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Institution: Overseas Development Institute, England
Diana Carney is a Research Associate and former Research Fellow (1994-98) of the Overseas Development Institute in London. She holds masters degrees in agricultural economics and political science and has worked largely in southern and eastern Africa. Since early 1998 she has been working closely with the UK Department for International Development (DFID) helping to develop its Sustainable Livelihoods approach to poverty elimination (following on from the UKs 1997 White paper on International Development).
Title: Holistic approaches to poverty reduction: where does agricultural research fit in?
Poverty has multiple dimensions (many do not relate to income), means different things to different people, and is very dynamic. The rural poor are often poorly connected to policy making/service providing organisations, unaware of their rights and unattractive to the private sector. However, rural poverty has traditionally been addressed through focusing on a single dimension: agriculture. Results have been mixed and, despite some significant successes, research has lost credibility (especially with those concerned about social dimensions of poverty).
Ways to move forward:
- Build research upon a broader, more dynamic, and more realistic notion of povertywith people at the centre.
- Ensure indicators are negotiated with people.
- Treat research not as an end in itself but as one way of building human capacity: sometimes it is a priority, sometimes not.
- Link research more closely to other types of support activity, especially to efforts to develop an institutional environment that increases peoples choice.
- Pay more attention to the impact of `external/macro level factors on the benefits of research.
The paper will describe the new thinking, illustrate it with examples and stress differences between old and new approaches. It will also note challenges and requirements for new ways of working.
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