"Knowledge is power" has become a common but true cliché in development research. And, as two sides of the same coin, "knowledge sharing" and "power sharing" lie at the root of many development problems, including drought and desertification. But what of grassroots knowledge? Measures or signals of environmental quality or change recorded by individuals, households, and communities are derived from local systems of observation, practice, and indigenous knowledge. They are grassroots indicators and, used effectively, may lead to the creation of new and more accurate development indicators, as well as improved processes for both planning and monitoring.
This is the central focus of Grassroots Indicators for Desertification. The book documents why grassroots indicators should play a key role in the monitoring, evaluation, and reporting systems for sustainable development and, more specifically, in efforts to reverse desertification and other forms of land degradation. It also shows how their use would encourage local control of the generation and use of knowledge.
Helen Hambly has been involved in the Grassroots Indicators Project since 1993. She is currently completing her PhD dissertation with the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University in Toronto, Canada.
Tobias Onweng Angura is the Acting Regional Coordinator of the Africa Grassroots Indicators Network. He is a Research Associate at the Makerere Institute of Social Research, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda.