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Success Factors in Integrated Natural Resource Management R&D: Lessons from Practice

Jürgen Hagmann, Independent Process Advisor/Facilitator
Edward Chuma, University of Zimbabwe
Kuda Murwira, Rural Development Consultant/Facilitator
Mike Connolly, Agritex-GTZ Change Management Program
Paolo Ficarelli, Broadening Agricultural Service Delivery Program


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This paper analyzes integrated natural resource management (INRM) lessons and success factors based on a practical case study over more than 10 years in Zimbabwe. The work was geared toward enhancing the adaptive management capacity of the stakeholders in their resource-use systems. One main result was the development and institutionalization of an approach for participatory and integrated NRM research and extension. The INRM approach described is grounded in a learning paradigm and a combination of theories: the constructivist perspective to development, systemic intervention, and learning process approaches. Participatory action research and experiential learning, in which researchers engage themselves as actors rather than neutral analysts in an R&D process to explore the livelihood system and develop appropriate solutions together with the resource users, has shown high potential. However, this should be guided by a clear strategy, impact orientation, and high-quality process facilitation at different levels. The case study revealed the importance of a “reflective practitioner” approach by all actors. More effective response to the challenges of increasing complexity in NRM requires a shift in thinking from the linearity of research–extension–farmer to alternative, multiple-actor institutional arrangements and innovation systems. To overcome the weak attribution of research outcomes to actual impact, it also suggests an alternative to conventional impact assessment in INRM R&D interventions.

Key words

change management, facilitation, impact assessment, institutionalization, learning processes, local organizational development, natural resource management, participatory approaches, systemic intervention

Copyright © 2002 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087