LOCAL COMMUNITIES AS A FIFTH PARTNER
Participation and engagement of local communities since the beginning of the project is considered key to the project success and impact.
Action research motivates people to more willingly apply what they learn when they do it themselves. This methodology allows researchers to assess the potential demand and to identify barriers, constraints and opportunities for successful project development. Finally, action research ensures that bottom-up ideas are considered in the development and adaptation of the project.
As a first step, an initial mapping of stakeholders was used to identify potential users, farmers and households, and other relevant stakeholders such as farmers associations and cooperatives; delegation representatives; neighborhood associations; women associations; feed industries and related animal feed suppliers; rice mill industries; input suppliers; extension services and relevant civil servants related to agriculture.
Through focus group discussions oriented around a semi-structured survey, we turned potential users of the novel technologies into co-researchers. Thus, we define together strategies and incentives to promote the adoption of these technologies.
Particular emphasis was given to the participation of women, although due to cultural reasons women and men were split in different groups.
A large part of the population lacks access to clean cooking and typically use inadequate stoves or open fires in poorly ventilated spaces.
During the focus group discussion, all the women in the group mentioned smoke that results from cooking poses to a serious threat to one’s health. Directly affects women and children as they are usually the ones in the house constantly breathing in the smoke. In addition, children born to women who were exposed during pregnancy are at risk to low birthweight, impaired mental abilities and birth defects.
Widespread use of wood for cooking is a major cause of deforestation and forces people to travel farther to acquire wood that becomes more expensive to buy. The women also stated that using firewood becomes ineffective during the rainy season as the wood gets wet.