Networking for development
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CTA. 1988. Networking for development. Spore 16. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
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In the 1970s the UK's Overseas Development Institute (ODI) investigated the possibility of maintaining the international inter-disciplinary contacts established between researchers and practitioners at seminars and conferences. This led to the...
In the 1970s the UK's Overseas Development Institute (ODI) investigated the possibility of maintaining the international inter-disciplinary contacts established between researchers and practitioners at seminars and conferences. This led to the establishment of the Agricultural Administration Unit (AAU) at ODI in London in September 1975. The Unit was funded by the Ministry of Overseas Development (now ODA), research grants and foundations. The Unit aims to achieve its ends in three ways: by a programme of policy-oriented research in selected subject areas; by the promotion and dissemination of ideas and experience; and through its members (planners, administrators, technical officiers, researchers, and teachers in many countries). Membership is free, for in many cases those who would benefit come from isolated rural locations, where professional literature is hard to obtain. Members can contact one another directly or through the Register of Members, published every three years. ODI sees itself as the facilitator of exchange rather than a controller or co-ordinator. Three specialist networks were set up initially: Agricultural Administration, Pastoral Development and Irrigation Management to be followed by Social Forestry in 1985 and the ODI-IIMI (International Irrigation Management Institute, Sri Lanka) Management Network in 1986. The networks draw on a wide range of nationalities, professions, skills and disciplines, and membership of each stands at around 600-900. Members receive specialist papers from AAU staff and from individual members according to their particular speciality. In addition to the circulation of research papers, newsletters are issued containing up-to-the-minute information on current work workshops and relevant events. The Agricultural Administration (Research and Extension) Network ranges in coverage from methods of farmer consultation and local diagnosis to the management of extension and field services and currently focuses on the links between agricultural research and farmers in difficult environments. The ODI-IIMI Irrigation Management Network is the largest, with additional funding from the IIMI, and its main technical discipline is engineering. Topics covered in recent newsletters include recurrent cost recovery, aspects of groundwater exploitation, water-user associations, and planning methodology. The Pastoral Development Network was set up initially to help African pastoralists find appropriate ways of improving productivity and living standards. It is now one of the main sources of information and support to individual consultants and NGOs in this field. The Social Forestry Network links those working in a new branch of forestry which tries to encourage tree-planting and management by farmers villagers and foresters, in addition to providing timber for industry and supporting environmental protection. Twothirds of the 900 or so members of this network work in the Third World. Research undertaken at the AAU aims to evaluate agricultural development programmes, and attempts to raise the standard of living of rural producers by improving the design, organization, management and ideas of the programmes. The Unit has five full-time staff members covering the following subject areas: design and management of irrigation systems; organization of agricultural extension services; socio-economic and institutional aspects of rural development, particularly in semi-arid regions; employment vis-a-vis choice of agricultural technology, and social and institutional aspects of farm and village forestry. There is a Programme Advisory Committee, on whose experience the AAU can draw, which meets under the chairmanship of the Director of ODI. Its brief is to consider future policy and activities as well as work in progress. A full list of AAU publications will be sent on request. For more details, contact: Publications Office, ODI Regent's College Inner Circle Regent's Park London NW1 4NS UK
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