In July, Javier Revilla Diez, Jim Kairu, Mary-Ellen Kimaro and Carolin Hulke conducted a joint University of Namibia – University of Cologne field school in the Zambezi Region, Namibia. Funded by the DAAD, eight Master students of the Institute of Geography, University of Cologne traveled to the Zambezi region and conducted research with Namibian students from UNAM Windhoek and Katima Mulilo Campus for two weeks. Attached to the sub-project C01 “Future in Chains” by Peter Dannenberg and Javier Revilla Diez, the overall objective of the field school was to identify potentials, challenges and conflicts of communal resource and land use in rural areas of Namibia. Together with the doctoral students Ewaldine Menjono Katjizeu and Jona Heita from UNAM Windhoek, the team jointly developed research questions, operationalised these in a mixed-methods approach and successfully applied the research design in hands-on fieldwork.
The students from Cologne, Katima Mulilo and Windhoek pursued the previously developed questions in four small groups. As part of a household survey, they visited around 200 residents from 15 different villages and asked about strategies for livelihood security, organisations and institutions that influence these strategies and how small farmers can benefit more from the global added value of their products. In addition, focus group discussions were held on all thematic blocks with the villagers, which had previously been organised by colleagues from UNAM Katima Mulilo. The lively participation in these discussions was due both to the competent translation of the Namibian students, who made it possible to overcome the language barrier, and to the sometimes controversial topics, which were discussed very openly. In addition, qualitative narrative and semi-structured interviews were conducted on the aspirations and wishes of the people of the region with regard to securing their livelihood and on the role of organisations and institutions.
The joint research project ended with a presentation of the preliminary results at a workshop held at UNAM Katima Mulilo. This lively event was attended not only by the participants of the focus group discussions but also by important stakeholders from regional organisations.
We would like to thank our partners at UNAM, Jim Kairu and Dr. Ekkehard Klingelhoeffer and Mary-Ellen Kimaro, Ewaldine Menjono Katjizeu and Jona Heita for the fruitful and ongoing cooperation and the successful field school. We all have learned a lot from this experience and made new friends!
by Mascha Aring & Carolin Hulke