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GonoGobeshona: Solving Adaptation Problems Collectively in Bangladesh

Sajid Raihan, of ActionAid Bangladesh,  recently sent me their climate change adaptation newsletter—Climation. Sajid is the Manager of Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction for ActionAid Bangladesh.

ActionAid Bangladesh started a new project a few years ago on promoting active citizenship through people's (participatory) research—or GonoGobeshona. For them, people's research is a process facilitating vulnerable people to come together and discuss their problems and identify their solutions; it is a means to empower themselves to analyze their own problems and think of possible solutions according to their knowledge and understanding.

The process begins with a participatory drawing of a social map indicating vulnerabilities, and the sources of vulnerabilities and disasters.

Upon completing a list, they prioritize one problem and analyze it using a Problem Tree where the root cause and outcomes of the problems can be identified. Then the team uses a Capacity Wheel To analyze the community's own capacity to implement solutions, identify areas where they require support, and to make a list of the institutions that they could get support from.

The end result of GonoGobeshona is the community's collective realization and ownership of the problem. GonoGobeshona enhances the communities capacity through active participation in the development process.

Says Sajid, "GGD members tend to have a bigger picture of what is happening, how, why, and their role as a community. One positive outcome is GonoGobeshona's effect on community members level of understanding of climate change and adaptation issues. Members of these groups tend to be highly motivated and manage time to sit together and find out a solution to their problems through participatory research; they must establish themselves as the drivers of their own development."

This newsletter also gave four examples of solutions to adaptation challenges including a micro-enterprise solution, the solution to a village's water scarcity, advocacy for gaining support, and the reopening of a community clinic.
The newsletter concludes with saying that the GonoGobeshona"process envisages a community's transformation from passive aid recipient to an informed proactive group of people who understands the dimensions of existing development challenge and possesses information, capacity, and the skills to tackle forthcoming uncertainties. They will welcome outside support but only if it aids in implementing their assessed solution and accept their role as think tank capable of thinking globally and acting locally."

I was very impressed when I read this newsletter because it clarifies many of my own thoughts about community-based adaptation to climate change. The writing is clear and the philosophy is very sound. I can't recommend this report enough. You can download Climation here.


Tim Magee
Executive Director

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The Center for Sustainable Development specializes in providing sound, evidence-based information, tools and training for humanitarian development professionals worldwide. CSDi is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Chris Enns' Community Takes Over Project in Tanzania

 Project of the Month: Chris Enns' Community Takes Over Project in Tanzania
The idea behind community-based adaptation—or any other community-based form of relief and development—is to engage the community in the project from the beginning so that they feel it is their project: they own it. During the project they participate in co-managing it, and they receive training in the components of the project that will continue after the NGO has left.

Simple examples of this would be the installation of a water system. The community should be engaged from the beginning in selecting the appropriate type of water system, its location, and its installation. This will not only generate their ownership of the system—but they will understand how it went together in case they need to fix it. The next stage would to be for the NGO to provide training in collecting water use fees, routine system maintenance, repair, and ideas on how to connect with a future expert in case they run into a problem.

In our courses OL 343 and 344 it takes approximately 6 months for course participants to go through this set of exercises with their community.
However, this wasn't the case for Canadian Chris Enns who is working with Christian Reformed World Relief Committee and their Tanzanian partner organization AICT in a remote community in rural Tanzania called Wagete. Chris is doing a "mainstreamed project"—he is incorporating adaptation to climate change activities into a traditional rural development project.

Charles Loleku describing the school dormitory.
So for example they have:
  • a healthcare component
  • an education component
  • a farmer soil and water conservation program (adaptation component)
  • a farmer conservation program (adaptation component)

You can read about their project and download two field reports with photographs.

They completed their basic community training workshops in December, but because of a few complications and a change of staff they weren't able to get back to the community for four months to complete the capacity building workshops and get on with the process of handing the project over to the community.

Chris was very surprised to return to the community in April because he discovered that they had finished most of the project! Chris says "In fact they had made so much progress that the work plan that we were going to initiate with them was no longer relevant as the community had progressed beyond the work plan".

He goes on to describe that based upon the brief training the community received from his organization on advocacy—they went to the District Medical Officer and requested support and a physician for their community. In the four months since they launched their advocacy campaign they now have a completely remodeled health facility and a physician!

Village agriculture officer sharing about new cassava crops planted with Chris's help.
The community then rallied to raise funds to build houses for teachers on school property, and a dormitory for young children that live to far a way . They were successful in completing the housing and dormitory and the school has three new full-time teachers and four new interns.

Last fall Chris's organization began with improved agricultural training that was meant to be followed up by further workshops—but with the basic training they received one farmer told him:

"Agriculture in Wagete this year is completely different from what it was last year. Last year many farmers would stand in one place and throw seeds across the field from their hips without understanding how to ensure that they entered the soil properly or were properly spaced out. As a result, harvests would be very poor. This year farmers are planting their crops and clear rows, with proper spacing, and the improved seed varieties are showing much improvement and drought resiliency over previous crops. Farmers are excited about their crops in Wagete, and that is what I am smiling about."

Chris asked the community what motivated them to carry on with the project on their own. The community leaders said that the discussions that Chris had with them in the workshops brought key issues to the surface and they started talking amongst themselves about how they could deal with them. The community decided that they were Wagete's problems, not Chris's organization's problems, so they should be the ones to tackle the problems themselves.

All that they had needed from Chris's organization was the motivation and some basic training on how to go to the District Medical Officer to request a doctor. Then, when they saw the condition of their school and wanted to improve that as well. They raised their own funds to build houses for the teachers and a dormitory for children.

Now that most of the project had been completed, the village management committee has not requested additional management training for their committee, and also additional training in improved agricultural practices such as conservation agriculture, composting, mulching, irrigation, and the use of improved seed varieties. Chris will begin working with them throughout the course of this year to grant this request.

Way to go Chris!

You can read about this latest accomplishment by downloading Chris's report from his last meeting with the community: OL 344 Enns Assignment 2.

If you would like to learn how to develop community-based projects like this simply visit our overview of our community based adaptation diploma. If you don't have access to a community—don't worry—we'll simply partner you with someone like Chris!

We look forward to working with you online.

Visit Online Learning to see a full listing of Sustainable, Impact-oriented, Community Based courses that begin on March 6.

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The Center for Sustainable Development specializes in providing sound, evidence-based information, tools and training for humanitarian development professionals worldwide. CSDi is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

The winner is! New July 10 elective course voted in by students

Last week I did a survey among students who have completed the four foundational courses for a Community-Based Adaptation to Climate Change diploma (OL 340).

By taking 4 extra electives, they can expand this diploma into an Integrated DRR, CBA and Rural Development Diploma (OL 440).

I asked students to vote on which of the electives they would like to have introduced first. Based upon their vote, here is the prioritized list—here are the winners:
1. OL 332. Water Conservation and Management for your CBA project.
2. OL 333. Climate Smart Agricultural Practices for your CBA project.
3. OL 345. Community Based Disaster Risk Assessment, Preparedness and Management
4. OL 326. Developing Livelihood Resilience in your CBA project.

332 received twice as many votes as 345, and 333 received twice as many votes as 326.

Consequently, beginning next Tuesday, July 10, I will be introducing:

OL 332. Water Conservation and Management.

Water Conservation and Management. A shortage of water or unreliable access to water is one of the biggest issues in development. Community water sources dry up during climate change related drought—or seasonally during the dry season.

In September I will introduce:
OL 333. Climate Smart Agricultural Practices for your CBA project.

In November I will introduce:
OL 345. Community Based Disaster Risk Assessment, Preparedness and Management.

In January we will conduct another survey to see what the next course should be!

Thanks to all of you who participated in the survey. Please go here to enroll in next Tuesday's Water Conservation and Management course:

In working on my upcoming Routledge book—Field Guide to Community Based Adaptation—I have done a tremendous amount of research on water conservation management for CBA projects. This course will include the newest and best resources that I have found. Check out the course syllabus at the link above—and look at the enclosed two-page field guide (just like yours from OL 341!) from one of the assignments. Assignments include field guides and lesson plans for the different technologies and workshops mentioned in the syllabus.

If you have completed 341, 342, 343 and 344, please sign up. Let's get going. I look forward to working with you again.


Tim Magee