3. Difficulties Encountered During Field Research
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) provided technical backstopping to the People's Participation Programme (PPP) Project in Ghana from early 1982 until late 1992. After FAO's involvement in the project ended in 1992, it proposed a Post-Project Study of the PPP Project in Ghana (PPP-Ghana). The purpose of the study was to answer three fundamental questions concerning the project's long-term impact. First, how sustainable and self-reliant were the organizations formed by the project? Second, to what degree was the PPP development approach institutionalized and replicated in Ghana? Third, what benefits did individuals and their organizations receive from the project?
Due to the limited time for field research in Ghana, the scope of the study was further focused. Although project activities continue in a fourth phase, research was concentrated on the first three phases. Research was focused in this manner since FAO involvement in the project ended with the completion of the third phase. In addition, priority was given to answering the study's questions in the order they are listed above.
The study's field research was conducted by a graduate student from the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University with assistance provided by current project staff. Study researchers collected most of the information on the PPP groups during meetings in their villages. The issues discussed in these meetings included:
· group formation;The study researcher held meetings with 106 groups selected to represent the diversity of PPP groups in the two project action areas. A variety of characteristics were used to choose which groups to meet with: location, level of group activeness, principal group income-generating activity, years of active existence, and date formed. The groups met during the study's field research do not represent a random sample of all groups formed by the project. Therefore, care must be taken when generalizing the findings based on this sample. These 106 groups, however, represent a sample larger than those used in many previous evaluations of the project.
· group, individual, and community activities;
· group finance;
· group linkages;
· group constraints and future prospects.
In Begoro Action Area (AA), the study researcher held detailed discussions with 162 group members representing 28 groups from 7 different village clusters. Each meeting covered all the issues listed above, with the questions asked selected from those listed in Appendix I. Most of the meetings were conducted in English and Tri, with translation provided by project staff. Wherever possible, group, individual, and community service activities were visited during field research. Information on groups not met during field research was gathered through interviews with the group promoter responsible for the cluster where the group is located.
In Wenchi AA, initial research in the action area revealed that most of the groups formed during the project had failed. This realization shifted the focus of the research. Instead of detailed discussions with a limited sample of PPP groups, the researcher conducted a broader survey of the majority of the groups formed during the project. For this reason, general meetings were held with 209 former and current group members representing 83 groups from 6 different clusters.
Information was also gathered through interviews with villagers not participating in the project, traditional authorities, current and former project staff, local, regional, and national government officials, non-governmental organization (NGO) officials, and FAO officials in Accra and Rome. Project documents, files, and reports were also reviewed.
Various factors limited the ability of the study researcher to collect the desired information. Former and current project staff in both action areas had collected very little information concerning group activities and production. Those records kept by the project often contained large gaps and information of varying quality. This made a benefit-cost analysis of PPP-Ghana impossible.
While currently active groups were relatively easy to contact, failed groups and especially groups with loan defaults were very difficult to organize for meetings. While most current and former project staff were very helpful and supportive of the study, problems encountered during project's first three phases created some barriers. Some staff were reluctant to discuss these problems or to provide full support to the study research. Finally, poor communication made study planning difficult, thereby limiting both the amount of time spent in each action area and the number of individuals interviewed.