From 24th July through 2nd August, Karen Greenough made a long tour through southern Burkina and northern Ghana as part of her ethnographic research on innovations resulting from VBDC activities. She started on Tuesday with Fred Kizito and Lee Davelaar, who were gathering information for the Volta Scenarios and Storylines (VSS) project. They spent the afternoon in Boura, first talking with two V3 team members, and then they interviewed M. Navé, the first vice-mayor of Boura commune, about climatic and agricultural changes that the area has seen over the past thirty years. It was market day that day, and though the farmers had gathered for a brief meeting with the V3 team in the morning, they had to either return to their fields or to market business by the time Karen, Fred and Lee arrived.
That evening, the team drove south to Lawra, in northwest Ghana, the site of two V2 villages. In the morning they met with an ARI (Animal Research Institute) agent who works with the V2 team, and all went to talk to four farmers in their fields. With the farmers, they examined the soil and water conservation techniques of tied ridging and contour bunds, as well as new methods of intercropping soy beans with maize. They heard how the farmers had applied manure to some plots, chemical fertilizer to others, and left others bare of any intervention. Some farmers are recording rainfall with the help of rain gauges posted in their fields.
After a long drive to Tamale, Fred and Lee flew back to Accra, but Karen began interviews with ARI agents, including the director in Tamale, Franklin Avornyo. On Friday and Saturday, she visited Golinga and Digu, two of V2’s villages in Tolon Kunbungu, to interview the farmers about their activities with V2. Though it was Ramadan and many people (including her translator) were fasting, men in both villages showed and told her about their fields and animal pens, and women told her about their farming and commercial activities with V2. With the help of a national farmers’ association, both villages have recently registered a local group that will help them capitalize on the new information they have gained from V2’s Innovation Platforms (IPs) and trainings. On Saturday evening, she interviewed Yakubu Balma, the SNV consultant who leads the IPs, about the new group as well as his work with V2.
On Sunday, she headed north to Bolgatanga to talk with Aaron Aduna, local director of the Water Resources Commission, about his work with V4. During Science Week he had mentioned a revision of the White Volta Basin Board, based on what he has learned through V4 Companion Modelling. Karen wanted to find out more about the WVBB and how it will change. When the government changed hands three years ago, the WVBB, along with other government entities across the nation, was dissolved. Now with the impetus of V4, Mr. Aduna would like to facilitate its renewal. Besides Aaron, she interviewed three members of the Board to find out their views of its operations.
Later in August, Karen returned to Bolgatanga to observe the first meeting of the Board after three years. Besides following the progress of the WVBB, she plans to also follow the new group in Golinga/Digu. Both organizations may develop into innovations that have been influenced by VBDC activities.
Story by Karen Greenough