When Participatory Approaches Mess up Your Plans

I never imagined that this man who had brought his herd into this other community’s pastures and flouted the community’s grazing rules, and whose actions had disrupted our training workshop would become a champion of our approach.   The Interrupted Workshop I had...

False Dichotomies and Suspicious Phrases in Environment and Development

Trust in God AND tether your camel! In one version of the story behind this Middle Eastern proverb, which is sometimes attributed to the Prophet himself, two Bedouin herders get into an argument, one claiming that reality is harsh and that people have to take care of...

Problem Trees, Brainstorming and Storytelling

I’m sick of problem trees and brainstorming exercises. In initiatives based on a landscape approach, once the various stakeholders with some connection to the landscape have been brought together, often one of the first things they are asked to do is some kind of...

Science, Development, and Pizza Delivery

For the past seven years I have been working with an international agricultural research institute doing what is often called “research for development”, but I’m about to leave and embark on the next step in my career.  And so it seemed like the right time to reflect...

Communal Land Tenure is a Hammer

It has become accepted wisdom that effective land governance is an unavoidable prerequisite for investment in the future and secure land tenure is the cornerstone of land governance.  It is seen as a pillar in the fight against poverty and a precondition for...