1 Shakazahn

Critical Systems Heuristics Case Study

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Using critical systems heuristic

Three NRUA ('Natural Resource-Use Appraisal') projects were evaluated as part of a wider study exploring participatory planning for rural development in Botswana. The NRUA-Botswana study remains one of the most detailed case studies in the use of critical systems heuristics (CSH) for evaluating development practices. CSH is a toolbox comprising four sets of questions evaluating (1) built-in values, (2) power structures, (3) expert assumptions, and (4) the moral basis on which development intervention operates as considered from the perspective of both intended beneficiaries and victims. Applying CSH in the NRUA-Botswana study helped to (i) reveal the systemic limitations of the NRUA projects with regard to claims of being holistic and inclusive; (ii) prompt a critical awareness among those involved in participatory development projects such as NRUA as to what interests were given prominence and which others were marginalized; and (iii) suggest ways in which "participatory" planning might be systemically improved to incorporate more responsible professional intervention.

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