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British Academy as part of the Newton Mobility Scheme
Stellenbosch University (SU)
Dr. James Bennett (CoI) Coventry University (CU), Dr. Colin Anderson (CU), Dr Cletos Mapiye (SU), Professor Kennedy Dzama (SU)
The proposed project brings together scholars from Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (CAWR) at Coventry University (CU) and Department of Animal Sciences (DoAS) at Stellenbosch University (SU) as part of a knowledge exchange around action based research approaches that can be applied in exploring local institutions and livelihoods of communal livestock farmers in South Africa. Staff and postgraduate students from DoAS at SU are involved in several livestock-based projects within rural communities in Eastern Cape Province focused on improving livestock nutrition, meat quality, animal marketing and livelihoods benefits for local people.
To date their approach to knowledge creation as part of these projects has mostly been grounded in traditional modes of scientific enquiry and has only recently begun to embrace more participatory approaches. In particular, there has been limited success in understanding the institutional dynamics of project delivery and its impact on livestock-based livelihoods, which is important as some project interventions are generating limited livelihood outcomes.
Local institutional interactions are often highly complex involving multiple actors from government, traditional authority and civil society and understanding how this impacts on local livelihoods and developing pathways for more effective engagement in project delivery that limit the opportunity for elite capture of livelihood benefits, is critical. Participatory action research (PAR) offers considerable opportunities in this context for improving understanding and potential livelihood outcomes. By recognising the importance of human agency in the co-production of knowledge there is the potential to better unpack current institutional dynamics around livestock-based livelihood interventions and adopt a collective approach to understanding and exploring alternative ways of achieving this. Researchers at CAWR have a strong track record in using PAR approaches to understand and reconceptualise local institutional dynamics associated with food and smallholder agricultural systems in both the UK and overseas. By drawing on this as part of a knowledge exchange, the project aims to explore the potential of action research to address these issues, by:
The project has created impact in three main ways: -
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