Action research on alternative land tenure arrangements in Wenchi, Ghana: learning from ambiguous social dynamics and self-organized institutional innovation

Adjei-Nsiah, S.; Leeuwis, C.; Giller, K.E.; Kuyper, T.W.


This study reports on action research efforts that were aimed at developing institutional arrangements beneficial for soil fertility improvement. Three stages of action research are described and analyzed. We initially began by bringing stakeholders together in a platform to engage in a collaborative design of new arrangements. However, this effort was stymied mainly because conditions conducive for learning and negotiation were lacking. We then proceeded to support experimentation with alternative arrangements initiated by individual landowners and migrant farmers. The implementation of these arrangements too ran into difficulties due to intra-family dynamics and ambiguities regarding land tenure. Further investigations to find out how ambiguities could be tackled revealed that the local actors themselves had taken initiatives towards developing institutional innovations to reduce ambiguities. However, there is still considerable scope for further development of these self-organized innovations. The article ends with a reflection on inter-disciplinary action research, where it is argued that making ┬┐mistakes┬┐ is an inherent and necessary characteristic in action research that aims to address complex social issues