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Veen diagram

The Venn diagram is a kind of social map of the community (see Figure 7). It can be used to show which individuals and groups have an influence on decision making, as well as the relations between village institutions and outside forces, such as government services or development agencies. The diagram can be traced on the ground or on a large sheet of paper. If colored paper is available, it can be helpful to cut different sizes and shapes of paper to represent the different kinds of institutions (men's or women's committees for example) and individuals. The larger the piece, the more influential the actor. The cards identifying village individuals and groups should be placed inside a big circle which represents the village. If the cards touch, that means that there is some interaction or overlap of membership between the two groups. The cards representing exterior organizations are placed outside the village circle. Arrows can be drawn to show how outside organizations interact with village institutions.

While it will be useful to complete the entire diagram to get an idea of the range of local decision-making bodies, discussion will most usefully focus on those that are active in natural resource affairs.

Some Questions to Ask while Using a Venn Diagram

• Which people or groups have power to make rules concerning resource management?

• Which act to enforce the rules?

• What happens when there is a conflict (give example)?

• What is women s role in decision-making? in decisions on resource management?

• Is the village autonomous in its decision-making on natural resource management or does it work in conjunction with other communities?

• What kinds of help or sanctions come from outside the village concerning resource management?

• Are any of the institutions noted gaining or losing power as time passes? Why?

Figure 7: Venn diagram

SOURCE: Resource management Practices and Tenure Constrainst and Opportunities in the Koundou Watershed, Founta Djallon, Guinea.

Figure 7 shows a Veen diagram that was draw in a former captive village in Guinea. It was particularly interesting to note that the decision of the village Council of Elders (the body which makes most decisions concerning resource use in the territory) must be confirmed by the Councils of the former noble villages, it was found that there were no such constrains on of the Council of Elders of that village. This was one of several critical indicators of the continuation of this historic (and officially outlawed) relationship between the two village. It was then possible to explore in greater depth the impact this has on resource management issues.

Conflict matrix

The technique of doing matrices was discussed above. One of the many possible variations is a conflict matrix can evoke sensitive issues and raise suspicions concerning the motives of the research, it is best to wait until the team has developed a good rapport with the village before attempting the exercise. In this matrix, the various resources are listed on the vertical axis and the potential disputants along the horizontal axis (see Figure 8). It is important that informants be told that the research is not concerned with particular cases of conflicts, but rather with the kinds of disputes that occur and their relative frequency.

Some Questions to Ask while doing a Conflict Matrix

• What are the principal causes of disputes over natural resources in the village?
• Why is one type of resource disputed more than another (if this is the case)?
• Are there mechanisms for resolving these disputes?
• Has the nature or frequency of disputes changed over time?
• What can be learned about access and rules of exclusion from the kinds of disputes people are describing?

Informants are asked to place markers to indicate whether disputes took place among villagers, between villagers and neighboring villages, between villagers and strangers, or between villagers and officials of the state (such as government agents). It might be useful to add a column at the beginning for disputes that take place within. the family. Few markers show that there are very few disputes, whereas many markers mean that there are lots of problems. Once the matrix is completed one can go back to ask whether the problem was resolved by the disputants themselves or by an intermediary of their choice, whether it required intervention by village officials, or whether it was treated at a higher level.

Figure 8 shows a matrix which was done during a study in Senegal. It was done on the next to last day of the study with a group of men who had come to know the research team well. They were reminded that all communities have problems and members of the team gave examples from their own communities to open the discussion. The matrix helped them to see the importance of problems between people starting gardens and conflicts that had arisen, goat owners (who were disproportionately women) had gotten rid of all of their animals. This issue had only been superficially alluded to in other conversations. Once its importance, was made apparent in the matrix, the issue was pursued in greater detail in various interviews.

Figure 8: Conflict matrix

NOTE: dots represent markers such as seeds These markers reflect frequency of disputes i e few markers = few disputes.

SOURCE: unpublished

Semi-structured interview

The semi-structured interview (SSI) is a tool that can be used at any time in an RA. In most cases, an SSI should accompany the use of every other tool, since it will be useful to probe certain questions and follow up topics of interest. Formal interviews generally use pre-established questionnaires. In contrast, the SSI starts off with a "checklist" of issues that the interviewer wishes to address. Some people prefer to have quite detailed checklists so that they do not forget what they want to ask, while other people feel comfortable noting only the very broad outlines and then devising their questions as they go along. In either case, the interview should be as relaxed and friendly as possible. The interviewer(s) should try to guide the discussion to cover the topics on the checklist, while leaving room to pursue any relevant subjects that are brought up by the informant. SSIs can be done with individuals or with groups.

Example of How a Checklist Issue Turns into an Interview

CHECKLIST ISSUE: Women's role in decision-making


• Who are the women in the village who have particular influence when decisions are made in the village?
• How did these women become influential?
• What role do they play when decisions are made?
• Have there been any examples indicating when women have had a particular impact on how trees (or land, or pastures, etc.) are managed in the village?
• At the level of the household, what role do women play in decisions about land use (or other resource issues)? (Questions can be asked about her own fields, if she has them, as well as the family fields.)
• Who makes decisions about where women plant? about what will be planted and how?
• Who manages the harvest of women's fields?

Please note that each of these questions might have its own series of follow-up questions depending on the response of the informant.

Whenever possible in the first days of the RA, it is good to use a range of participatory techniques such as a maps, calendars, or matrices to involve the population as fully as possible. This is also a way to "triangulate" the use of techniques and to ensure that each subject its broached in different ways. With reference to the puzzle metaphor from Chapter 2, these techniques will reveal some of the big pieces that are needed to put the picture together. As the work progresses, it will begin to be apparent where the holes are and where there is the need to get more precise information. This is where an SSI that is focused on a particular topic can be very useful. Often, these interviews will be done with carefully selected people who have a particular knowledge of the subject being addressed, rather than with informants chosen at random. Such interviews are known as key informant interviews.

While doing a map and a matrix, the informants may have made veiled allusions to a conflict over resources that took place some years back. It may not be comfortable to address the topic in a group, but perhaps talking to one of the individuals who mentioned it would be a good way to get more information. Or perhaps there is a need for more detailed information about women's roles in decision-making in the village. Asking around reveals that one woman is particularly respected. It may be useful to do an SSI with this woman. Among the key informants who may prove particularly useful in investigating resource use are the following: (a) an old person for the history of the village, (b) a specialist in herding or collection of tree products such as medicines, (c) people who have particular decision-making roles or are known for their negotiating skills, (d) a very poor person, and (e) people who use resources differently from the rest of the community (the one person with a garden or orchard).

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