The Rockwool Foundation

The Rockwool Foundation is based in Denmark, and was established in 1981. It focuses on two main areas of activity:


  1. Research in socio-economic fields and on current problems challenging modern Western society and developing countries. The aims of this research are to improve the knowledge base for, and the quality of, public debate, and to provide a good foundation for decisions to be taken by politicians.

  2. Practical interventions, carried out with the purposes of generating knowledge and of developing models for lasting and sustainable improvements. The development projects have a strong focus on innovation, documentation, and the spreading of best practice.

The history of RIPAT

The RIPAT concept has been developed, implemented and refined in a series of projects over the period 2006-12 in a close partnership between the Rockwool Foundation and the Tanzanian NGO RECODA. The process has involved a continuous learning-by-doing process. The intention was to find sustainable, low cost solutions to the challenges faced by small-scale farmers by providing proper tools, techniques and information through a participatory "help to self-help" approach.


The story of RIPAT began with the Danish NGO PULS (Projekt Ulandshjælp til Selvhjælp). PULS was of the opinion that development assistance in Tanzania was often granted in a rather non-participatory manner, and that this reduced the chances of such assistance succeeding. In 2003 the Chair of PULS, Elly Vesterager, consulted RECODA as to how PULS could help poor communities to emerge from poverty in a sustainable way through the provision of ‘help to self-help’. This led to the first pilot project in 2003, which was sponsored by PULS and which targeted three villages in Arumeru district. In 2005 Tom Kähler, Chairman of the Rockwool Foundation, visited two of these three villages, and on the basis of this visit the Rockwool Foundation Board decided to sponsor a similar agricultural project covering eight villages in the eastern lowlands of the Mount Meru area. This was to be a partnership project involving RECODA, PULS and the Foundation. The first project was launched in 2006 under the name of RIPAT. In 2009 and 2010 additional RIPAT projects, RIPAT 2, 3 and 4, were started.


In 2009 we realized that there were indications that RIPAT was producing outcomes of note which deserved to be analysed and documented.


The book ‘Farmers’ choice – Evaluating an approach to agricultural technology adoption in Tanzania’ outlines the RIPAT intervention, and examines how effective it has been. This evaluation of RIPAT brings together analyses by economists, agricultural scientists and anthropologists who studied the impact, implementation, adoption and spread of the programme approaches.


An implementation manual has now been written on the basis of the RIPAT projects. The RIPAT Manual explains step-by-step how to organise and implement a robust, group-based agricultural development project.


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