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Title: Donkeys and compost : intermediate transport and soil fertility management in northern Ghanaian livelihoods
Author: Bellwood-Howard, Imogen
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2013
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Sustainable livelihoods comprise complex interactions between diverse practices, facilitated by different capital use systems. Soil Fertility Management (SFM) is one such practice. Savanna farmers use organic and inorganic soil amendments. Although a strategy integrating both is most sustainable, compost use is limited by poor access to vehicles with which to carry it. This interdisciplinary study examines how SFM interacts with transport in northern Ghanaian maize smallholders’ livelihoods. It asks how farmers could best transport compost and compares compost to fertiliser. It considers which of the five capitals described in the livelihoods framework facilitates the most appropriate SFM and transport strategies. Extending the livelihoods model, those capitals and their sources are linked to different development systems, based on capitalist, statist, participatory and traditional ideologies. Sixty farmers in two villages compared six modes of transport and the capital use systems under which they were accessed. Thirty of them similarly compared compost and fertiliser. Strong sustainability was highly relevant as crops grown with water retentive organic fertilisers consistently outperformed those fertilised inorganically. Wealthier farmers could purchase fertiliser, implying the capitalist paradigm, but most joined participatory groups through which they obtained subsidised fertiliser on credit: a mixture of participatory and state systems. Ability to use compost, however, was controlled by vehicle access. The best carriage system involved donkey carts, which were larger and could be used almost all day, and bicycles, owned by most farmers. Vehicle access was easiest when richer individuals owned large vehicles and hired or lent them to peers, combining capitalist and traditional systems. A second strategy was useful when no one in the community had enough money to purchase a vehicle. This involved participatory group ownership of large vehicles, supplemented by ownership of small vehicles that could be used at the owners’ convenience. Different systems gave access to fertiliser and transport because different contexts surrounded each. Not everyone can afford to buy fertiliser, which is a subtractable good; whereas vehicles, which are less subtractable, are increasingly available to richer individuals. The unique contribution of this thesis is to demonstrate that different access mechanisms to sustainable livelihood activities are appropriate in various contexts. However, the most successful always involve a mixture of modes or systems.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available