Understandings, indicators, and implications of enhanced adaptive capacity within agricultural development interventions in Northern Ghana

Taylor, Rachael C (2017) Understandings, indicators, and implications of enhanced adaptive capacity within agricultural development interventions in Northern Ghana. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Enhanced adaptive capacity is increasingly being pursued as an objective of agricultural development interventions due to the perceived vulnerability of smallholder farming communities to a range of shocks and stresses. This research used two case studies of agricultural development interventions in Northern Ghana to examine diverse understandings of adaptive capacity, potential indicators of enhanced adaptive capacity, and the implications of this for sustainable agricultural livelihoods. The thesis reviews relevant theoretical literature to situate the study among complex adaptive systems thinking and sustainability discourses. Associated policy documentation is reviewed to set the context in which, and identify why, development interventions seek to enhance adaptive capacity. The primary methods of data collection were interviews, focus groups, and ethnography, as well as secondary data in the form of documentation from the case studies. Multiple understandings of adaptive capacity were identified in both case studies, including ‘formal’ understandings of the projects’ funders and management, and ‘informal’ understandings of field staff and participating farmers. The findings contribute to theory, policy and practice through explicit recognition of the diversity of understandings of adaptive capacity, which has not been appreciated or analysed previously. Indicators of enhanced adaptive capacity emerged from the findings. Findings show how features of social capital were integral to enhanced adaptive capacity and played a dominant role in beneficial outcomes, even when not the priority of the interventions. This implies a set of indicators of enhanced adaptive capacity that can inform theoretical discourse, policy and programme planning, and monitoring and evaluation in practice. Finally, this research identified the role of social capital in contributing to enhanced adaptive capacity, which supports sustainable agricultural livelihoods. These findings contribute lessons for similar ongoing and future agricultural development interventions and recommend a focus on features of social capital rather than physical and technological capital.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DT History of Africa > DT0470 West Africa. West Coast > DT0491 British West Africa > DT0509.97 Ghana (Gold Coast)
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labour > HD1401 Agricultural economics
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 30 May 2017 14:52
Last Modified: 30 May 2017 14:52
URI: http://srodev.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/68274

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