Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Re: Building learning communities

(Posted in cbcrmlearn@yahoogroups.com on 7 September 2004)

One recent experience we had in trying to build a "learning community" involved NGOs in Sumatra, Indonesia. There are many such NGOs in the island implementing CBCRM programs at varying levels and scope. They recognize that there is no one way to do CBCRM, believing that the concepts and processes continue to evolve as field practitioners seriously explore, innovate and generate new ideas and techniques in managing the coastal environment.

A local NGO, Laksana Samudera, proposed an activity to LeaRN to hold a learning event where these NGOs can share information and experiences and learn from among themselves to further improve ways of working. LeaRN coordinated with Jaring Pela (a national network of organizations and individuals involved in coastal and marine issues in Indonesia) to help in organizing the activity. It also tapped the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF) based in India for technical and financial support. A Fellow from the Community Organizing Cluster, Dick Balderrama (Executive Director of SIKAT, a partner NGO), was also asked to share their experiences during the workshop.

The three-day event consisted mainly of case presentations from 14 NGOs coming from all over Sumatra. They discussed the issues and problems they are addressing and the interventions and strategies they are implementing. These were followed by presentations from: (a) Jaring Pela and Telapak on their work to reform destructive fishing practices; (b) Nalini Nayak of ICSF on the feminist perspective in fisheries; and (c) Dick Balderrama of SIKAT on their fisheries development and management program in the Philippines.

After the presentations, the group analyzed the factors that contributed to the success or failure of the CBCRM programs and later on proceeded to formulate their own concept of CBCRM. They tried to define what is CBCRM, its goals, objectives, strategies, and principles. Based on this preliminary concept, they then identified the capacities needed to implement it and the existing skills they already have individually and institutionally.

They put forward several recommendations to ensure continuous learning, mainly by institutionalizing a capacity exchange system among them - as a "learning community" - through: (a) a mailing list/egroup that will serve as a forum for discussion and means of easy communication; (b) cross visits and internships; (c) annual consolidation meetings and workshops to share information and learning; (d) publications; and (e) regular documentation of activities.

Overall, the participants appreciated the very participatory manner in which the learning event was conducted. There was no single person who came as an "expert"; each one had something to contribute to enable them to come to a common understanding of CBCRM and how to take it forward, collectively and individually, given their own contexts.

Mike Reynaldo
CBCRM Resource Center

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