Over the years, there has been a debate on the application of participatory tools in real life. Participatory tools such as role playing games have been developed and tested in different countries where, they have been discovered to influence people’s behaviour towards solving their problems. This study was a part of European Union and African Union cooperative research aimed to increase food production in irrigated farming systems in Africa (EAU4Food) project in Mozambique. The aim was to assess the perceived appropriateness and practicability of role playing game among farmers’ association for maintaining the Chókwè irrigation scheme. A formative evaluation research was undertaken. Four farmers’ associations were purposively selected. The main solutions to the problems were to increase in maintenance capacity of the managers in terms of equipment and financial resources, a better transparency in the planning of annual maintenance, a strengthening of the mobilising capacity of water user associations and a better management of cattle in the scheme. The role playing game was appropriate in the cleaning of canals and actors’ interaction on most associations. The players perceived it practicable and they were happy to participate. Hence, they expressed interest in organising more game sessions. More times farmers play the game, their perceived appropriateness of the game in solving the problems, increases. It is then recommended that the role playing game should be used with other Farmer Associations regardless of type of farmers. The solutions provided by the farmers should be evaluated to assess their effectiveness.

Role playing game is a participatory tool that can be used to simulate real situations of sharing different views of stakeholders involved in a natural resource allocation. The Chókwè Irrigation Scheme (CIS) is the largest irrigation scheme in Mozambique. The scheme is affected by poor drainage, watercourses blockage and canals damaged by cattle. The tool has been successfully used in South Africa and Asia to influence people solving problems similar to those of the CIS. In this chapter, the research presents the background to the study, the statement of the problem, objectives of the study, significance of the study, delimitations of the study, limitations of the study, assumptions of the study, definition of key terms and organisation of the study.

Background to the Study 
This study was within the EAU4Food project, which is an European Union and African Union cooperative research aimed to increase food production in irrigated farming systems in Africa. The project in Africa is based in South Africa, Mali, Tunisia, Ethiopia and Mozambique. It started in 2011 with overall goal of addressing the need for new approaches that are capable of increasing food production in irrigated areas in Africa, while ensuring healthy and resilient environments. To move towards the attainment of this goal, there are two key strategies outlined by the project. The two strategies are firstly to utilise a true trans-disciplinary approach that involves active participation of all stakeholders in all relevant disciplines and, secondly, to determine and respect the sustainable production threshold. The threshold of sustainable production means a point at which the use of productive factors is in a way that meets the needs of the present without negatively affecting the future generations’ needs.

The economy of Mozambique, one of the countries involved in the EAU4food project, is essentially agricultural. More than 90% of farmers practice small-scale agriculture that is characterised by low productivity mainly, because of low adoption of improved agricultural techniques, low access to inputs and unfavourable rainfall.
About 8.8% of family sector farmers use irrigation (MINAG, 2010). The Chókwè Irrigation Scheme in Chókwè District, Gaza Province in Mozambique, is the largest irrigation scheme in the nation and is being managed by a public enterprise, Hidráulica de Chókwè Empresa Pública (HICEP).
According to Chilundo, Munguambe and Namagina (2012), the climate of Chókwè District is semi-arid with large rainfall variability within and between years with an average rainfall of 622 mm. Rainfall occurs mostly during the rainy season (October to April) counting for 88% of total annual rain. The average evapotranspiration is about 1,408 mm, resulting in deficit of water of 786 mm (the difference between rainfall and evapotranspiration) that must be covered by irrigation, if the farmers need to produce (rice and horticultural crops) the main crops grown in this district.

Chókwè Irrigation Scheme as the largest scheme in Mozambique has over the years been affected by poor drainage, floods and salination. These problems include cleaning of canals and adverse effects of cattle inside the scheme. Maintenance of the irrigation infrastructure of the scheme is the primary function of management.

According to Skutsch and Evans, as cited by Becu, Neef, Schreinemachers and Sangkapitux (2007), with examples of two large irrigation schemes in Asia, highlighted that there is a direct relationship between adequate level of maintenance and overall agricultural production. Maintenance of the irrigation scheme is very important because it influences the distribution of water to the users.
For Chigozie (2012), many agricultural development interventions tend to fail because of use of administrative methodologies or “Top-Down” approach. This “Top-Down” approach considers the beneficiaries as “objects” that need to be changed to a “better” situation. Instead of considering them as “agents” that also have roles to play in expressing their needs and, how they think the problem can be filled. The interventions therefore tend to fail because of ignoring the needs of the target group of agricultural development.
Teaching process consists of the strategies that the development agents combine to assess the beneficiaries while the learning is a process where the beneficiaries get the deeper understanding of the subject matter. Administrative methodology in a learning process is considered the teacher or facilitators centred methods which assume that, the learners (target groups) have no knowledge. The “Bottom-up” approach, on the other hand, takes into consideration students centred methods that take into consideration the knowledge of the target groups. There are different student centred methods wherein the role play, simulation and gaming are part of them (Chigozie, 2012). According to Reed (2008), participatory tools were developed in part as a response to the top-down, science-led transfer of technology paradigm.

The “Top-Down” and “Bottom-up” approaches are relevant theories of perception that are used as a process of acquiring and processing of information characterised by the direction of information flow. People’s perception became the central question in the communication theory in modern design, as well as, in the newest advanced technologies. The theories of Perception used to be mainly the domain of philosophers trying to explain their own knowledge. Nowadays, the centre of research is shifting away from a purely human dimension and they are becoming more scientifically technological utilitarian matter. However, working with adults, their point of views should be respected (Démuth, 2012; Richards, 2006)
According to Chigozie (2012), role playing allows the adult student to experience something which they are aware of, and it encourages active participation on the part of adult students. To reduce the failures of development interventions, institutions of rural development have applied participatory methods (such as: Participatory Technology Development, Participatory Rural Appraisal) that enhance the rural community to be the mentors of their social and economic development. The participatory methods emphasize the strengths of experimental capability of local community.

Over the years, participatory tools, such as role playing games have received criticisms because it is difficult to envision a direct impact of these tools on the natural and economic environment, once it is so difficult to link this kind of actions to changes in the state of environment. Thus, the objectives of participatory tools are targeted towards improving accommodation processes rather than measurable changes in state of the environment. However, participatory tools are useful for building a common perception in a situation of changing rules and resource allocation where there are always conflicting points of views (D’Aquino & Bah, 2011).

In Chókwè Irrigation Scheme, small farmers expressed difficulties to proceed to the maintenance of secondary and tertiary irrigation and canals drainage that they are supposed to take charge of due to limited financial capital and level of equipment (Maduma, cited by Eau4Food report 2012). The manager of the scheme (HICEP) has notably reassumed responsibility for cleaning secondary and tertiary canals and has acquired new machinery to do so. The acknowledgement of these difficulties led HICEP to reform recently the maintenance organization. HICEP has also prohibited the use of cattle inside the scheme although enforcement of the new rules is weak because, farmers say that outside the irrigated scheme, the cattle are being stolen.
In the light of the poor maintenance, farmers in the irrigated scheme lose their production due to excess water (bad drainage) or lack of water (watercourses blocked). Because of bad drainage, the floods cause salination of soil and reduce its farming capabilities. The farmers therefore, face difficulties to pay back bank loans contracted, reducing their access to future loans.

The aim of the study was to assess the perception of farmers about the appropriateness and practicability of role playing games after playing the games at the Chókwè Irrigation Scheme, Chókwè district, Mozambique. A game session is only part of a larger work with both the managers and the farmers concerning development of participatory planning for maintenance. The idea was to assess the farmer associations’ perceived appropriateness and practicability of the game on the maintenance of the irrigation scheme and then engage all actors in building their own plan of changes.....

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Item Type: Ghanaian Topic  |  Size: 125 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
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