Researchers Share Finding With Swaziland Farmers Through Community Celebration
Land degradation is a critical challenge for Africa. Combined with climate change and poverty, it reduces food security and risks the livelihoods of millions.
This much is well known. What’s more challenging is how to fix the problem. Research can play a major role in identifying solutions. But success in getting research findings to those who can use them depends on how the research is done, specifically whether people most affected by the issues being researched are involved, and how the outcomes are shared.
For research to begin to provide answers and to inform practice it needs to be relevant, legitimate and accessible to groups that can best use it. Whether this is achieved depends on the process through which knowledge is produced, and needs attention to be given to the social context in which new knowledge is shared.
Over the past few decades researchers have adopted more inclusive ways of working. Research on land degradation and its prevention has started to involve land users themselves more directly, often as sources of data and sometimes by involving them in data collection through longer-term monitoring programmes.
But the next step – of sharing the findings – is still often neglected. A great deal of research is extractive and takes from people, only to gather dust on shelves, failing to reach those who can use it to improve their lives.