'Who knows best'
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CTA. 1994. 'Who knows best'. Spore 52. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/49424
The 'we know best' approach has predominated in deciding priorities and planning projects in rural areas. Unfortunately it has been the outside experts and not the local people whose opinions have predominated. At a recent meeting' to review and...
The 'we know best' approach has predominated in deciding priorities and planning projects in rural areas. Unfortunately it has been the outside experts and not the local people whose opinions have predominated. At a recent meeting' to review and assess rural development in Africa, one of the key. note speakers, Mr Moise Mensah, formerly Assistant President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and earlier Minister for Rural Development in Benin, provided an illustration of the need to consult local people: 'A team of experts visited a food deficit part of a country to finalize details of a rural development project. At a meeting with villagers the experts asked them what was their priority expecting them to reply, 'We want to increase production, we want better seeds, fertilizer and so forth.' Instead, the villagers said, 'Give us a feeder road to bring in medicines, because we have a lot of health problems here. Then they explained that the health problems were due to polluted water: the waste from the village, including human waste, was getting into the river, which was the only source of drinking water. 'If you can help with improving waste disposal, that would be a great help', me villagers said. 'And by the way', they went on, 'our children cannot stay with us in our own village because the nearest school is in town!' What had this to do with increasing agricultural production? The villagers were clear in their own minds. 'If you could help us to be healthy, and if you could help us build schools to keep our children with us, they could help with our farming activities. Then we might be able to increase production.'