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Village Research

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    Friends: Below is an excellent article about how village people in Thailand are doing their own research to find out how development is affecting their lives.
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 23, 2004
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      Friends: Below is an excellent article about how village people in
      Thailand are doing their own research to find out how development is
      affecting their lives. It is a wonderful example of the power and
      wisdom of the grassroots......max

      Village researchers show the way
      Published on November 24, 2004
      Research initiatives by Thai villagers could serve as an example to
      other countries in their quest for sustainable development, a senior
      officer with the World Conservation Union (IUCN) said yesterday.
      Villagers affected by development projects here are conducting their
      own research into the impact of development projects on their
      communities and livelihoods – known as Tai Baan, meaning villagers in
      northeastern dialect – while non-governmental organisations provide
      consultants and financial supports.
      Their experience would soon be applied in the Mekong countries of
      Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, said Richard Friend, an IUCN Mekong
      programme manager.
      Citing the example of Tai Baan research in the Songkram river basin,
      Friend said villagers had been engaged from the beginning.
      "Villagers will participate from the research design stage. We
      provide consultants and financial support as necessary," he said. "We
      are learning together, and it's quite successful."
      Beginning with research into the impact of the controversial Pak Mool
      dam a few years ago, villagers also conducted their own research in
      four other areas – the Songkram river basin in Sakhon Nakhon, Sa-iab
      district in Phrae, Chiang Rai's Chiang Khong area, and the Rasi Salai
      dam area in the Northeast.
      Pak Mool villagers conducted a study to show how the dam would hurt
      their traditional fishery as part of a mechanism to fight for
      compensation.
      According to Friend, the strength of Tai Baan research is that it is
      rooted in the local community.
      Since researchers are the very villagers affected by government
      development programmes, their research benefits from their intimate
      knowledge of their communities, he said.
      "These strengths should be keys for sustainable development," Friend
      said. "The process creates various types of activities through which
      villagers taking part in the research learn a great deal."
      "We never thought it would get to the point where our research can be
      applied to other countries," said Surachai Narongsilpa, 52, a
      villager from the Songkram river basin.
      However, Laothai Nilnuan, a coordinator for the Songkram River
      Conservation Project, slammed what he called the IUCN's cash-centred
      approach in luring local communities to its project.
      He said the practice undermined existing local initiatives to empower
      communities and achieve sustainable development.
      "Moreover, the IUCN takes credit for everything they do," said
      Laothai, who has been working in the Songkram basin for nine years.
      "Its logos are all over the place. It's like the IUCN is trying to
      build monuments to itself wherever it goes," he said. "This is in
      contrast to the way we do things here – everything is a communal
      initiative. We don't promote the hero-style of working in
      communities."
      Kamol Sukin
      The Nation, Thailand
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