Livelihoods, Water, and Change: A Thai Baan Research Project
Posted Date: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 | Source: www.warecod.org.vn

The participatory approach to development recognizes the importance of engaging local people within development projects to give them more ownership.

Most projects implemented by WARECOD follow the participatory approach to development, and since I’ve been working with this organization, I’ve had many opportunities to travel into the field to different project sites and work with numerous local people. Several of the projects that I have been extensively involved with are Thai Baan Research projects. 

Thai Baan research is a form of participatory rural appraisal in which local communities identify and choose the research topics they would like to explore, and after choosing these topics they conduct the research through the help and guidance of NGOs such as WARECOD. The general goal is to turn these villagers into local researchers who then produce items (the outputs) such as books and pamphlets that can be used to further educate the community. The most recent project I have become involved with is called Livelihoods, Water, and Change: A ThaiBaan Research Project funded by the Swedish organization CPWF (Challenge Program on Water and Food). This project uses film as an innovative way to document the research findings; the WARECOD staff teaches the local researchers how to film using video cameras and edit the clips together to create an informative video that will be used to further educate the rest of the villagers. 


This past weekend, I completed a field visit for this project in the An Giang province of the Mekong River Basin and was able to help the locals conduct their research, aid them in improving their research methods, and guide them and the WARECOD team in activity facilitation and execution.  The short term goal of this project is to improve local dialogues and discussion about the Mekong River water resource, and therefore provide local people with the capacity and confidence to raise their voices and opinions if the resource is being threatened. With outputs such as the video, the water resource knowledge is to be passed within the community. The long term goal of this project is to better the decision making process of water development projects such as hydropower dams by encouraging local people to speak up and voice their opinions. For this particular field visit, the research topic was the importance of the river ecosystem. We asked the local villagers to determine areas of the river that hold the most biodiversity, types of organisms found in the river ecosystems, and food chains. Those who were present at the training included the local researchers, the WARECOD staff, the Laos team for a similar Thai Baan project, the donors, and the local authorities of the village (those who work at the district and provincial ministries of natural resources).

This project promotes skill and information sharing on many levels:

1)      Firstly, through Thai Baan Research. Local researchers are given the opportunity to build their research skills with the help of the WARECOD staff.

2)      Secondly, through producing outputs. The local researchers will produce a series of films depicting the Thai Baan research as outputs for this project. The local people will learn how to use video cameras and produce films through this project.

3)      Thirdly, through using the outputs. The films will be used to educate the rest of the villages on the importance of the Mekong River water resource for livelihoods.

Skill and information sharing is a good way to bring about development as it empowers people by knowledge. This project aims to educate people in the villages of the Mekong River Basin so that they have the capacity to express their thoughts about this water resource and contribute to future decision making processes regarding the Mekong River Basin. 

Skill and information sharing is a good way to bring about development as it empowers people by knowledge. This project aims to educate people in the villages of the Mekong River Basin so that they have the capacity to express their thoughts about this water resource and contribute to future decision making processes regarding the Mekong River Basin. 

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