Methodology (1994)

    This document has been made available in electronic format
         by the International Co-operative Alliance ICA 
                         September, 1994

          (Source:  Report of a Study Commissioned by ICA
          Europe - Co-operative Adjustment in a Changing
          Environment in Sub-Saharan Africa - p.16)


The present study is based on the following logic. While the
initial interest by ICA-Europe focused on resource mobilization,
it was considered necessary to review the situation of the co-
operatives in Africa and discuss how resources, if successfully
mobilized, ought to be used. Hence, in consultation with
ICA-Europe the study was designed to review the present changes
in the environment of co-operatives in Africa and the impact of
these changes. Subsequently, the situation of the co-operatives
and their capacity to respond to the challenges posed by external
change was to be reviewed as a basis for formulating a strategy
for co-operative development. The role of donor assistance could
then be defined within such a broader framework, and finally,
resource mobilization strategies would be elaborated. The
analysis and the report are based on this structure.

A literature review was undertaken as a first step. However, it
is noteworthy that the issues on which this study focuses are
seldom treated in the literature, including memos, workshop
reports and similar documents from within the movements. A list
of references is given in appendix 1.

The primary source of information for this study is the
experience and observations made by the authors themselves over
the years complemented in the following important ways.

A network of some fifty individuals and organizations was
established. This network was used to elicit comments on draft
documents prepared at different stages of the analysis.

A three day consultation with cooperators from four West African
countries was arranged under the auspices of ICA-West Africa to
discuss a draft of the report. Furthermore, the report in draft
form was presented to the Regional Assembly for Africa in Nairobi
in September. A full day was allocated to a seminar on the report
which was discussed in working groups and in plenary sessions.

Through these means the arguments and conclusions in the present
report have been subject to a very wide exposure and critical
review by co-operative donor agencies (and also ILO and FAO), co-
operative organizations and cooperators in Africa as well as by
scholars and practitioners in the field of co-operative
development. Important comments on previous drafts are reflected
in the present final version of the report.

It is noteworthy that cooperators in Africa as well as in the
North have demonstrated a basic agreement with the fundamental
arguments and conclusions in the report. This gives considerable
confidence that the analysis is relevant.  Yet, the study has a
number of notable limitations. The empirical base is limited,
particularly with respect to West Africa. The study focuses on
agricultural co-operatives only as a deliberate limitation due
to resource constraints.

Furthermore, it has been necessary to make generalizations which
fail to reflect the great diversity of situations of African co-
operatives. It can rightly be argued that there are co-operatives
and situations which are far more positive and promising than
what is presented here. Acknowledging this, we would still argue
that the analysis is representative of a majority of co-
operatives in Africa.