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Development of a Participatory Method for Capturing Preferences of Andean Smallholders Regarding Urbanization

Andreas Haller and Florian Einsiedler
Mountain Research and Development
Vol. 35, No. 1 (Feb 2015), pp. 16-26
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Page Count: 11
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Development of a Participatory Method for Capturing Preferences of Andean Smallholders Regarding Urbanization
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In the tropical Andes, uncontrolled urban growth and the loss of agricultural land severely affect periurban smallholders who depend on the lease of farmland. In this context, the hinterland of Huancayo, Peru, represents a case in point, given that the urbanization of irrigated land resources on the valley floor endangers agricultural production during the dry season and thus forces agriculturalists to adapt their land use—a problem largely attributed to policy failures. If smallholder farmers had been policy-makers in the past, what type of urban growth would have taken place? Which future settlement structure would they prefer? To answer these questions, an easy-to-use and practice-oriented method for visualizing smallholder views on urbanization and landscape change was developed and tested. A combination of photomontage-based visualization exercises and interviews revealed that the interviewees mostly agreed that agricultural areas should remain between a mix of low and high buildings along the existing road. Hence, to a certain degree, their perception toward dispersed urban development seems not to be as negative as one could suppose. Additionally, some peasants argue that urban expansion should be on the steep and nonirrigated slopes adjacent to the city in order to conserve the fertile and irrigated land on the valley floor. Finally, the results of this study point to the potential of landscape visualizations for enabling mountain smallholders to participate in periurban land use planning and lead to the conclusion that photomontages, visualization exercises, and interviews should increasingly be used to improve understanding of smallholders' views, for this method includes an important emotional component that is rarely considered by planners and policy-makers.

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