Sunday, September 25, 2011

Gordon Conway on the Legacy of Chambers and a must have Practicioner Guide

One of my many class assignments of my masters program, is a paper on a rural development theme. I decided to take a closer look to the issue of integrated development and its many semantic variations one comes across when reviewing the literature. I'm particularly interested in researching how the integrated approach to development has evolved since the post-war era.

Some questions I want to answer are:  why was big push for integrated development of the 70s, promoted by the World Bank and others, put aside for a more sectoral approach? What has changed in terms of technology, knowledge, governance, and other micro and macro factors that merit a closer reexamination to this approach as perhaps the most viable when implementing development interventions today? Has the debate followed a similar path in the humanitarian field? I'll be blogging about these questions and others, as I try to link my academic assignments to this blog. 

In any case, I wanted to share with you two things that I came accross today while doing research for the paper:

1) The first one is a wonderful guide put together by the Women's Refugee Commission, on Building Livelihood. This guide is one of the best toolkits practicioners working on both humanitarian and development context can use to access applicable information on steps to follow when implementing livelihoods strategies. One of the chapters is on supporting agricultural interventions. It describes the different assessments and analysis one must carry out to ensure a successful implementation of the program.

2) The second link I wanted to share is a lecture professor Gordon Conway, an expert on agricultural ecology and professor at the Imperial College of London, gave on the work of Robert Chambers. Chambers, one of the most renowned development scholars and author of the seminal "Rural Development: Putting the First Last" was one of the leading voices on the importance of engaging farmers in a significant way - one in which their voice shapes the nature of the intervention. In the video below,  Conway discusses the legacy to Chamber's work and presents the current challenges the world faces in issues of food security.

"We have to keep remembering that there is a huge private sector in Africa and Asia; is called farmers...and they deal in the private sector, and they need incomes. It's not just sustainable existence, it's sustainable development we are after" Gordon Conway