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Wageningen Universiteit (1996)

Communication between irrigation engineers and farmers : the case of project design in North Senegal

Scheer, S.H.

Titre : Communication between irrigation engineers and farmers : the case of project design in North Senegal

Auteur : Scheer, S.H.

Université de soutenance : Wageningen Universiteit

Grade : PhD thesis 1996

Résumé partiel
Irrigation schemes all over the world are often marked by a large number of related problems that have an important human dimension and are too complex to be straightforwardly solved. A starting point of this thesis is that these problems have to be dealt with in a learning process that involves all groups and organizations that are relevant to the irrigation scheme. This thesis explores communication processes between irrigation design engineers and farmers in North Senegal and aims at finding out how they can learn from each other.

A closer look at the literature about the subject shows that there are two blind spots in the knowledge of design engineers. Both stand in the way of learning. The first concerns a lack of consciousness about the crucial importance of farmers’ knowledge of physical phenomena in irrigation schemes such as water flow, soils, topography, etc. (i.e. technical knowledge of farmers). The second concerns a lack of knowledge about the procedures and methods that design engineers could use to improve farmers’ participation in the design process.

Consequently, the following questions for research arise : 1 What is the difference between the technical knowledge of design engineers and that of farmers ? 2 To what extent do engineers and farmers learn through exchange of technical knowledge, why and how does this exchange take place, and if not why not ? 3 What is the effect, of the exchange or non-exchange, on the design ? 4 How can the exchange of technical knowledge be optimized ?

The research was exploratory and qualitative in nature. The research material was based on detailed observations, informal interviews, semi-structured interviews and group interviews and discussions. Reflection on the collected material led to new perspectives that were useful for experiments at a later stage. Some experiments were part of the development and implementation of a canal maintenance programme for the Ile à Morphil small-scale irrigation project. This required intensive interaction between farmers and myself as an irrigation engineer. The experiments were closely monitored and became, in due course, new research material, which provided in turn a base for new perspectives. In this way several learning cycles were completed during the field research. In the final stage I broadened my perspective and visited several project areas in northern Senegal, where I conducted semi-structured interviews with irrigation engineers as well as groups of farmers.

Mots clés : irrigation / products / information / sociology / communication / nonverbal communication / participation / senegal / technical information

Présentation et version intégrale

Page publiée le 10 juin 2008, mise à jour le 1er juin 2022