Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Learning processes

(Posted in on 7 September 2004)

I am part of a team of people providing support to groups in the Philippines, Cambodia and Viet Nam who have common concerns and interests, one of which is how to facilitate a process in the community that supports the development of sustainable livelihoods.

It was interesting for me to read Learn’s ideas on “building learning communities” because I think that in many ways, the partnerships and interactions between the researchers and their community partners form part of what it takes to build learning communities. It is through interactions and joint processes of learning and re-learning that our views of the world are continuously shaped, including how we view our relationship with the resources we use, or how we choose what livelihoods to pursue or not. Surely, we looked at the the outcomes of these interactions but it is also important to document which processes enhance more learning and more intense interactions.

In the Philippines, the project teams have been facilitating a visioning process with partner communities as an entry point for supporting SL work. This process intends to provide venues where community partners articulate and agree on a vision or a dream for themselves and their community. The process and its resulting outputs vary. In Tinambac, Camarines Sur, the visioning exercises are intended as inputs for developing research and training modules on SL. In Prieto Diaz, Sorsogon, the SL visioning process feeds into the barangay planning. In Asinan, Buenavista, the visioning exercise led to the development of a community plan that relates resource management with livelihoods activities. In San Salvador, Zambales, a livelihoods development plan of the fisherfolk organization is emerging out of this visioning process.

The SL visioning process in the Philippines is led by supporting organizations such as the Network for Sustainable Livelihoods Catalysts (NSLC) Tambuyog Development Center (TDC) and Pamana ka sa Pilipinas. The researchers of these supporting organizations work with local community members. For example, 2 male and 2 female leaders from resource management cooperatives in Prieto Diaz work with TDC researchers. These local leaders co-facilitated the barangay consultations which included an orientation to the SL project as well as a discussion on the possibility of integrating SL into barangay development planning. In Tinambac, the participants of the SL visioning exercises are 10 community residents from 2 barangays. They are being called “community scholars” by NSLC, following the example of Bolinao where fisherfolk leaders who were nominated by their organizations as community scholars subsequently learned the skills and attitudes of a community organizer with the intention of developing and strengthening local capacity. Called local community organizers (LCOs), these leaders are regarded as representatives of community groups and not the supporting non-government organization (NGO). The LCO development emphasized sharing, confidence-building and learning-by-doing activities. Pamana is in a slightly different condition because it is not an NGO but a federation of fisherfolk organizations. Its work in the community is thus facilitated by a fisher-leader who is also a resident of that area. Pamana works with NSLC in Asinan, Buenavista and San Salvador, Zambales.

Becky Rivera-Guieb
Dalhousie University


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