Building farmers? capacities for networking (Part I): Strengthening rural groups in Colombia through network analysis.


  • Boru Douthwaite
  • Andrea Carvajal
  • Sophie Alvarez
  • Elías Claros
  • Luis Alfredo Hernández


knowledge managment, social network analysis, rural groups, network mapping, Colombia


This paper (Part I) present a case study of work conducted by the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) to adapt network mapping techniques to a rural and developing country context. It reports on work in Colombia to develop a prototype network diagnosis tool for use by service providers who work to strengthen small rural groups. Drawing network maps helped group members to: develop a clearer sense of identity and a clearer idea of the benefit of being in a group; clarify and communicate their contributions to their community; identify internal group management issues; and, clarify their strategy towards funding raising and seeking support from outside. We, the researchers, benefited from a better understanding of group functions and motivations. Comparing ratios of internal to external network links allowed us to assess relative levels of bonding, linking and bridging social capital. Subsequent participatory analysis and discussion of these maps built the capacity of group members to strengthen their networks. Research is ongoing to test whether computer-based SNA is simple and practical enough to be used by rural service providers.