Scott Graham Ortman

Grant Type

Workshop Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Colorado, Boulder, U. of

Grant number

Gr. CONF-868

Approve Date

October 7, 2021

Project Title

Ortman, Scott (Colorado, Boulder, U. of) "Climate Change, Environmental Degradation and Planning for Change: Initiative for Sustainable Development in Africa"

Consultation with local, indigenous, and descendant (LID) communities is a cornerstone of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) process. Anthropologists play a key role in ESIAs by conducting ethnographic interviews with LID community members, bringing their desires and concerns about development projects to government officials, lenders, project proponents for them to decide whether a project moves forward and under what conditions. In return for providing private information on their society and things sacred to them, including their heritage, LID communities expect to benefit from these projects, assuming the information they shared will remain private. Yet, all too often, projects are implemented in ways that harm LID communities, by taking land, water, and resources without providing anything of value in return. At times, government officials retaliate against LID communities for statements critical of those in power. Although anthropologists genuinely want to help LID communities, they are often the unwitting agents of the government or the project proponent. Why this harmful dynamic has evolved and what anthropologists can do about it will be examined within the context of East Africa. Eleven African and five international consulting anthropologists will analyze the problem through four topics: (1) the ethnographic process, (2) economic and political pressures, (3) communicating LID community concerns, and (4) ensuring project benefits to LID communities while protecting sensitive information.