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Case Studies:



Ways of Working


The research adopts an international, action oriented, interdisciplinary and case study approach that builds on the expertise of local resource users and national and international partners. After a period of consultation with possible partner organisations and various international advisors, criteria were listed for the selection of country case studies.

Case studies are being conducted in India, Indonesia Iran and Peru. Each case study aims to explicitly analyse the linkages between social, economic and ecological systems through its objective to relate management practices based on ecological understanding to the social processes behind these practices.

The process of conducting research is considered at every step as important as the ultimate findings. The research agenda and priorities for each country case study have been arrived at through extensive participatory dialogue with partners. The participatory process also clarified the roles, rights and responsibilities of local partners and IIED, with the adoption of a code of ethics. The participatory dialogue also resulted in some innovations in the medium of research documentation.

In each country case study, the research team is complemented by a National Learning Group. This NLG draws together key people from different hierarchical levels and sections within government bureaucracies, civil society organisations, and the private sector to analyse the creative tasks that have led to or are needed for the adaptive management of agricultural biodiversity and the maintenance and enhancement of localised food systems.

Linking the local to the international: a power structures perspective

Various structures of decision making power influence the dynamic relationships between agricultural biodiversity, livelihoods and food systems. These structures include the distant arenas of trade, finance and international agreements and extend downwards to the level of national government, on through the village, to the relationships within households.

Each case study uses a variety of complementary methodologies to better understand how key local, national and international decision making structures influence the dynamics of “Sustaining Local Food Systems, Agricultural Biodiversity and Livelihoods”. Some of the arenas of decision making power examined include gender relations, access to land and other property rights within families and communities, national public spending priorities and agricultural development policies, as well as international trade, global corporations and emerging international norms. Examples of the latter include:

A one day international workshop was also organised in the UK, in July 2001 in response to a felt need from partners to learn and to demonstrate how a local-food approach can be integrated into national, regional and global food and agricultural policies.

The research teams are employing participatory research methods, for analyses of livelihoods, agroecosystems and landscapes, market relations, organisations and impact analysis. Historical analysis and complementary methods from the social and natural sciences are also used.

Analysis of the case studies will lead to the identification of key constraints faced, favourable conditions of success, and prerequisites for success in the decentralised management of agricultural biodiversity. This later analysis will be based on a consideration of:

  • key goods and services provided by biological diversity for rural livelihoods and localised food systems

  • best management practices

  • the knowledge and social mechanisms behind the management

  • adaptations in local fora and institutional arrangements to local ecosystem and landscape characteristics

  • additional capacity building needs of local resource management fora and networks

  • supportive marketing and trade policies, and legal and economic measures at international and national levels.

The project will culminate in national and international workshops where the policy implications are reviewed. Each case study will outline a strategy for long term capacity building and the strengthening of local platforms set up for adaptive management of agricultural biodiversity and localised food systems.



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