Traditional Authority Applied Research Network


What is TAARN?


The purpose of TAARN is to bring together researchers, government and non-government policy-makers and chiefs (i.e. traditional authority practitioners) in order to discuss selected major policy questions so as to produce results.

TAARN is thus a network of those concerned with applying research on chiefs to various development issues.

This applied research network promotes communications on these development issues by electronic, print and face-to-face means.


TAARN's major project is the IDRC-funded project entitled "Traditional Leaders and Local Governance in Social Policy in West and Southern Africa". This project involves researchers and policy practitioners from Ghana, Botswana, South Africa and the University of Calgary.

The specific objectives of this project are to:

a) Identify and analyze the traditional values that affect social policy processes in the areas of land tenure, health and education, including those related to gender and conflict resolution, allocation and pooling of resources, and access to services;

b) Identify the autonomous traditional authority structures inside and outside the state structure in order to examine what role they play in the social policy process put in place by the state;

c) Identify ways in which traditional values, traditional structures and community participation can be incorporated into social policy processes put in place by the state in order to enhance the responsiveness, effectiveness and equity of selected social policies;

d) Conduct a comparative analysis among the selected countries in order to identify the nature and the effect of the diverse contributions of traditional values and authority structures in social policy processes;

e) Make policy recommendations and disseminate the results of the project.

This project will build capacity in information technology skills as well as in participatory, interdisciplinary, applied and gender research approaches. All the stakeholders (i.e. researchers, traditional leaders, state policy makers / implementers, community members) will be meaningfully involved in the research process at the appropriate strategic moments. Knowledge and results derived from the research will not only be of interest to the academic community but will also be applied to practical solutions.

Direct beneficiaries of this project will be social policy makers and service providers in the public, private and traditional sectors who will have a better understanding of the role (present and potential) of traditional values and structures within social policy. They will thus be better equipped to design responsive, effective and equitable social polices. Other direct and indirect beneficiaries include, but are not limited to, traditional leaders, state officials, political leaders, community leaders, marginal groups such as women and the rural poor, the community at large and donor organizations.