Sustaining and innovating marginalised rural livelihood pathways in development contexts

Lead Research Organisation: University of Reading
Department Name: Sch of Agriculture Policy and Dev

Abstract

The aim of this 18 month project is to enhance and consolidate research collaboration and partnership between the University of Reading (UoR) UK and Tokyo Agriculture University (NODAI) and Hokkaido University (HU) in Japan. These institutions each have a world-class reputation in innovative agricultural and social science research. The academics involved in this project have shared interests in understanding marginalised and agriculturally-dependent livelihoods in developing contexts. Through the collaborative process of this project, joint critical understandings of perspectives on marginalised rural livelihoods will be developed, exploring conceptual thinking from within UK and Japanese academic discourse. By drawing on case studies from their own research in SE Asia and Africa, the collaborators seek to identify the practical and policy entry points to support these marginalised populations and ensure pathways to resilient rural livelihoods. In conjunction with the question of pathways and entry points to support marginalised populations is an understanding of the mechanisms by which that support takes place. One key area is communication, and rural communication services. Recognising that rural communities, particularly marginalised people, have complex needs is essential to creating effective strategies to support livelihoods without further embedding marginalisation. This approach will allow innovative reflection on how to support marginalised livelihoods, and how to engage with providing information or use communication in an empowering way. To address these challenges, conceptual and methodological innovation and insight are needed, through diverse and combined perspectives. This means working in a multidisciplinary way through a social science lens, reflecting on different academic and practical approaches. This richness through diversity is at the core of the UK-Japan network we seek to strengthen, using networking and showcase events, a series of knowledge exchange visits and writing workshops. The funding provides dedicated time to invest in delivering three high-quality joint research papers, and an application to a future research call based on the learning and ideas generated. Through developing this collaboration, we can also promote the sharing of best practice and knowledge exchange between UK and Japanese social science researchers and foster more formal research collaboration arrangements.

Planned Impact

This project will have a positive impact, both through the process of the project and the outputs, on 7 sets of beneficiaries. This will be through critical and cross-disciplinary engagement with theory and practice of development with regards to vulnerable rural livelihoods; comparative analysis of rural agriculture and community development in Japan and the UK; and, critical analysis of the role of rural communication in addressing the livelihoods of marginalised groups. The process of this research will allow for critical learning about processes of creating integrated international collaboration. The outputs of the project will provide academic insight into the thematic areas of the project's exploration.

Government international and agricultural development actors in the UK and Japan will benefit from the critical reflections of the project on international and agricultural development through an increased understanding of the perspectives and programming in international and rural development. They will be reached through participation in public meetings, targeting by project communication activities, and the publication outputs.

Research networks in international development and development communication will benefit from the comparative analysis of development thinking in each country as well as approaches to using communication to support programmes to support livelihoods pathways of marginalised groups. Indirectly, they may benefit from future collaboration goals of the project partners, as the larger project bid proposed as an objective of the project will involve further research actors. They will be reached through participation in public meetings, targeting by project communication activities, and the publication outputs.

International and bilateral development partners will benefit from the meta-analysis of marginalised livelihoods and communication activities to inform their programmes of support. FAO, UNICEF, USAID and others are active in this area. They will be reached through participation in public meetings, targeting by project communication activities, and the publication outputs.

Civil society organisations with an interest in rural agricultural livelihoods in Japan and the UK will benefit from the comparative analysis of each country through new understandings and innovations that can provide additional evidence to inform their work. They will be reached through participation in public meetings, targeting by project communication activities, and the publication outputs.

Non-governmental organisations working on rural development, marginalised livelihoods and rural communication will benefit from the evidence generated through the outputs of the project and engagement with the project teams during the process of the project. They will be reached through participation in public meetings, targeting by project communication activities, and the publication outputs.

National and international research institutes in both regions will have access to a richer understanding of marginalised rural livelihoods and approaches to international development through the outputs of the project which can inform their future research. They will be reached through participation in public meetings, targeting by project communication activities, and the publication outputs.

Private sector: Indirectly, through engagement with the project teams during fieldwork and outputs of the project, private sector actors in rural development in the UK and Japan may benefit from increased awareness of different rural agricultural livelihoods practices in the two countries. They may also be more attuned to rural livelihood issues that affect farmer decision making.

Publications

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