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close this bookRecording and Using Indigenous Knowledge: A Manual (IIRR, 1996, 211 p.)
close this folderPart 5 - Question guides
View the documentQuestion guides
View the documentGender and indigenous knowledge
View the documentFarmer-to-farmer extension and farmer experimentation
View the documentSoil fertility
View the documentCropping systems
View the documentGardening
View the documentAgroforestry
View the documentWatershed management
View the documentEnvironment, natural resources. and biodiversity
View the documentCoastal resource s management
View the documentAquaculture
View the documentAnimal husbandry and healthcare
View the documentFood and nutrition
View the documentReproductive health and family planning
View the documentWater and sanitation
View the documentHealth financing schemes
View the documentHealthcare systems
View the documentOccupational health
View the documentOrganizations and leadership
View the documentCredit and savings
View the documentEnterprise development
View the documentCommunication



This is not a questionnaire! Adapt, reword, and combine questions and top co to suit your objectives

It is often necessary to discuss a specific subject (e.g., rice growing, children's health) when asking about communication.

Information sources

How do people find out about the news? a new crop? a new crop variety? other subjects?

Who is the most knowledgeable person in the village about health? growing rice? breeding cattle? village traditions? other subjects? Who is the best farmer? midwife? blacksmith? leader?

Where do people go to for information or advice if they have an ill child? a farming question? a sick animal? a dispute with their neighbor? other subjects?

Do they give this person anything in payment for 0a or her advice? in cash or in kind?

Who are the leaders in the village? Are there any organized groups in the village?

Who makes decisions on each subject?

Is there anyone who makes announcements or delivers messages for the village head? for the organization? for specific groups in the community?

Is there anyone with whom you disagree on the subject?

Is there anyone who likes to try out new things?

Who in the village travels most? How do they go from place to place? Where do they go? Whom do they visit and talk to? Why do they travel? What types of information do they bring back?

Which outsiders visit the village? What types of information do they bring with them? Do local people think this information is useful? credible? applicable locally?

Communication channels
Folk media

What do people do for entertainment?

What types of performing arts are practiced in the village? What types of drama? plays? puppet shows? On what occasions? On what topics? Who performs? Who determines the script?

Are there village festivals or holidays? What happens on these occasions? How are they organized? Who attends? Who is involved?

Does anybody tell stories? recite proverbs? sing gongs? dance? What are these stories/proverbs/songs/dances about? What do they mean?

Economic relations

Where do people buy what they need? Where do they sell their produce? What do they buy and sell? Who do they buy from or sell to? Who in the family (men, women, children, elderly) buys and sells?

Are there stores in the village? Who manages them? What do they sell? What information do the storekeepers provide to customers about the goods they sell?

Where do people buy seed? medicine? tools? How do they find out how to use these? How do they find out the right prices?

Do people borrow money? from whom? what for? how is this arranged?

Indigenous organizations

Are there organizations or associations of people in the village? Who belongs to these? What do they do?

Where do the organizations meet? when? Who attends? Who speaks? What is discussed? How are decisions made?

How do members find out about the organizations' decisions and activities? How do non-member find out?

Indigenous education

How do children learn how to farm? plant rice? sell produce? other skills? Who teaches them? How are they taught?

What does the mother teach a child? the father? older brothers or sisters? grandmother? grandfather? other relatives? the child's friends?

Are there apprenticeship arrangements for learning skills or professions? for which subjects? Who can become an apprentice? Who teaches? How long are apprenticeships? What are the arrangements?


How do people record important information (such as land titles, farm boundaries, local laws, genealogies)? Who keeps these records? How are they used?

Other channels

Where do people In the village meet? For what reasons? Who meets in these places? What do they talk about?

Where do women meet? What do they talk about? Where do young people meet? older men? farmers? traders?

Who is regarded as the best source of gossip in the village?


What subjects do people learn about through the various channels?
What do they talk about at the well? in the fields? at the shop? in their homes? when visiting friends?

What subjects are they most interested in? What are they not interested in?

What have people learned in the last six months about farming? food processing? health? How did they learn this? What did they do with the information?


Who gets what types of information? Who does not get to hear about certain types of information? why not?

What types of people are there in the village? How can they best be divided into groups (e.g., by age, sex, wealth, class, caste, ethnicity, house location, ocupation, educational level)? Which individuals belong to which of these groups?

How do each of these groups get information? What types of information? How do they get it? What do they do with it?

Possible methods for obtaining information on indigenous communication

Use the technique described in the section Identifying indigenous specialists to discover who are the opinion leaders on a specific topic

Ask people to identify all the important individuals or organizations in the village. Ask them to draw circles representing each individual or organization. Get them to draw heavy lines between circles that communicate frequently about a certain subject; dotted lines between circles that communicate less frequently; no lines between circles that do not communicate about the subject. Use this method to identify social networks on a particular subject. (See also Venn diagrams.)

Ask the villagers to draw a map of the village showing all the houses (see Mapping). Ask them to identify on the map all important sources of information (such as the village store and TV sets) and places where information is exchanged (such as the village temple or mosque). Ask them to show who talks most with whom. Ask them to show this by drawing knee or stretching string from one house on the map to another.

Ask people to write on small pieces of paper the names of all the villagers. Put all the pieces of paper in a pot and mix them thoroughly. Then ask the villagers to divide the papers into groups according to certain criteria age, sex, wealth, etc. (let them decide on what criteria are appropriate). This exercise is useful in segmenting the villagers (dividing them into more or less homogenous groups). (See also Sorting and ranking.)

Use the method to draw a stratified sample (in the section on How to draw a sample) to segment the village into homogenous groups.

Compiled by Paul Mundy