Jennifer Hauck asks: Who is actually `the community`?

When writing a contribution for a conference my colleague Eva Youkhana and I came across a number of authors who complain, that communities or target groups are usually homogenised. Villages are perceived to be entities, user groups, such as fishermen are grouped together based on their activities. During our research on rural water use and fisheries, we found indeed this homogenization process to be one of the main reasons why attempts to establish community based management fail. Ignoring the groups within the group does not only mean playing in the hands of those who are already strong, it can also mean increasing or even starting conflicts amongst users. However, many might argue that there is not always enough time to get to know the entire community. We believe that Net-Map can help to solve that problem in part. While it will certainly take some time to conduct interviews with people from different ends of the village, it is definitely worth the effort. In a yet relatively short time period it is possible to get an idea about the composition of the target group, its periphery, and kind of interactions, such as conflicts or reciprocities. Furthermore it provides an overview of actors that can or in fact have influence activities and those who only pretend. Thus Net-Map provides independent information to triangulate those derived from key informants, group discussions and other ways of community assessment.

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