Three women researchers from Ghana and Nigeria are the proud winners of this year’s Peter Berck’s Best Discussion Paper Award. Nkechi S. Owoo, Monica Lambon-Quayefio, and Ebele Amaechina were recognized for their research on the role of social networks in the diffusion and adoption of soil conservation practices over space and time in Nigeria.
The results can be useful for targeting necessary interventions and the study is expected to feed into the knowledge base for directing actions and programs to promote soil conservation in Nigeria.
Nkechi Owoo, the lead investigator said, “An important element of this project was engaging with several stakeholders in Nigeria's agricultural and natural resources space. This ensured that the contributions of non-academic actors and practitioners in the country were taken into consideration and incorporated in the research.”
She acknowledged the Environment for Development (EfD) Initiative for the technical and financial support, which she described as critical to the success of this study.
Nkechi Owoo and co-investigators, Monica Lambon-Quayefio and Ebele Amaechina shared some practical tips that helped them in their cross-country research collaboration.
Good coordination and continued communication between team members were critical, especially since investigators were from different countries. It also helped that each member of the team contributed their own unique strengths to the successful implementation of the project. These ranged from strengths in literature review to quantitative analyses and even skills in the organization of successful stakeholder engagement. Finally, an environment of mutual respect and a shared commitment to high-quality work was key to ensuring that the project was smoothly executed, and professional relationships maintained.
The use of simplified research questions and a visually appealing methodology played a positive role. Also, going beyond the use of traditional econometric methodologies to include spatial techniques in the presentation of the findings was very helpful during the validation workshop. This combination made it easy for the policymakers to understand the research which led to several useful inputs, thus strengthening the paper. In addition, the support from the leadership of the two EfD centers – EfD Ghana and EfD Nigeria -- from the beginning to the end of the project played a critical role in the timely completion of all deliverables.
Right from proposal development, we worked as a team and everyone contributed to all aspects of the project. This was significant in helping everyone understand the research and focus on the agreed objectives. Working as a team was beneficial in other ways; we were able to exchange learning and hone our skills -- in writing, analytical thinking, research management, and stakeholder engagement – which in turn contributed to strengthening our confidence as researchers. We are grateful to EfD and SIDA for the opportunity to carry out this study, and to the EfD research team for selecting our work. This is a great motivation for us to keep pursuing excellence.
About their paper
Their paper, Exploring the evidence for inward diffusion of soil practices among farmers in Nigeria uses data from three waves of the World Bank’s Living Standards Measurement Survey for Nigeria to explore patterns, in terms of space and time, in farmers’ soil conservation adoption practices. The research also examined whether current soil conservation behaviors are affected by earlier adoption behaviors of farmers’ neighbors.
The findings suggest that conservation behaviors in 2015 were positively and significantly correlated with the conservation behaviors of neighbors in 2010 and 2012, and provide a basis for policies to promote the most effective information diffusion methods among farmers.
About the award
The award is given in memory of Professor Peter Berck, a founding member of the Research Board. He is the first editor of the Discussion Paper series and a mentor who took great pleasure in the achievements of young researchers
Click here for more on the Peter Berck’s Best Discussion Paper Award.
By: Vicentia Quartey