Integrating Catchment Ecosystems and Community Health: The Value of Participatory Action Research

18 March 2004

par Web Team

Understanding links between catchment management and community health demands consideration of complex bio-physical, socio-economic, and public health relationships. These relationships cut across a spectrum of health, environment and development considerations and highlight the need for appropriate and integrative modes of inquiry and decision making. What can Participatory Action Research (PAR) contribute towards achieving an integrated approach to catchment management and community health issues? In addition to a methodological overview of Participatory Action Research, this paper reviews other participatory, community, action, and ecosystems-based methods. Commonalities in principles and methods are highlighted across a number of fields of research and practice including rural and community development, public health and health promotion, natural resource management, environmental health, and integrated ecosystem-based approaches. Lessons learned from application of Participatory Action Research are described in relation to a catchment and community health project, based in the Taieri River catchment, New Zealand. The case study emphasizes the importance of both horizontal and vertical connections between diverse coalitions of catchment stakeholders and the contribution of PAR cycles of inquiry, reflection, and action, toward this type of integration. Both generic and location- specific examples highlight the value of participatory methods that respond to the challenge of how to integrate the complex social and bio-physical processes that characterize human and ecosystem health.

Web Team

P.S. source : Natural Resource Management Programme Website