge creation • research and action are inseparable – they represent a unity • research is a praxis rhythm of action-reflection where knowledge creation supports action • people function as organic intellectuals • there is a built-in mechanism to ensure authenticity and genuineness of the information that is generated because people themselves use the information for life improvement.
Such participatory research may not get written up. Oral and visual methods characterise this process of knowledge creation. If people can be stimulated to write them up in their own idiom then such research could be an important source of a people’s literature, and reading materials for a wider public. Some of the material could be translated into pictures, cartoons, graphics, posters and slogans which may be a more effective method of communication. Such documentation may be carried out by community activists who are well placed to articulate the community’s way of thinking. The role of the outside professional The role of the outside professional is to promote the above processes. This can be done by:
assisting people to collect data and then to process and analyze the information using simple methods which enables them to systematize their knowledge • linking the local situation (which the people know best) to the larger external situation (about which the outside may know more) • improving people’s access to new information and formal knowledge (e.g. technology) • introducing local people to experiences from outside their environment • throwing up relevant issues or problems for local people to reflect on and analyze, and then assisting them in coming to their own conclusions.
The important thing is that the interaction between local people and the outside professional must primarily benefit the people concerned by enabling them to articulate and systematize their own thought processes and thereby enhancing their knowledge base so that they can pursue independent actions. Reaching a wider audience Along with the above contributions, outside professionals could document the experiences of people’s processes to cater for two audiences:
development workers who wish to promote participatory processes policy makers and intellectuals who wish to create wider support and facilitating structures for people-centered development
C. Methodology Participatory research methods can be conveniently classified into four main types, each with a distinctive style and ethos.
• • • •
Participant Observer Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA) Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) Participatory Action Research (PAR)
1. Participant observation and individual interviews The "participant observer" field technique is well established in anthropology and has been adopted by other disciplines. The method derives from the insight that you derive from a community's values, dynamics, internal relationships, structures and conflicts best from their observed actions, rather than from their (normative) statements of what "is". The participant
observer attempts immersion, to the extent permitted, in local life in order to understand and document how things work.
2. Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA) Rapid Rural Appraisal consists of a series of techniques for "quick and dirty" research that are claimed to generate results of less apparent precision, but greater evidential value, than classic quantitative survey techniques. The method does not need to be exclusively rural nor rapid, but it is economical of the researcher's time. It is essentially extractive as a process: the agenda is still that of the outside researcher. RRA (and analogs) emerged in the 1970s as a more efficient and costeffective way of learning by outsiders, particularly about agricultural systems, than was possible by large-scale social surveys or brief rural visits by urban professionals. It drew on many of the insights of field social anthropology of the 1930s-1950s, emphasized the importance and relevance of situational local knowledge, and the importance of getting the big things broadly right rather than achieving spurious statistical accuracy. It developed a style of listening research, and a creative combination of interactive methods and verification, including "triangulation" of data from different sources - using two different methods to view the same information. It was usually conducted by a multi-disciplinary team, and its chief techniques included: Review of secondary sources, including aerial photos, even brief aerial observation • Direct observation, foot transects, familiarization, participation in activities • Interviews with key informants, group interviews, workshops • Mapping, diagramming • Biographies, local histories, case studies • Ranking and scoring • Time lines • Short simple questionnaires, towards end of process • Rapid report writing in the field.
3. Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) More an eclectic situational style (the humble, learning outsider) than a method, the Participatory Rural Appraisal is distinguished at its best by the
use of local graphic representations created by the community that legitimize local knowledge and promote empowerment. Emerging in the 1980s, PRA "proper" builds on RRA but goes much further. To RRA it adds some more radical activist perspectives, deriving principally from South Asia. Its five central additional concepts are:
Empowerment. Knowledge is power. Knowledge arises from the process and results of the research that, through participation, come to be shared with and owned by local people. Thus the professional monopoly of information, used for planning and management decisions, is broken. New local confidence is generated, or reinforced, regarding the validity of their knowledge. "External" knowledge can be locally assimilated. Respect. The PRA process transforms the researchers into learners and listeners, respecting local intellectual and analytical capabilities. Researchers have to learn a new "style". Researchers must avoid at all costs an attitude of patronizing surprise that local people are so clever they can make their own bar charts etc. The "ooh-aah" school of PRA works against its own principles of empowerment and indicates shallow naivete on the part of the researcher. A good rule of thumb is that when you can really understand the local jokes, poetry and songs, then you may feel you are starting to understand the people's culture. Localization. The extensive and creative use of local materials and representations encourages visual sharing and avoids imposing external representational conventions. Enjoyment. PRA, well done, is, and should be, fun. The emphasis is no longer on "rapid" but on the process. Inclusiveness. Enhanced sensitivity, through attention to process; include marginal and vulnerable groups, women, children, aged, and destitute.
4. Participatory Action Research (PAR) Participatory Action Research (PAR) is a more activist approach, working to empower the local community, or its representatives, to manipulate the higher level power structures. Claimed for a variety of interventions, PAR can empower a community, entrench a local elite, right a wrong or totally mess things up. It depends on the extent of awareness and political savoir faire of the supporting outside organization.
PAR, which owes more to a radical activist tradition from the work of Paulo Freire and others in Latin America, derives some of its rationale from an awareness that PRA, for all its emphasis on participation, capability building, ownership of knowledge and empowerment, is still fundamentally an extractive and intellectual exercise. The benefits PRA brings to local communities can be intangible and even disappointing. PAR, by contrast, works directly with local political/development capacities to bring real, visible organizational structures, effective local advocacy, and a durable change in power relations with the center. If it can avoid the danger of entrenching a self-interested local elite, and address honestly the long-term choices that must be made on resource utilization, it perhaps has the most potential of all the methods described to secure the resources for sustainable livelihoods. Dialogue and Critical Reflection A key methodological feature that distinguishes participatory research from other social research is dialogue. Through dialogue, people come together and participate in all crucial aspects of investigation, education and collective action. It is through talking to one another and doing things together that people get connected, and this connectedness leads to shared meaning. Dialogue encourages people to voice their perspectives and experiences, helping them to look at the "whys" of their lives, inviting them to critically examine the sources and implications of their own knowledge. In this context, dialogue allows to awaken participants' voices and cultivates their participation as critical, active agents of change. This is particularly essential in the light of many social forces of domination at work in the lives of people from socially and culturally disenfranchised groups. The role of the researcher in this process is a facilitator of the learning process. The researcher is not an expert who is assumed to have all the knowledge and gives it to the people who are assumed not to have any knowledge. Rather, it is a facilitator who sets up situations that allow people to discover for themselves what they already know along with gaining for themselves new knowledge. In this process, the researcher not only learns from the participants, but also engages in dialogue by posing questions: What are the conditions of participants' lives? What are the determining features of the social structure and social relations that contribute to creating their life patterns? • What choices do they make, and why do they believe those are good things to do? • What are the possibilities for their experience and action?
The researcher's sharing of his or her perceptions, questions in response to the dialogue, and different theories and data invite the participants to critically reflect upon their own experiences and personal theories from a broader context. Ideally, in such a setting, the expert knowledge of the researcher combined with the experiential knowledge of community members, create an entirely new ways of thinking about issues. This is the meaning of conscientization, which Paulo Freire has helped popularize. Critical consciousness is raised not by analyzing the problematic situation alone, but by engaging in action in order to transform the situation. Dialogue acts as a means for fostering critical consciousness about social reality, an understanding based on knowledge of how people and issues are historically and politically situated. Participatory Communication and Research Methods Communication is a key methodological concern in participatory research. It draws upon creative combinations of written, oral and visual communication in the design, implementation and documentation of research. Grassroots community workers, village women, and consciousness raising groups have used photo novella (people's photographic documentation of their everyday lives) to record and to reflect their needs, promote dialogue, encourage action, and inform policy. Researchers use theater and visual imagery to facilitate collective learning, expression, and action. Other forms of popular communication are utilized such as collectively written songs, cartoons, community meetings, community self-portraits and videotape recordings. Critical knowledge development calls for a creative blend of traditional methods of inquiry and new approaches. Use of alternative communication methods in participatory research has both pushed researchers to reexamine conventional methods and opened up the possibility of using methods that previously would not have been considered legitimate.
III. Farmer Participatory Research
Farmers have always developed and/or adapted innovations and new innovations need to be rooted in farmers’ natural, social and cultural reality in order to be useful. If research, advisory services and other organizations are to make a useful contribution to this innovation process, they need to relate much better to farmers’ reality than they have in the past. This requires some fundamental changes in the way these organizations and their staff understand their roles and responsibilities, and implies a whole range of
conceptual consequences, structural adjustments and organizational changes. To really do research with farmers, it is not enough to learn and apply a few "participatory methods" in the field or to ask farmers for their opinions about a new technology. Unfortunately, most research organizations have been slow to tackle the more fundamental challenges like changing their concepts of what constitutes valid knowledge and how fruitful interaction between local and scientific knowledge systems can be framed. Origins of Farmer Participatory Research Farmer participatory research emerged as a response to the generation of inappropriate technologies by scientists at research stations whose work was based on the transfer-of technology model. Those working in this field began to develop a series of new research approaches that would result in technologies that would be beneficial to, and therefore adopted by, small farmers. The transfer-of-technology model was predominant in the 1950s and 1960s. The fact that farmers did not adopt the technology packages developed at research stations led researchers to conclude that farmers were backward or ignorant, and that the key to success lay in creating a better extension service. Thus, the Training and Visit System (T&V) of Agricultural Extension was widely implemented. In the 1970s and early 1980s, non-adoption, still a problem, was attributed to constraints occurring at the farm level. Farming Systems Research arose as a response, emphasizing research at the farm level to diminish constraints to the adoption of new technologies. Finally, in the 1990s, some researchers came to believe that the problem was not the farmers, but the inappropriate technologies they were being encouraged to adopt. This marked the emergence and gradual evolution of farmer participatory research, an approach aimed at creating appropriate technology for small farmers (Chambers et al., 1989). The Emergence of Farmer Participatory Research For technical, environmental, political, social and economic reasons, the agricultural sciences have had little to offer small, resource-poor farmers. Farmer participatory research has emerged in response to this situation as a viable solution to the problem of developing appropriate technology. Farmer participatory researchers view the lack of interaction between researchers and farmers as one of the principal weaknesses in the methods
earlier developed. To correct this deficiency, proponents of this approach propose to work in collaboration with farmers to identify their most urgent agricultural problems and to develop appropriate technologies at the farm level. As a result, researchers learn about an array of interrelated matters at the farm level that need to be considered in the development or adaptation of technologies. This process involves tapping into the farmers' own agricultural knowledge. In the process, researchers come to appreciate and respect small farmers. The challenge for development workers, researchers, and farmers is to design and use research methodologies that ensure the development and adoption of improved agricultural technologies to create sustainable agricultural production that will benefit the resource-poor farmer. Main Components and Characteristics of Farmer Participatory Research 1. The main goal of farmer participatory research is to develop appropriate agricultural technology to meet the production needs of the small, resource-poor farmers. It is the reverse of the transfer of technology paradigm. It involves small, resource-poor farmers to generate or adapt appropriate technology on-farm. • It includes farmers in the decision-making process. It wants to find out which aspect of an agriculture practice or technology the farmer would like to work on to improve.
2. Farmers participate actively in the entire farmer participatory research process.
Farmers become the researchers, experimenters and evaluators in this process. They actively participate in the identification of problems, needs, opportunities and priorities, in the design and implementation of experiments, and in the evaluation of results to ensure that the research will focus on their needs. Indigenous knowledge and the capacity for experimentation facilitate the generation of technology. Farmers' knowledge of their own farming systems, including climate and soils, and the social, institutional and economic environment, is vital to the development of appropriate technologies. Both farmers' and researchers' knowledge are crucial in coming up with technologies that fit local environment and circumstances.
The criterion of excellence is not the rigor of an on-station or in-laboratory research, or yields in research station or resource-rich farmer conditions, but the more rigorous test of whether new practices spread among the resourcepoor. Chambers and Ghildyal, 1985 3. Research is conducted in farmers' fields.
The research is conducted on-farm as this is where production occurs and farmers make their major production decisions. Technologies developed in real conditions reflect the objectives and criteria of farmers based on their access to resources and inputs, agronomic constraints, marketing possibilities and so on. Appropriate technology is more likely to be developed. Since farmer participatory research is location-specific, research must be conducted on farms representative of those in other areas so the technology developed can be more broadly disseminated.
4. The scientist is an investigator, colleague and advisor.
Scientists learn and work with farmers, facilitating and providing support. Together they set the research agenda, and experiment with and evaluate technologies. The scientist is a colleague and advisor who brings new ideas and/or unknown technologies to the community. He or she can also facilitate analysis of the farming system to identify potential areas for improvement and support the informal agricultural research of farmers.
5. Farmer participatory research is based on a systems perspective.
A farm is a system composed of interacting subsystems that include land, labor, capital, crop and animal production, off-farm income, social and economic components, physical and biological components, etc. Farmer participatory researchers emphasize the importance of understanding the entire system. The research effort focuses on solving an agricultural technology problem in order to benefit the farm as a whole. Farmer participatory research promotes gradual, adaptive changes in the farming system rather than the abrupt transformation of the system.
The complexity of farms as systems is due to:
direct physical interactions between production activities generated by intercropping and crop rotation practices competition and complementary in resource use between different production activities the multiple objective function of the farm household
These interactions, from both biological and socio-economic sources, underlie the need for a farming systems perspective and a multi-disciplinary approach in research on improved technology. (Byerlee et al., 1982) 6. Farmer participatory research requires interdisciplinary collaboration between researchers and farmers.
Interdisciplinary analysis of the farming system is imperative for successful farmer participatory research. This involves collaboration between farmers and agricultural and social scientists. The research agenda must be established and the entire process focused on farmers' real needs. Dialogue between scientists and farmers is essential. Interaction between farmers and scientists can be contractual, consultative, collaborative or collegial. Ideally, this is a relationship between legitimate colleagues and partners working as equals. Direct interaction between researchers and farmers increases the researchers' understanding of the farmers' decision-making criteria and of the conditions in which they work. Researchers have to make sure that solutions emerge from a holistic analysis by farmers and researchers together.
7. Farmer participatory research promotes innovative methodologies and flexibility.
Proponents of farmer participatory research encourage the use of different innovative methods. Creative methodologies are necessary in developing appropriate technologies for resource-poor farmers working under very different conditions. Participatory research promotes low cost technologies and a minimum of external inputs by using locally-available resources and strengthening
the farmer's experimental capacity. These features aim at sustainable and environmentally-sound development.
Because this approach is broad, flexible and adaptive, scientists and farmers must be in continuous contact to agree on research procedures, monitor trials and respond to unexpected changes along the way. Because initial assumptions, hypotheses, needs and local conditions may change over time, flexibility facilitates adaptation to new circumstances.
Underlying Assumptions of Farmer Participatory Research
One of the principal tenets underlying farmer participatory research is that farmers act rationally in using resources available to achieve their production needs. Farmers manage a complex set of biological processes which transform these resources into useful products, either for home consumption or for sale. Decisions about crop and livestock production, and the methods and timing of cultivation, husbandry and harvesting are determined not only by physical and biological constraints but also by economic, socio-political, infrastructural and policy factors that make up the larger milieu within which farmers operate. In undertaking a farmer participatory research project, researchers assume that farmers: possess indigenous knowledge of their farming systems and their environment and have a capacity for experimentation that must be used and strengthened for technology development. Farmers' Indigenous Knowledge Systems Indigenous knowledge systems consist of the "theories, beliefs, practices, and technologies that all peoples in all times and places have elaborated without direct inputs from the modern, formal, scientific establishment" (McCorkle, 1989). Indigenous knowledge has been regarded as "backward and irrational" by researchers who rely on science-based knowledge. However, the fact that scientists are unaware of the scientific value, principle, or explanation for a practice does not mean the said practices or knowledge do not work well for farmers nor that they lack a scientific basis. It just might be that no one has conducted a research on traditional farming practices. According to Howes and Chambers (1979), this is due, at least in part, to the dependence of officials and experts on scientific knowledge to legitimize
their superior status, and in the process, pull down indigenous technical knowledge. Scientists often do not allow farmers to participate in the generation of new technical knowledge and agricultural practices. Thus, the task of scientists involved in farmer participatory research is to engage farmers in research so that the latter will gain confidence and knowledge. Indigenous knowledge systems are concrete, practical, utilitarian, broad, detailed, comprehensive, and usually sustainable. They are based on empirical observation, trial and error, and controlled experimentation over centuries. Years of experience have led to the development of sustainable farming practices involving a minimum of risk. Indigenous knowledge systems do not focus exclusively on farming practices. In addition to agricultural knowledge, the adaptations farmers have evolved lead to knowledge about health, education, housing, community organization, management of local resources, etc. Farmers' Capacity for Experimentation
Farmers' capacity for research and experimentation is generally not acknowledged by agricultural researchers and society at large. However, with the growing recognition of the value and usefulness of indigenous knowledge systems, scientists are increasingly aware of farmers' capacity for experimentation resulting in the evolution and adaptation of indigenous knowledge systems to production needs. For 10,000 years, farmers have been experimenting to develop their farming systems which has had an evolutionary impact on plants, animals and the land. Aside from experiments to increase production, they also looked into processing and storage as well. Here, the farmer is "an active actor in the process: selecting, consciously observing, and manipulating and experimenting with plants, animals, tools, and the environment to improve production output" (Rhoades, 1987). Farmers experiment in order to adjust to changing circumstances. This experimentation has led to the development of productive and sustainable farming systems well suited to their needs, environment, and resources. Examples: domestication of wild species; and selection/breeding for desirable qualities of a species. Major breakthroughs in technology generated by scientists in experimental stations have been based on experiments conducted by farmers. Examples: invention of diffuse light storage in Peru; introduction of paddy rice production in the Amazon basin; rice production in Bangladesh and wheat in Mexico; and farmers' successful
adaptations of high-yield varieties of wheat in India and Bangladesh in the 1960s and 1970s.
The emphasis on improving farmers' inherent capacity for experimentation is an important element in the sustainability of agricultural development programs. When an organization withdraws from a region, farmers continue to conduct experiments and share information with members of farmers' groups and organizations. Rural communities throughout the world are more than just "passive recipients of technology that is transferred to them from Western countries or formal research and development programs" as shown by the examples given. The three interrelated types of information generated by farmers' informal research are: technical and organizational innovations that use scarce resources efficiently; signposts for new research that scientists in formal research and development systems might start to work on; and methods for conducting cost-effective research and classifying knowledge, with the farmer as principal researcher.
Other Benefits Resulting from Participation by Farmers in the Process of Technology Development
improved understanding by scientists of the needs of small farmers, leading to better identification of problems appropriate for adaptive, onfarm research improved feedback on farmers' needs and objectives to guide applied research in research stations accelerated transfer and adoption of improved technology by small farmers efficient, cost-effective use of scarce resources in on-farm research through better linkages among farmers, researchers and extensionists development of organizational models, professional skills and values appropriate for demand-driven, problem-oriented technology design
Main Types of Farmer Participatory Research Research conducted on farms can be classified according to the level of control and management exercised by farmers and researchers. This classification includes four categories (Figure 1).
• • • •
researcher-managed on-farm trials consultative researcher-managed on-farm trials collaborative farmer-researcher participatory research farmer managed participatory research
The first two types are not examples of farmer participatory research, but simply conventional on-farm research. The last two types are forms of farmer participatory research and, as such, reflect the characteristics and are based on the assumptions presented earlier in this paper. Between these poles, there exists a range of possibilities, combining farmer and researcher participating in the control and management of the research process. The four approaches are presented below to differentiate non-participatory onfarm trials (1 and 2) from genuine farmer participatory research (3 and 4). 1. Researcher-Managed On-Farm Trials Researchers work in farmers' fields to develop technology for farmers or to test and validate research findings obtained in the research station. They generally design, implement and evaluate the technology in the farmers' fields, or they define the research agenda and design trials which farmers are allowed to implement under their supervision. The experimental designs used in this approach are similar to those used in research stations. The relationship between the researcher and farmer is hierarchical. Researchers are the main decision-makers, setting the research agenda and designing and implementing trials. Researchers identify the problem upon which research is based. Participation by farmers in conventional on-farm trials is minimal. Occasionally, scientists may also allow farmers to comment on the outcomes of experiments. The farmers often rent their land to researchers conducting experiments, or are paid for their labor. But farmers do not define the research agenda or participate in decision-making. Because scientists bring technology from the experimental station to the farm for testing and validation, farmers are not involved in technology generation. Ultimately, they become the passive recipients of researchers' recommendations. 2. Consultative Researcher-Managed On-Farm Trials Farmers are consulted by researchers about their needs, problems, goals and preferences. They are also asked about their agricultural practices and knowledge of the local environment, resource availability, and so on. Researchers may also ask farmers for feedback on their perceptions of the new technology under study.
Although farmers may be consulted at the beginning of the research process, such consultation is aimed primarily at assisting researchers in interpreting farmers' circumstances, problems, or needs, and to arrive at experimental designs for trials which often will not include farmer participation in the initial stages of on-farm testing (Ashby, 1987). Technologies are developed for farmers based on the researchers' understanding of their farming systems. Some researchers may allow farmers limited participation in the testing, validation and evaluation of the new technology developed at the experimental station. Experiments are conducted to answer the researcher's scientific concerns as related to farm-level conditions. Trials are designed to acquire accurate information about the response of technologies in the farmer's fields, but do not incorporate the farmer's criteria on testing or evaluation. This type of on-farm trial is the last step of research conducted at the experimental station. Compared to the conventional on-farm trial conducted solely by scientists, this approach involves more interaction between researchers and farmers. However, researchers continue to control the research process and develop technology. The farmer's minimal involvement does not include decisions regarding the research agenda, trial implementation, or evaluation criteria. Because of this, the research is consistent with the transfer-of-technology model, and therefore likely to result in agricultural practices and technologies that fail to meet farmers' needs. 3. Collaborative Farmer-Researcher Participatory Research Farmers and researchers work together in this approach on problem definition, design, management and implementation of trials, and evaluation. In the early phases of the process, scientists and farmers discuss potential areas for collaborative research and choose decision-making and evaluation criteria. By combining informal research by farmers with formal on-farm testing procedures, indigenous knowledge and science-based knowledge are mixed to meet farmers' needs. Ideally, a collaborative relationship means balanced participation in and control over the research process in order to achieve the objectives of both farmers and scientists. 4. Farmer-Managed Participatory Research Farmers are the main actors and decision-makers in this approach, developing technology through a process that includes problem definition,
trial design, the implementation of experiments, and the evaluation of results. In the diagnostic phase, farmers identify the problems and needs they want to address. In the planning and design phase, they choose the most important problem, identify potential solutions, design prototype technology, and decide how to test it. In the experimentation phase, they test and evaluate the technology. Finally, in the adaptation and validation phase, farmers further tests the technology developed prior to dissemination (Ashby, 1991). The experimental capacity and indigenous knowledge of farmers are used to the maximum in this approach. The scientist's role is to assure that the community's local experimental capacity is fully utilized and to link farmers to information and resources for which the community has expressed a need but which are unavailable at the local level. Conclusion Experimentation by farmers cannot entirely replace conventional scientific research and conventional scientific research cannot replace farmers' onfarm research. There is a need for an approach that favors a "symbiotic relationship" between the two. The result is the incorporation of the most important and valuable aspects of each into a new system which will both benefit the small resource-poor farmer and contribute to the scientific knowledge base.
IV. Participatory Research in Agrarian Reform and Rural Development Experience in South Africa
Land and agrarian policy formulation in South Africa today is taking place in top-down fashion, without any serious attempt being made to involve rural people in the process. As the country enters a transition to democracy, various conceptions and practices of development are being debated. While the 'lessons from elsewhere' are being paraded through conference centres throughout the country, little attention has been given to a critique of traditional developmentalism which has perpetuated inequality through its emphasis on market-oriented, technology based, resource intensive and undemocratic development strategies (Harris et al, 1994). Nowhere is this more evident than on the terrain of land and agrarian reform, where groups of foreign and local experts periodically gather to determine the fate of
apartheid's greatest victims. Bold national land reform and rural restructuring programmes are being carved out with scant attention being paid to local detail and regional variation while the crucial question of articulation of scale between local, regional and national policy concerns is largely overlooked. This, paper argues for the development of democratic participatory policy formulation processes, which are rooted in localities and cognizant of the links between local, regional and national level problems. It proceeds on the assumption that land and agrarian reform are of central importance in the creation of a new democratic order in South Africa, given the historical legacy of forced removals and the central role which land dispossession has played in the evolution of colonialism and apartheid in South Africa. The paper reviews participatory land reform research undertaken in four villages of the Eastern Transvaal Central Lowveld in the Kangwane, Lebowa and Gazankulu Bantustans. In so doing, it distinguishes between the language of participation as legitimation and popular participation which entails involving people within localities in defining and prioritizing the needs of social transformation. It is argued that this latter methodology can enhance the involvement of rural people in policy formulation and knowledge production processes. Specific policy proposals emerging from this exercise are critically examined and contrasted with the policy priorities of some of the major players. It is also argued that in order for participatory processes to succeed, they will need to be actively fostered by organs of civil society, including political parties. Participatory Research in the Eastern Transvaal Central Lowveld Participatory research undertaken with these considerations in mind, involved people within four villages of the Eastern Transvaal in an ongoing process of discussion and dialogue around questions of land reform and research findings . Progress reports became a central element in this process, and workshops evolved as the ideal format through which land reform policies could be discussed and debated. This interactive approach was coupled with a genuine attempt on the part of the researchers to immerse themselves in the social life of the villages being researched. At the same time, an effort was made to establish a committed working relationship with the rural people under investigation, based on a mutual commitment to progressive rural restructuring and land reform. The research team thus facilitated involvement by village groups from the Eastern Transvaal in the National Land Committee's Community Land Conference held in Bloemfontein on 12-13 February 1994. Burkey has
commented on the importance of relationships between researchers and researched in the attempt to develop genuine participatory methods:
“The relationship between the investigator and the groups being investigated is a fundamental aspect of participatory research methods. Not only is it necessary for the people themselves to participate in the analysis of their own reality, but the investigator must share this reality in order to understand it. It is not possible to get a correct understanding of social realities bv coming into an area, collecting answers to predetermined questions and then retiring to statistically analyse the data (1993-61).”
Accordingly, the different elements of the research, the socio-economic survey, mapping, intensive interviewing and social histories were discussed in four workshops held in each of the research site over a one-year period. Initial meetings were held with interested residents in each village in December 1992, were a report-back was given on the pilot survey conducted in July 1992. It was then proposed that a first workshop be held in January 1993, at which a report-back would be given to a wider audience on the objectives and progress of the research to date. This was done in each village, and at these meetings, committees were elected to liaise with the research teams. The hope was that these committees would become the focus of the local land issues. At the first workshop, a variety of questions were posed. One set of questions focused around issues of which land should be made available, how it should be obtained, and how it should be allocated. These questions generated discussion on issues of compensation and the importance of land reform in the Bantustans. Another set of questions focused on agriculture and agricultural systems, while another centred on the problem of skills and resources. The final set of questions concentrated on development and local understanding of the issue. The second set of workshops, in July 1993, were held with elected land committees, and reported back on opinions expressed in the first workshops. These meetings also involved the discussion of 1:50,000 maps, where local knowledge on soil quality, land use and forced removal was generated. A third set of larger workshops were held soon after the meetings with the village committees, where report-backs were made and villagers were introduced to local village maps drawn up from aerial photographs as a mechanism for generating discussion around land reform in the Bantustans. These workshops were invaluable in terms of unearthing indigenous knowledge of local historical geographies, and important information was generated in them on important research themes including forced removal and the chieftaincy. They also began to reveal the high expectations being generated by the presence of the research team, and in cases, some impatience with the fact that little concrete progress or development had been experienced since the arrival of the research project team in the area.
It became increasingly important to stress that this was essentially a research project, and that the aim of the participatory interactive approach, was to involve local people in the policy-making process, and to engage people in the drafting of local policy documents which could be used as mobilizing tools and become the first step in a development planning exercise. In order for the final workshop to lead to the production of practical policy documents, information gathered through the workshops and other relevant research data, was drawn together under Five key questions or themes: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Where to get land; How to get land; How to allocate and use land; What production systems to develop on the land: Who should benefit from land reform?
This information was compiled into draft policy documents which were discussed and amended in the final village workshops held in January 1994. Two delegates were then elected in each village to attend the final CPLAR workshop in Johannesburg in March 1994. Participatory Policy Formulation and National Policy Agendas The project's final workshop was attended by over 60 people, including the elected village delegates, the project team, local and international academics. South African NGO activists and political leaders directly involved in land and agrarian reform policy formulation. The primary aim of the workshop was to present and discuss initial findings, and to continue the participatory process of involving rural people directly in the policy formulation process. The workshop demonstrated the necessity and value of localized participatory research and policy formulation. The village delegates participated actively and debated with academics, and their policy documents made a major impact on workshop deliberations. The documents describe widespread land hunger, and articulate very specific demands. These include: 1. Access to high quality arable land to produce more food to guarantee greater household food security; 2. Special attention being given to the poor and women as potential land recipients;
3. The rejection of market mechanisms as the major components of land transfer; 4. The restriction of the powers of the chieftaincy in the land allocation process while giving new government structures and democratically elected local committees the power to allocate land; 5. The rejection of existing institutions, including the DBSA and its implementing agencies, Kangwane Agriwane), Gazankulu (the Gazankulu Development Corporation) and Lebowa (the Lebowa Agricultural Corporation). The policy documents also identify some specific areas where they believe land reform should take place. These are primarily in areas where forced removals have taken place, and include land now under afforestation, largescale fruit plantations, underutilized and state land near Hazyview and specific areas in the Kruger Park, including along the Sabie River. These local demands and views contradict many policy ideas currently being debated at the national level. This may to some extent reflect the different understandings held by local people and policy makers of what land reform is all about. Local people view land reform in the context of the struggle for improved conditions of social reproduction, justice and survival. Policy makers on the other hand, also often view land reform in the context of justice, but this is tempered by questions of economic efficiency. The view articulated in the village policy documents on land for food security, is rejected by many policy-makers and indeed contradicts to some extent, the ANC's Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP). The expressed position by villagers, is that not all people want land in order to become farmers; many want to continue pursuing multiple-income strategies in which land for producing the means of subsistence is a key component. The RDP in contrast argues that: "The most important step toward food security remains the provision of productive employment opportunities through land reform, jobs programmes and the reorganization of the economy' (ANC, 1994:41-42).” This position partly reflects the relative lack of participation in the drafting of the RDP, in comparison with its predecessor, the ANC's Ready to Govern policy guidelines. This document was drafted in a national conference of elected delegates in May of 1992. The process was inclusive and participatory, involving intensive discussions at local branch level as well as regional conferences where elected delegates were mandated to attend the national conference with democratically derived positions.
What is striking about the RDP in contrast with the Ready to Govern document is the ascendance of the market as the major mechanism of land reform. This reflects to some extent the growing influence of World Bank thinking in land and agrarian policy formulation. The Ready to Govern document assigns a far greater role to the state in land acquisition. While this paper, and indeed the villagers themselves, do not reject a role for the market altogether, it must be recognized that the role of the market in land redistribution is a highly contested policy issue. In negotiating a new constitution for the country, a key decision revolved around whether to enshrine property rights in a new constitution. The major fear amongst those opposing such a measure, is that it would effectively protect existing property rights and therefore unjustly reproduce existing inequalities. These problems were recognized by none less than Judge Didcott who argued that 'what a bill of rights cannot afford to do, is to protect private property with such zeal that it entrenches privilege' (Chaskalson, 1993:1). Notwithstanding such concerns, the new constitution includes property in its Fundamental Rights chapter, and states that:
Where any rights in property are expropriated., .such expropriation shall be permissible for public purposes only and shall be subject to the payment of agreed compensation or, failing agreement, to the payment of such compensation and within such period as may be determined by a court of law as just and equitable, taking into account all relevant factors, including, in the case of the determination of compensation, the use to which the property is being put, the history of its acquisition, its market value, the value of investments in it by those affected and the interests of those affected (Republic of South Africa, 1994:16).
This effectively ensures that a land reform programme will be market driven, a factor to which most senior ANC officials privately concede. As noted above, the World Bank's RRP advocates land redistribution through the market, and has already estimated the sum of the costs this would entail. Nevertheless, on the ground, this strategy is widely rejected, particularly by the victims of forced removals. In a workshop held in Cork village, Gazankulu, for example, participants argued that:
because black people were not paid any compensation when they were forcefully removed from their land, white farmers should not be paid for land taken from them under a land reform programme.
Nevertheless, it was argued that an exception may be made with regard to the development costs incurred by occupants, although if the costs were recovered through profits, then there would be no need to compensate the present owner (9 January 1993). What is significant, however, is that
workshop participants also argued that white farmers should not be forced to leave their farms. Rather they should be encouraged to share the land and live together with black people and share the skills and knowledge of fanning with them. Land redistribution which relied exclusively on market mechanisms, remains a highly contentious issue, as reflected in a group interview with victims of forced removals in Marite. Lebowa. A question was posed around how people would feel if a land claims court could only deal swiftly and efficiently with claimants who held title deeds to land. One angry respondent retorted:
“We are prepared to use any means available to get our land back. That is why we should continue to struggle. Our fellow comrades have lost their lives for the struggle. We are fighting for our own liberation. It is very dangerous to talk of the title deeds only and ignore the rightful owners of the land. And if they do not give in to our demands, we will resort to the PAC's slogan, 'One settler, one bullet'. If necessary, whites should be driven back into the sea. They left their countries of origin to settle here. It is very important that the new government should deal with the issue of title deeds very carefully. How were they acquired and did the people get any compensation when they were removed from their farms. These are some of the questions that should be asked. All the people who were evicted should be given proper compensation. There is no way we can remain poor in our native land. For instance, let us say Mr Monareng has a pair of shoes, and at night I come and steal it. If me owner identifies his shoes even if there are slight changes made to them, do you expect him to pay for the changes that have been made? I do not think that is possible because I have acquired ownership through illegal means. We are not going to compensate them for stealing our land. Those documents in their possession do not mean anything to us. I can print my own documents and backdate them to 1901. We are not going to discuss the issue of title deeds based on documentation (Group interview, Marite, 20 January 1993).”
The question of the chieftaincy is another controversial issue. While ambiguities do exist in terms of rural people's attitude towards the chieftaincy as an institution, in the Eastern Transvaal Central Lowved, there is unequivocal opposition to the chieftaincy's continued control over land allocation. Survey results indicate that in the four villages investigated, a total of 85 per cent of villagers are opposed to the chief allocating land. The opposition to the chieftaincy emerges from corrupt practices and the use of extra economic coercion by chiefs through the extraction of labour and other forms of 'tribal levies'. Villagers have a clear alternative to the chieftaincy continuing to allocate land: democratic local committees. This emerged out of workshop discussions in all four villages. At Cork for instance, it was
argued that: For a long time, the chief has been allocating the land, but he has failed to meet people's needs. It was the chief who worked with the government to remove people. Despite locally-based opposition to the continued role of chiefs in land allocation and development issues, the new constitution allows for continuities in the role of chiefs on this terrain. Chapter 11 of the interim constitution states that: A traditional authority which observes a system of indigenous law and is recognized by law immediately before the commencement of this Constitution, shall continue as such an authority and continue to exercise and perform the powers and functions vested in it in accordance with the applicable laws and customs, subject to any amendment or repeal of such laws and customs by a competent authority (1994:116). While this does allow space for the erosion of the powers of the chieftaincy through amendment of laws by a 'competent authority', the special role accorded to chiefs is seen in a clause which provides for chiefs to become ex officio members of local government structures. Moreover, provisions have been made for the establishment of Provincial Houses of Traditional Leaders in 'each province where there are traditional authorities', as well as a national Council of Traditional Leaders. This council is empowered to: ...advise and make recommendations to the national government with regard to any matter pertaining to traditional authorities, indigenous law or the traditions and customs of traditional communities anywhere in the Republic or any matters having a bearing thereon.(1994:118) These powers set the stage for an ongoing struggle around the chieftaincy, and provide chiefs with powerful constitutional mechanisms to counter massbased initiatives against the institution. Chiefs have been able to successfully assert their role in the constitutional future of the country, partly as a consequence of ANC ambiguity on the chieftaincy. While the struggles of the 1980s under the UDF seriously eroded the powers of the chieftaincy in many localities, the ANC, in its efforts to stabilize politics in these areas, has chosen to be more pragmatic. The ANC's ambiguity is in sharp contrast with the position of the civics in the Eastern Transvaal who are generally in open conflict with the chief over spaces of organization and power. One Kangwane civic leader argued that the position of the ANC has prevented the chieftaincy from withering away: People accept the chiefs, but they are seen as largely irrelevant and not given much allegiance. This is because the people are now too developed to accept hereditary leadership. People also believe that the chief is a stumbling block to development, especially in the areas of rapid development and urbanization in the Nsikazi district.
There is a conflict between the civics and the ANC over the ANC's policy of protecting the chiefs, even though the institution is being eroded by the developing environment. If the ANC did not have this strategy, it is possible that the chieftaincy would have been eroded by now (Interview, Mahhushu, 12 December 1993). This view, common within civic leadership reflects the search for continuities in bottom-up processes of democratization experienced through the struggles of the late 1980s in the Eastern Transvaal (Levin and Solomon, 1994). This raises serious questions about the possible success of participatory processes of research and transformation. Participatory Research and Democratic Agrarian Transformation This paper has argued that genuine popular participation constitutes a threat to existing power relations. This view has been echoed by Oakley and Marsden (1984) who argue that:
“...meaningful participation is concerned with achieving power that is the power to influence the decisions that affect one's livelihood. We cannot conceal the fact that the practice of empowering challenges established interests and seeks to confront those forces which oppose the-rural poor's access to the means of development. Established bureaucracies do not charitably concede participation. This participation must result from the unrelenting processes from below. We conclude that the meaningful participation of the rural poor in development is concerned with direct access to the resources necessary for development and some active involvement and influence in the decisions affecting those resources. To participate meaningfully implies the ability positively to influence the course of events.” (Quoted in Burkey, 1993:59).
The success of popular participation is contingent upon levels of local organization. This is because the transformation which popular participation implies cannot be achieved through gestural commitment to notions of 'participation' and 'empowerment'. The potential for participatory policy formulation to deliver democratic policy implementation thus rests on the state of organization within a locality. The Bantustan villages of the Central Lowveld in the Eastern Transvaal are differentiated and fragmented along class, gender, ethnic, generational and lineage lines. These kinds of divisions impact directly on the potential for coherent organization, and have been manipulated by the state historically in order to demobilize Bantustan people. During the mid-late 1980s, the first step towards coherent organization, were undertaken under the influence of the United Democratic Front (UDF). For the first time, villagers in the area under investigation were
drawn into the broad framework of the national liberation movement. It is important not to romanticize UDF organisation and resistance, but general patterns, however tenuous and tentative, were established. What is important, is the changes which occurred in political organization with the unbanning of the ANC. The unbanning of the ANC had a profound impact on the political landscape in the Eastern Transvaal, and fundamentally transformed nascent forms of organization and resistance. While it boosted the confidence of rural villagers, it also recast emergent forms of organization from below into more centralized structures of organization from above. The result has been the development of a topdown style of politics which has led to the political demobilization of the people:
There had been a culture of local participation in development, but this ended once the UDF stopped organizing. Now, people wait for the ANC. It has taken the struggle away from grassroots initiatives. Concentrating on the transition is different to concentrating on local demands; as a result, people have become demobilized. Furthermore, ANC branches are not strong. There are no issues for people to organise on a local basis. The only issue is trying to ensure Mandela's victory in April, but that doesn't help at all with development. During the time of the UDF, people were organized on local political issues relating them to national ones and that is not happening any more. People are not encouraged to take up local issues (Interview, Mahhushu, 12 December 1993).
A further problem is manifest in the relationship between the ANC and the civics. The unbanning of the ANC allowed the organisation to move into the space created by UDF structures, elect a new leadership and begin to divide up spaces of organisation between itself and the civics. Higher up in the regional political hierarchy, a slightly different picture to the one presented above is painted of the impact of the unbanning, but one which nevertheless confirms the existence of a division of political space between the ANC and the civics. Nevertheless, there also appears to be a symbiotic relationship between the ANC and civic organisations. Sunday Maphanga, deputy regional secretary of the ANC YL and ANC land commission member remarked that:
“The unbanning of the ANC had an impact on a variety of other organisations. The unbanning strengthened the structures which are in alliance with the ANC and influenced the thinking of other structures...There was an even growth of civic associations. The major problem was the lack of a clear programme of action...There are conflicts of interest between the civics and the ANC when the civics take up political issues. Where both organisations are strong, joint programmes are undertaken. Where there is a
weak ANC structure, the civic will also be weak (Interview, Nelspruit, 8 December 1993).”
The civics have been cast in a developmental role, and they are seen as being politically neutral. This is despite the fact that 'there is a misconception that the civic is the ANC. The civic is not a political body, but it accepts the policy of the ANC as a liberation movement. The civic is the development wing of the people' (Interview with civic leader, Mhala district, 7 December 1993). Although there is a general enthusiasm about the presence of the ANC and civics there is little active ANC or civic involvement in land issues. The land question is clearly a central issue in the lives of ordinary villagers, and there is some commitment in the ANC regional office to the land question. It operates a land and agriculture desk in its department of economic planning, but the land portfolio has changed hands after each Annual General Meeting and the election of a new Regional Executive Committee. On the ground, however, there is little evidence of a coherent ANC programme, as observed by an ANC leader from Cork who stated that 'the ANC has failed to take practical steps to deal with the land issue' (Interview, Cork, 8 December 1993). This view is reflected in village interviews. Two Manzini residents remarked that 'the ANC should be very active on land issues. The ANC and aligned bodies have been very serious on other political demands, but not on land issues' (Interview, Manzini, 7 December 1993). Another Manzini respondent echoed this: "The ANC to date has not taken up a serious campaign on land, but the ANC should be taking a pro-active role in land campaigns for example land claims' (Interview, Manzini, 7 December 1993); while another emphasised the importance of the land question in social transformation, urging the ANC to take a more active role:
‘If the struggle does not change the present land system it will have been meaningless for the rural poor. The organizations that have been fighting apartheid should prioritize the acquisition of land for agricultural and residential purposes.’” (Interview, Manzini, 7December 1993).
A central weakness in the ANC's attempt to organize around land issues, is its failure to come to terms with the articulation of different levels of organization at the national, regional and local scale. This remains a crucial challenge for the success of participatory processes. Following the unbanning of the ANC, the organization moved quickly to establish a National Land Commission which began a process of policy work through the establishment of Regional Land Commissions. These structures were integrated into initiatives which in view of existing constraints were reasonably democratic,
but which were inadequately linked to the local level. It was these structures which were responsible for early policy work, through the 1991 National Conference in Durban, to the National Policy Conference held in Johannesburg in 1992. Following the policy conference, however, the National Land Commission began to disintegrate. One problem identified at the Durban Congress was the absence of a specific department of land and agricultural affairs. Despite recommendations made by the National Land Commission, it was effectively dissolved in 1992 and subsumed under the department of economic planning as the land and agriculture desk. The head of the National Land Commission was assigned the portfolio of agriculture, and the task of policy work more broadly while an appointment was made in 1993 to fill the vacant land portfolio. Steps were taken in the latter half of 1993 to revive the National Land Commission with its regional structures, but by then, links with local level structures had grown even weaker. This illustrates the impact of a centrally directed negotiations approach as the linchpin of overall strategy on the democratic workings of structures within the organisation. It does not mean, however, that land issues have been totally lost within the ANC. On the contrary, a progressive, albeit contradictory policy guideline exists (Levin and Weiner, 1993), while the Reconstruction and Development Programme of the alliance sets out a programme of land reform based largely on these guidelines. Nevertheless, the place accorded to private property rights in the ANC's own proposed Bill of Rights, as well as the concessions made by the organisation in the Interim Constitution, indicate that the aspirations of rural people around land have been subordinated to other priorities. It was of little surprise therefore when a large demonstration of rural people outside the World Trade Centre in September 1993 warned all negotiating parties not to ignore the land demands of rural people. The attempts by the NLC to facilitate the formation of a rural social movement around the Community Land Conference in Bloemfontein in February 1993, are a further indictment of the ANC's failure to take the land question sufficiently seriously. Another major problem with existing ANC land policy is that insufficient attention has been given to the role of organisation and resistance and as a consequence, the question of participation is not adequately addressed. While participatory approaches to development and land reform are far more likely to be successful than centrally directed top-down approaches, participation in itself cannot guarantee a truly democratic and representative process of policy formation and development. The key question of 'who' participates needs to be addressed in a way that integrates the broad mass of people into the process. This can only be achieved through an understanding of the social structure of rural communities along class, gender, generational and ethnic lines. The state's historical strategy of oppressing and marginalizing rural communities has been affected through
the creation and sustenance of the tribal authority. The effect of the ANC's ambiguity on the chieftaincy, has been to consolidate a highly repressive institution and network of power relations which excludes the most marginalized in the rural areas. This has important ramifications for the process of democratic participatory development and land reform. So does the erosion of civil society and the emergence of the ANC as a more topdown, centrally directed organisation than the UDF. A successful participatory approach to policy, planning and development work is predicated upon the existence of democratic structures on the ground, or else on the existence of the space to develop these, since it is through processes of participatory policy, planning and development work that democratic structures can evolve. This would suggest that a strong civil society is a precondition for democratic development, and implies that the civics are the key structures for a future participatory development programme. The experience of the civics in the post-1990 period indicates that they have relied heavily on the ANC for their organizational development, and that they have not yet developed clear democratic procedures and practices. The ANC should not abandon the terrain of civil society as it becomes a political party; in the Central Lowveld and elsewhere, it remains hegemonic. There is a tradition of South African political thought and practice which believes that the movement form is a far more effective construct for representing the interests of civil society (Fine, 1992). It is argued that political parties generally, and the ANC in particular, as the leading force within the Government of National Unity (GNU), represent the state 'side' of the state/civil society dichotomy. This ignores the fact that even though the ANC heads the GNU, in the present period it cannot effectively become the state, even if it wants to be, given the constraints of the interim constitution. The fact that the civil service is still largely run by functionaries of the old order attests to this. Furthermore, political parties themselves are also organs of civil society, and if democratically organized in bottom-up fashion are probably the most effective mediators between civil society and the state. The ANC is thus ideally placed to facilitate a programme of participatory policy, planning and development, provided that its structures are democratically organized from local through regional to national level. The situation on the ground leaves cause for concern. As we have shown, the emergence of the ANC has led to the erosion of nascent democratic grassroots structures which were subordinated to the priorities of the construction of a national political project. The formation of such a project was undoubtedly of critical importance, but the practices associated with it tended to replace grassroots initiative with top down direction. The overall
consequence is the undermining of prospects for the evolution of a successful participatory development strategy. Conclusion The massive failure of development in Africa is an indictment of top-down statist forms of developmentalism. Participatory policy formulation and planning is one possible strategy for overcoming past failures, but requires a commitment to transformation of existing local power structures. Participatory research is one component of a participatory strategy which in order to be genuine and popular requires systematic political organization. On its own, and in isolation, participatory research runs the risk of raising expectations which a research project on its own cannot satisfy. This was recognized in the CPLAR, and the project team attempted at all stages of the research to emphasize that research on its own could not deliver land or other resources. The message to some extent was driven home. In the final project workshop, a village delegate from Malekutu remarked that:
“We do not expect the project team to deliver our land to us. What the research has done is to help us to raise our level of consciousness and to help us understand the different questions which must be asked and answered in order to make a land policy.” (CPLAR Final Workshop, 13 March 1994).
Participatory research thus can act to facilitate a process of democratic interaction and in so doing, strengthen organization and the potential for collective action and struggle. In an interview with Mr Papi Nkosi of the Kangwane Agricultural Union, he commented that:
“The point I want to emphasize is that we should continue to have discussions of this nature so that we can give you more information about land issues. If we do not have a clear direction at the grassroots level, our politicians will make laws which are contrary to our needs. But if we are united at a grassroots level, we will be in a position to influence national land policy.” (Interview, Kabokweni, 19 January 1993).
Participation and research are integral to democratic agrarian transformation, but require objective conditions which include an environment of strong rural organization, and a commitment by national leadership to local-level involvement in policy formulation. This paper suggests that the experience of South Africa over the last few years implies that the implementation of participatory planning and development to ensure bottom-up development practice cannot be taken for granted, and will entail organization and struggle.
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