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Family portraits in Mali, Kenya and Tanzania (PLA 53)

Katherine Cochrane

Journal article

The family portrait methodology provides a visual and written portrait of how a family sees itself within a broader environment. This article compares how this methodology was used with pastoralists in Mali between 2000 and 2002, and in Kenya and Tanzania in 2004. It describes how the methodology was adapted and refined for different objectives in different contexts, and concludes with some suggestions for facilitating and using the approach. Family portraits are tools for understanding and communicating how real families organise their labour and other assets to make a living. The process of making and sharing the family portrait has the capacity to take individual and family perspectives to the level of policy change.

Guest-editor: Sonja Vermeulen. This special issue of PLA comes from the Power Tools initiative which aimed to develop, test and circulate existing and new tools to bridge key gaps in policy processes and content. These policy tools – tips, tactics and approaches – provide practical help to people working to improve the policies and institutions that govern access to and use of natural resources.

Participatory Learning and Action (PLA, formerly PLA Notes) is the world's leading series on participatory learning and action approaches and methods. PLA publishes articles on participation aimed at practitioners, researchers, academics and activists. All articles are peer-reviewed by an international editorial board. See: www.planotes.org

Keywords: policy, natural resource management (NRM), community-based natural resource management (CBNRM), Power Tools.

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