Paul Richards

Paul Richards
Njala University · School of Environmental Sciences

BSc, MA, PhD

About

200
Publications
23,705
Reads
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5,701
Citations
Citations since 2017
19 Research Items
1629 Citations
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2017201820192020202120222023050100150200250
2017201820192020202120222023050100150200250
2017201820192020202120222023050100150200250
Additional affiliations
January 2014 - present
Njala University
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
January 1993 - April 2015
Wageningen University & Research
Position
  • Head of Department
October 1980 - September 2006
University College London
Position
  • Professor of Anthropology
Description
  • Head of Department 1990-92, Professor 1992-2006, Honorary Professor 2006-

Publications

Publications (200)
Article
Full-text available
Ebola Virus Disease struck Sierra Leone in May 2014. An international response was instrumental in ending the epidemic by December 2015 and has been extensively documented. Less attention has been paid to local responses. Here, we focus on a case in which there was no infection despite high infection in neighbouring areas. This brings into focus th...
Article
Full-text available
Global debates about vaccines as a key element of pandemic response and future preparedness in the era of Covid-19 currently focus on questions of supply, with attention to global injustice in vaccine distribution and African countries as rightful beneficiaries of international de-regulation and financing initiatives such as COVAX. At the same time...
Article
Full-text available
This article shares findings on COVID-19 in Africa across 2020 to examine concepts and practices of epidemic preparedness and response. Amidst uncertainties about the trajectory of COVID-19, the stages of emergency response emerge in practice as interconnected. We illustrate how complex dynamics manifest as diverse actors interpret and modify appro...
Chapter
This chapter offers a summary account of the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone 2014–2015, paying particular attention to local level response. The role of social and cultural factors in both supporting and hindering medical response to the disease is discussed. Local public authority was important in determining the success of response efforts. A less...
Article
Full-text available
This paper explores the role of decentralised community-based care systems in achieving sustainable healthcare in resource-poor areas. Based on case studies from Sierra Leone, Madagascar, Uganda and Ethiopia, the paper argues that a community-based system of healthcare is more effective in the prevention, early diagnosis, and primary care in respon...
Article
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Rural‐based insurgencies disrupted the forest margins of Upper West Africa in the 1990s. A subsequent return to peace was accompanied by strong growth in small‐scale trade in foodstuffs and other agrarian produce in high demand in towns. Motor cycle taxis are a feature of this increased rural–urban market integration. It was a mode of transport pio...
Article
Full-text available
Access to transport is essential for agrarian development in isolated rural areas. Over the last 20 years, most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have seen a dramatic change in farm-to-market transport following the introduction and spread of motorcycle taxis. So far, this has been a spontaneous and market-driven phenomenon. What kind of infrastructu...
Article
Full-text available
Background Concern has been expressed over how well Africa is prepared to cope with the pandemic of Covid-19. Will rural populations with low levels of education know how to apply community-based infection control? We undertook fieldwork in two villages in central Sierra Leone to gain insight into how rural people faced with Covid-19 assess epidemi...
Article
During the 2014-2015 Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, people were required by law to call a trained "safe burial" team to dispose of the body of a person who had died from Ebola. It took days for a team to arrive, however, due to limited resources and rural travel obstacles, so some villagers felt obliged to bury their loved ones themselves. Even wi...
Article
In rural Liberia and Sierra Leone about half of motorcycle taxi passengers are female, with this proportion increasing on market days. However, all motorcycle taxi operators in rural areas are male. This study assessed if and how motorcycle taxis have contributed to the livelihoods of rural women and whether there is appetite among them to become o...
Chapter
Agrarian transformations have been an important part of the story of economic development all over the world. This book began by posing a question: Why have agrarian opportunities not contributed more to poverty alleviation in sub-Saharan Africa? We focused on a case-study region—the forest margins of Upper West Africa—because we wanted to set asid...
Chapter
We discuss customary institutional arrangements governing the mobilization and allocation of production factors. This includes a description of agricultural production in West Africa, followed by an in-depth discussion of how institutions interlink with the allocation and accumulation of land, labour, and capital. Social bonds play an important rol...
Chapter
This chapter is based on ongoing projects in the region. It considers the “clashing of institutions” paradigm in more detail. We assess four case studies. We look at how the expansion of commercial agrarian activity impacts the enclave rural community and study the impact of a large-scale agrarian direct foreign investment project in biofuels in ru...
Book
This book argues that development strategies have thus far failed in Western Africa because the many challenges afflicting the area have yet to be explored and understood from the perspective of institutional resources. With a particular focus on three countries on the bend of the Upper West African coast – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – this b...
Chapter
The West African context provides examples of each of the four “cells” of the fourfold institutional ordering proposed by Mary Douglas. We highlight distinctive features of the different types of institutions, based on a brief fourfold characterization of West African communities: hunters and gatherers on a forest frontier (“isolate ordering”), far...
Chapter
Chieftaincy is a key institutional feature in Upper West Africa. We discuss how various levels of chiefs serve as brokers between all four of elementary institutional orderings. Especially, chieftaincy links the formal government hierarchy and the village enclave. We provide both a historical and contemporary account of chiefs and delve into their...
Chapter
Institutions should not be viewed with simplistic qualifications of “good” and “poor.” Instead, careful attention is needed to where institutions come from and how they change. This includes reflecting on our own viewpoints and a need to shift our focus from a snapshot picture to a dynamic and “bottom-up” one. Douglas’ fourfold institutional orderi...
Chapter
This chapter provides a short review of current debates about institutions, focusing on the economist’s and the anthropologist’s perspective. We start with narratives by economists on the origins and evolution of institutions (e.g. transaction costs and efficiency, the struggle between different social groups). We then augment the conventional focu...
Article
This article offers an overview of social worlds, values, and material and nonmaterial cultures of the region south of the Sahara from Mauritania to Cameroon. Attention is paid, in particular, to modes of social solidarity and the cultural dynamics of community formation in West African settings.
Article
This study analyzed the morphological characteristics and agronomic potentials of yam varieties (Dioscorea spp.) collected across the Guinea Sudan transition zone of Benin. Dioscorea cayenensis - D. rotundata varieties were characterized as wingless; some varieties were spineless, others had few or dense, robust or thin, and short or prickled spine...
Article
This chapter offers an account of the introduction of Carolina rice to communities surrounding the abolitionist settlement at Sierra Leone from the end of the eighteenth century. The abolitionists sought to encourage cultivation of rice with white pericarp, since this was thought to be more acceptable in export markets. Carolina rice was white. Mos...
Chapter
On the Upper West Africa coast rice belongs to two species — African rice (Oryza glaberrima Steud.) and Asian rice (Oryza sativa L.). African rice was domesticated in the region, perhaps three millennia ago, from a presumed wild ancestor, O. barthii. Asian rice was introduced via trans-Saharan and/or Atlantic trade routes, and belongs to one of two...
Article
Full-text available
We assessed the interplay of artificial and natural selection in rice adaptation in low-input farming systems in West Africa. Using 20 morphological traits and 176 molecular markers, 182 farmer varieties of rice (Oryza spp.) from 6 West African countries were characterized. Principal component analysis showed that the four botanical groups (Oryza s...
Chapter
Full-text available
This book provides a comprehensive overview of the rice sector in Africa and the ongoing rice research and development activities in the region. Specific topics are classified under the following headings: overview of rice in Africa (chapters 1-4), rice genetic diversity and improvement (chapters 5-14), sustainable productivity enhancement (chapter...
Chapter
Although this book project focuses on crop development to meet the challenges posed by climate and climate change we need to recognise that climate is but one of several interlinked factors, which bear on crop productivity and food security. Population increase, demographic changes, resource depletion and loss of agricultural land all combine with...
Chapter
The definition adopted for land conflicts includes territorial conflicts and conflicts over the use of mineral and forest resources. Three types of violent land conflicts are identified and analysed for West Africa: agro-pastoral conflicts, inter-communal agrarian struggles, and forest frontier conflicts. Policy and judicial administration weakness...
Article
Full-text available
This study offers evidence of the robustness of farmer rice varieties (Oryza glaberrima and O. sativa) in West Africa. Our experiments in five West African countries showed that farmer varieties were tolerant of sub-optimal conditions, but employed a range of strategies to cope with stress. Varieties belonging to the species Oryza glaberrima - sole...
Article
Witchcraft has been documented across the globe. The widespread occurrence of such beliefs in modern Africa affects politics, economic development, and poverty alleviation. Anthropologists have analysed the semiotics of African witchcraft, but there is less information on distributional issues. An important question is which communities are most af...
Chapter
This book provides a comprehensive overview of the rice sector in Africa and the ongoing rice research and development activities in the region. Specific topics are classified under the following headings: overview of rice in Africa (chapters 1-4), rice genetic diversity and improvement (chapters 5-14), sustainable productivity enhancement (chapter...
Article
A participatory diagnostic study of the oil palm (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.) seed system (OPSS) was conducted along a gradient of rainfall and distance to the oil palm research centre across the oil palm growing belt of Benin. The objective was to identify, jointly with key actors, the constraints in the OPSS and to assess the performance of the OPSS...
Article
The Adja plateau (Benin) is densely populated by tenant and landowner farmers engaged in oil palm based cropping. Landowners use oil palm sap for the production of sodabi (a local spirit), and an oil palm fallow (if no crops are grown beneath the palms) to restore soil fertility. In this area, growing oil palm for its oil is uncommon. Tenants acces...
Article
Full-text available
Rice breeding and crop research predominantly emphasize adaptation to ecological conditions. Based on qual-itative and quantitative research conducted between 2000 and 2012 we show how ecological factors, combined with socio-economic variables, cultural norms and values, shape the use and development of local technologies related to the cultiva-tio...
Article
Full-text available
Four on-farm experiments in central Benin examined whether land-use succession and fertilizer treatments for prior cotton would sustain subsequent maize crop yields and achieve balanced plant nutrition. Treatments consisted of three prior land use successions, i.e. before planting maize (egusi melon-cotton-cottonmaize, cotton-maize-cotton-maize and...
Article
KEENANJEREMY, The Dark Sahara: America's War on Terror in Africa. London and New York NY: Pluto Press (pb £16 – 978 0 745 32452 4). 2009, 296 pp. - Volume 82 Issue 3 - PAUL RICHARDS
Article
Full-text available
A participatory diagnostic study of the oil palm (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.) seed system (OPSS) was conducted along a gradient of rainfall and distance to the oil palm research centre across the oil palm growing belt of Benin. The objective was to identify, jointly with key actors, the constraints in the OPSS and to assess the performance of the OPSS...
Article
Jeremy Keenan is an anthropologist of the Tuareg, but The Dark Sahara is more the work of an investigative reporter seeking an audience of concerned global citizens. The book purports to show how the White House under George W. Bush ramped up a largely fictitious Saharan ‘terrorist’ threat as part of the War on Terror. The underlying objective was...
Article
Full-text available
Although the concept of the apprenticeship seems to be universal, its institutional form and status differ around the world. This article discusses informal apprenticeship training as it occurs among car mechanics in the informal industrial complex of the Suame Magazine, Kumasi, Ghana. Using on-site research and theories of social learning and mate...
Article
Full-text available
In areas with less favourable conditions for agriculture, informal seed systems permit gene flow through pollen to play a crucial role in the development of new varieties. An important factor with great impact on cross-pollination is the plant breeding system, but so far this is little studied within the context of low-input farming systems. This r...
Article
Full-text available
Was the civil war in Sierra Leone (1991-2002) fought for diamonds, or was it a peasant insurgency motivated by agrarian grievances? The evidence on both sides is less than conclusive. This article scrutinizes the peasant insurgency argument via a more rigorous methodology. Hypotheses concerning intra-peasant tensions over marriage and farm labour a...
Article
The bulk of analysis and commentary on violent conflicts in developing countries over the past 20 years or so has neglected the dynamics and tensions of agrarian political economy. Introducing a special issue devoted to these agrarian dimensions of armed conflict, non-war violence and post-war repertoires of political mobilization, this paper argue...
Article
This paper assesses the extent to which customary governance in Sierra Leone can be held responsible for an increasingly unstable two-class agrarian society. A case is made for regarding the civil war (1991–2002) as being an eruption of long-term, entrenched agrarian tensions exacerbated by chiefly rule. Evidence is presented to suggest that the ma...
Article
Full-text available
It is widely recognized that mineral fertilizers must play an important part in improving agricultural productivity in western Kenyan farming systems. This paper suggests that for this goal to be realized, farmers’ knowledge must be strengthened to improve their understanding of fertilizers and their use. We analyzed smallholder knowledge of fertil...
Article
Summary Many accounts of cultural factors in armed conflicts are dependent on circumstantial details. Alternative quantitative approaches suffer from confusion of correlation and cause. This paper describes and exemplifies a third approach to the analysis of cultural factors in war--causal process tracing. Six key steps in implementing causal proce...
Article
Full-text available
A participatory diagnostic study of the oil palm (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.) seed system (OPSS) was conducted along a gradient of rainfall and distance to the oil palm research centre across the oil palm growing belt of Benin. The objective was to identify, jointly with key actors, the constraints in the OPSS and to assess the performance of the OPSS...
Article
Was the civil war in Sierra Leone (1991–2002) fought for diamonds, or was it a peasant insurgency motivated by agrarian grievances? The evidence on both sides is less than conclusive. This article scrutinizes the peasant insurgency argument via a more rigorous methodology. Hypotheses concerning intra-peasant tensions over marriage and farm labour a...
Article
Those who intervene in crises must take care to ensure that assistance does not undermine the processes through which social cohesion is generated or restored. From a neo-Durkheimian analytical perspective, feeding creates social loyalties as well as saves lives. Humanitarian agencies provide practical assistance to livelihoods, but they need also...
Article
Full-text available
In West Africa two rice species (Oryza glaberrima Steud. and Oryza sativa L.) co-exist. Although originally it was thought that interspecific hybridization is impossible without biotechnological methods, progenies of hybridization appear to occur in farmer fields. AFLP analysis was used to assess genetic diversity in West Africa (including the coun...
Data
Overview of the 315 investigated rice samples and their assignment to the four observed clusters by the software Structure. (0.64 MB DOC)
Article
Ethnicity—once the preserve of anthropologists and folklorists studying disappearing tribal and peasant cultures—has become an important element in the models and explanations of a broader community of social scientists seeking to comprehend post-Cold War social disorder. But is ethnicity equivalent to variables such as resource competition or pove...
Article
It is argued that even the most elaborate social surveys in the development field are one-sided, in that they answer their sponsors' questions, and not those of the people surveyed. Rapid Rural Appraisal has no methodological sophistication in which to cloak this one-sidedness. This is no disadvantage, however, for not only does RRA focus attention...
Article
The scope and limitations of farmers' knowledge concerning agricultural pests is illustrated in a case study. The process of knowledge formation is a consequence of the kinds of observation the farmer is able to make. Inaccuracies may stem from observational limitations. On the other hand, the farmer's own point of view reflects dimensions of exper...
Article
Global electronic information (including the ‘information’ young people derive from fictional television images) are facts of life on the periphery as well as in the metropolis. There are now no longer any truly remote localities. Global media images, by revealing to those living in isolated places in what ways they are part of a greater scheme of...
Article
Postwar countries in Africa are among the poorest. In the countries of the Mano River region (Liberia, Sierra Leone) agrarian injustice emerges as a major cause of both poverty and conflict. Serious efforts are needed to improve the labour, land and property rights of rural women and young people if the long-term causes of these conflicts are to be...
Article
Full-text available
A challenge for African countries is how to integrate new sources of knowledge on plant genetics with knowledge from farmer practice to help improve food security. This paper considers the knowledge content of farmer seed systems in the light of a distinction drawn in artificial intelligence research between supervised and unsupervised learning. Su...
Article
Preferences of traders and consumers for different yam varieties were analysed in Benin. Prices varied by variety, showing that the market valued distinct crop traits differently. These varietal price differentials were present throughout the year and across years. The use for which each variety was appreciated, was the most important factor determ...
Article
Full-text available
This paper examines agrarian issues in civil wars in Côte d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone. Attention is paid to two different ways in which lineage society evolved during the colonial and post-colonial periods. The motivations of fighters are related to these different trajectories of agrarian social change. In Côte d’Ivoire youth militia fought to uphol...
Article
Farmers' perceptions of earthworm activities were studied in the transitional zone of Benin and linked to scientific explanations of earthworm casting activities. Earthworm activity was assessed in farmers' fields with three different cassava cultivars and in a field experiment with three different egusi melon species. The experiment included plots...
Article
Farmers' perceptions of earthworm activities were studied in the transitional zone of Benin and linked to scientific explanations of earthworm casting activities. Earthworm activity was assessed in farmers' fields with three different cassava cultivars and in a field experiment with three different egusi melon species. The experiment included plots...
Article
The aim of this paper was to understand the process of selecting soybean (Glycine max [L.] Merr.) promiscuous varieties by smallholders for soil fertility management in western Kenya. Eight varieties were screened on 2.5 m × 3 m plots that were managed according to farmers’ practices and evaluated through participatory monitoring and evaluation app...
Article
. Different Kind of War Story. Carolyn Nordstrom. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997. 254 pp.
Article
Full-text available
Une comparaison Côte d’Ivoire-Sierra Leone. Quelle est la place de la dimension agraire dans les guerres civiles récentes en Afrique de l’Ouest ? La comparaison entre deux régions de pays en conflit (le centre-ouest de la Côte d’Ivoire et l’est de la Sierra Leone) indique que les jeunes mobilisés proviennent de groupes marginalisés dans les institu...
Article
The agrarian roots of West African rebellions What is the weight of agrarian issues in recent civil wars in West Africa ? A comparison between two regions of countries in conflict (West Central Côte d‘Ivoire and Eastern Sierra Leone) indicates that the youth who took part to the war belong to groups that have been marginalised in the local agrarian...
Article
Full-text available
"This paper analyses sorghum contract farming in north-east Ghana in order to explore ways of making such arrangements viable for small farmers. The analysis draws on the convergence of sciences approach, which sees both science and social relations interactions among the relevant stakeholders) as important for developing small farmer-relevant agri...
Article
Incl. abstract, tabl., bibl. Participation is considered an important tool of development. Two mechanisms of participation are distinguished - deliberative and performative. Deliberative participation is vulnerable to capture by elites. A post-war agricultural reconstruction project in Sierra Leone experimented with a performative approach to parti...
Article
Although there has been increasing research on the adoption of agroforestry technologies over the last decade, few such studies have assessed uptake over a long period and many are based on a single snapshot in time. Furthermore, most of these studies have mainly looked at non-adopters and adopters: only recently have social scientists considered t...
Article
Full-text available
The PAU programme The Technology & Agrarian Development Group, Wageningen University is investigating the achievements of participatory approaches to agrarian development and rural poverty alleviation, with a view to identifying the potential for and limitations to upscaling or out-scaling such approaches. One of its programmes, the programme on Pa...
Article
Full-text available
Tenure arrangements were studied in central Benin, with special attention to factors diminishing or enhancing mutual trust between landowners and migrant farmers. Two contrasting tenure arrangement systems occur. The first is found in Ouoghi village, where landowners and villagers are organized around the Association de Développement Economique et...
Article
The need for an appropriate research strategy to build upon the knowledge of sorghum farmers in north-east Ghana in terms of diversity management and variety maintenance was identified in a previous diagnostic study. A joint experimental framework was established to encourage interaction between the knowledge systems of farmers and scientists. The...
Article
Full-text available
Yam and cowpea are important elements in the food culture of local communities in the Transitional Guinea-Sudan Zone of Benin. Yam and cowpea serve to satisfy vital needs in households and in communities, but also play an essential role in the rituals and ceremonies of the agrarian civilizations of Benin. The diversity of rituals, food habits, tech...
Article
Full-text available
Tenure arrangements were studied in central Benin, with special attention to factors diminishing or enhancing mutual trust between landowners and migrant farmers. Two contrasting tenure arrangement systems occur. The first is found in Ouoghi village, where landowners and villagers are organized around the Association de Développement Economique et...
Article
Full-text available
Although there’s increasing emphasis on farmer-led extension in rural development, very few studies have been done to understand the social processes involved. This study was undertaken to identify farm and farmer characteristics that may influence dissemination of seed and knowledge of improved fallows and biomass transfer, to whom, how and what i...
Article
The Convergence of Sciences programme (CoS) addresses the sub-optimal impact of science on the livelihoods of resource-poor farmers in West Africa, particularly in Benin and Ghana where it operates. CoS aims to develop insights into the pathways through which investment in science and technology can improve rural lives. To this end, CoS features pa...
Article
Rebels and Intellectuals in Sierra Leone's Civil War Paul Richards Wageningen University and Research Centre Wageningen, The Netherlands Ibrahim Abdullah, ed. Between Democracy and Terror: The Sierra Leone Civil War. Dakar: CODESRIA, 2004. Distributed by African Books Collective Ltd., Unit 13 Kings Meadow, Ferry Hinksey Rd., Oxford OX2 0DP, UK. x +...
Article
Rights and the Politics of Recognition in Africa edited by H. ENGLUND and F. B. NYAMNJOH London: Zed Books, 2004. Pp. 293. £18.95 (pbk.). - - Volume 44 Issue 1 - PAUL RICHARDS
Article
The Convergence of Sciences programme (CoS) addresses the sub-optimal impact of science on the livelihoods of resource-poor farmers in West Africa, particularly in Benin and Ghana where it operates. CoS aims to develop insights into the pathways through which investment in science and technology can improve rural lives. To this end, CoS features pa...
Article
Full-text available
The paper analyses farmer coping strategies under war-time conditions in Sierra Leone in order to identify why food-insecure farmers continue to value African Rice. African Rice has an important association with 'sokoihun' (forest enclaves). These enclaves - written in the history of the landscape - became once again important as war swept over rur...