A 'No Method' Approach to Empowering Local Communities

Team Uganda carried out field trials in two distinctive communities namely; Kibanjwa Community in Hoima district, Western Uganda and Apala Community in Apala sub-Country, Alebtong district in Northern Uganda. The choice for Kibanjwa community was influenced by the recent discovery of oil in the area and the impacts that this has had on the communities surrounding the oil wells. The whole experience although challenging, was worthwhile and insightful as it delved into how the local people in Uganda view and interact with their environment. It was also a learning experience for the multi-disciplinary research team, as they worked together on an issue of common concern. People came in large numbers for community forums, especially in Alebtong due to the fact that it is served by Widows and Orphanage Centre (AWOC), a partner of the SFA network.

People of Kibanjwa putting their heads together to identify their challenges, and how they can tackle them

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apala community was chosen because of its native identity as a “healing community” recovering from a 20-year old insurgency that claimed so many lives, and left families in distress and brokenness. The field trial for each study site lasted four days. In Kibanjwa, the field trial was from the 10th June to the 13th June 2017, while in Alebtong it was from the 17th June to the 20th June 2017.

The team employed a “no method” approach in the two study sites, which was very much influenced by the desire to empower the local people to talk freely about their world. Data collection approaches used included observations, quasi-transects walks, community forums and home visits. The level of knowledgeability, open-mindedness and degree of freedom of expression portrayed by the community participants, made the process enjoyable, fruitful and offered a desirable degree of flexibility not restrictive to any specific method. The whole process was a mixture of compromises, surprises, breaking new ground and contestation, but eventually the team reached a common understanding.

Joseph & Kevin from the Ugandan Research Team with notebooks listening and recording experiences of Apala community members during a quasi – transect walk

Scoping Trial, Uganda

Scoping Trials

Sustainable Futures in Africa is an interdisciplinary collective aiming to build understanding, research, and practice in socio-ecological sustainability in Africa. In order for relationships to be built, methodologies to be explored, and to achieve the shared understanding that is aspired for, the SFA network is running trial research projects. These are being run with an emphasis on the trial and error aspect, for researchers to explore the unfamiliar, social scientists exploring hard science and vice versa. Furthermore colleagues in Glasgow will take every opportunity to work with the projects in Nigeria, Uganda, and Botswana as they develop.

The Ugandan research trial will take place from the first of June, running until the 22nd June when Daniel Koehn, University of Glasgow, departs from Kampala. The locations will be in the community of Kibanjwa village, Kibanjwa Parish, Kitoba Sub-County, Hoima district (Albertine region) and the Alebtong district.

Dr. Hannington Twine outlines the research methods and design below:

Field Approvals

In both study sites, our contact persons will use their ongoing research approvals and contacts to introduce the rest of the team to the communities.' Dr. Alex Okot who is a board member of Apala Widows and Orphanage Centre will take an advance visit ahead of the Ugandan research team. He will inform the Local Council Officials in writing of the visit to the organisation. Likewise, Ms. Kellen Aganyira has ongoing research engagement in the Albertine region and she will use her current approvals to introduce the team to Local Council officials of Kibanjwa in Hoima district.

Methodology

This field trial visits will approach the communities without a pre-conceived research design. The interest of team Uganda will be to understand the communities’ perception of the environmental issues and ecosystems. We shall enter the communities as learners or listening posts. We shall provide direction of the discussions by a problem posing approach, that is, probing and prompting them to talk about issues related the environment, biodiversity and ecosystems.

Data collection

The data collection will be by the researchers themselves in partnership with the community members in the respective regions. a collaborative process. We will be assisted with local council officials especially on the planed transect walks. Due to language differences, we shall require services of one interpreter in northern Uganda. This is because we shall be divided into two transect walk groups and yet we only have one person among us who communicates properly in the local dialect. In the Albertine region, there will be no need of an interpreter since two members in the group understand the local dialect and we shall only have one group for the transect walk.

Data collection will be by way of observations, transect walks, Community forums and journaling. We intend to capture images of humans and their environment. Areas of special interest in this pilot study will include:

  1. Land tenure system
  2. Water sources and their management
  3. Landscape and geology
  4. Trees/forests and their importance to them
  5. Wetlands (relationship and importance)
  6. Agricultural practices (Animal husbandry and cultivation)
  7. Wild life (relationship and importance)

Team Members

Albertine Region

On the 9th June Daniel Koen will arrive in Kampala, Uganda, to join the rest of the Ugandan scoping trial team. Their interaction with the Kibanjwa Community, Kitoba Sub-County, Hoima district in the Albertine region will begin on the 11th June. The research will draw upon the existing issues surrounding oil and gas and the impact of this on the environmental area. The team will return to Kampala and Daniel will travel to the Rwenzori Mountains on the 14th June to further his personal research in the region.

See map below for the location of the research trial in Uganda.

Alebtong Region

On the 18th June the research team will then travel to the Alebtong Region where they will partner with Apala Widows and Orphanage Center to analyse issues that impact the locality such as the large refugee influx and the subsequent strain on resources alongside the local water sources to form a socioecological analysis. The research will draw to a close on the 22nd June when Daniel returns to Glasgow, Scotland.

See map below for the location of the research trial in Uganda.

In partnership with: