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Project description: objectives and aims

Objectives of the study:

  • To focus on the question of development from a "bottom-up" perspective, and describe how, within the local community, development is negotiated. Primary emphasis is put on communication within the local community and between communities and mothertongue-speaking local experts.

  • To describe the communicative actions pertaining to developmental issues

    • within and between the communities, the Community Development Committees / Waterpoint Committees, and the local Agricultural Extension Service as the three main organizational levels of SARDEP at Omatjete. The national level of SARDEP will be only marginally taken into account, especially since at the time of the first phase of the research project SARDEP has already been in the process of closing down its operation.

    • of the Tjohorongo-Kondjee Farmers' Association (TKFA), as an organization, including its branches, its board and coordinator, and its network resources within and outside the communal area of Omatjete. Specific attention is paid to issues of leadership, information policies, organizational robustness.

  • The work of both organizational units will be described in depth with special reference to their success, and tested against the evaluation of other groups concerned or involved. This ties in well with SARDEP's opinion on future action: "The project [i.e. SARDEP] did not manage to research in depth the role of the established committees within the existing organisational landscape and to shape its support mechanism according to findings of such research. Thus the roles of the committees, to a certain extent, remained hidden" (SARDEP 2001: 62). Though SARDEP itself may not be the direct beneficiary of our research any more, the local processes, into which most development projects have very little possibility to access and have insight to, we expect our research to be of interest for development work in general.

  • The Omatjete ward was chosen because it was recommended by SARDEP as one of the most successful Pilot/Test Areas of their project. SARDEP sees the excellent work of their local facilitator, Mechthild Kameho as an important reason for this. In the meantime Agricultural Extension personnel has changed considerably. The study shall find out a) which factors account from the local perspective for the positive/negative evaluation of the development work in the Omatjete ward, b) how these factors relate to generally recognized and locally defined indicators of sustainability, c) to what extent the positive outcome can be attributed to communicative processes (negotiation and decision-making strategies) and decisions relating to them (e.g. language choice), d) which aspects of the current state of the Omatjete development environment and the process leading to that state are seen with a critical eye, e) any other factors that may be relevant to understanding the current situation in Omatjete from the local perspective.

  • Social hierarchies, especially gender but also age, and current change occurring presently with respect to these hierarchies, are an important catalyst in the development processes in Omatjete and Omutiuanduko. This pertains to the extension officers as well as to the various Community Development Committees, and the Farmer's Association, and the community as a whole. Therefore we are interested in what ways age, but especially gender, and the success of development interact or are interrelated. Further we are interested to understand in what ways these changes find expression in communicative and discursive behaviour.

  • Through experimental methodology (see below) the proposed research will develop a model for local groups to assess their communicative ressources. Such communicative assessments shall support experts and local groups to a) identify positive and negative aspects of development communication, b) enable them to find solutions to their communicative problems in a participatory way, and c) to implement these solutions on a communicative level.

  • For the purpose of establishing a broader corpus of reference, permitting a comparative evaluation of the observations made in the SARDEP setting in Omutiuanduko, the Tjohorongo-Konjee-Farmers' Association, meetings in other villages have been made.








A Project of 
Volkswagen Foundation