A key innovation strategy is the use of the (KAP) methodology. This project is one of the first in North America to use Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices (KAP) pilots for water quality, and the first ever KAP study for shoreland buffers. Since originating in the 1930s in Asia, KAP has spread globally and is routinely used to plan and evaluate health, education, water quality and sanitation projects worldwide, but is little known in the US.
The use of KAP addresses a major gap in conventional project design. The "business as usual" approach has been to offer incentives (rebate, cost-share, technical assistance, workshops, awards) to local audiences to get them to adopt a recommended Best Management Practice (BMP). Most water quality projects in Minnesota fail to do any social research on their intended audiences, assuming that all residents will respond in the same manner to a given incentive or conservation message. Most project managers are underinformed about their audiences, and rely on past experience and intuition to determine whether audiences are inclined or disinclined to participate and adopt a recommended BMP.
The results of this project to date demonstrate that utilizing social sciences methodologies as a means to improve the adoption of BMPs is not only viable, but very effective. Bringing this method to local conservation partners who already have successful implementation frameworks will substantially improve their success rate. It significantly changes the way that resource managers view the implementation of their projects. They need to:
- be specific about their target audience,
- discover more about the knowledge, attitudes and practices of their target audience with regard to the issue at hand,
- then design the incentive, message and method of implementation to meet the needs of their target audience.
KAP Process Structure
The process of selection was also innovative as the 22 project proposers (local units of government) were brought together in a pre-proposal workshop setting to learn more about target audience identification and the KAP process. From this workshop, participants developed proposals and submitted them to a review panel. This meeting resulted in 10 applications, of which 2 were selected - East Otter Tail SWCD and the Itasca Water Legacy Partnership/Itasca SWCD.