OL 333 Assignment Two Discussion
Climate Smart Agriculture


Assignment Two. Defining Smallholder Agricultural Risks, Vulnerabilities, Hazards and Adaptation Capacity for One of Your Activities

This assignment is where we start getting our hands dirty. We need to begin the process of very specifically describing an agricultural challenge that your community of farmers is facing so that you can match it to a solid technique that will work to solve it. So in this assignment we’re going to develop a highly specific definition of one or two of our agricultural challenges, and then list resources and capabilities that the community has which could provide support for implementing the solution.

Using this information, we will then spend the next four weeks exploring different kinds of field activities. These activities are quite different from each other—so probably one of them will be the best match for your challenge. However, it will be good for you to learn about the others for future projects.

Last week I asked you to determine if:
-you needed to hold a participatory workshop in assessing community vulnerability and adaptation capacity because you didn’t have enough information
-you needed to hold a meeting with a few of your committee members to fill in a few blank pieces of information in order to have all the information you need
-you needed to simply compile the information that you need for this assignment from information that you had gathered in the past.

If you are leading a workshop:
This is going to be a very short discussion today because you have lots to do in preparation for your workshop.

Giving Information. You’re going to work with them on four exercises. After gathering this general information—focus at the end of each exercise on agricultural practices and challenges. You’re going to begin the process of providing community members with organizational tools designed to capture detailed knowledge about their agricultural challenges.

Exchanging Information
On page 30 of the ‘CARE Climate Vulnerability and Capacity Analysis Handbook’, there is a short section on facilitating workshops that you might want to scan; there are some great points there that you might be able to incorporate into your facilitation style.

Make the workshop as participatory as possible by keeping the exchange of information as conversational as possible. If you bring up comments or questions about the community members’ CC context in an effort to keep the workshop lively—make sure that they are directed towards getting responses and feedback from the participants: this isn’t meant to be a lecture. At the end of the workshop your participants should be able to see a wonderful visual collection of the knowledge and information that they provided. This will help them keep their sense of ownership of the project

Don’t forget that in this exercise we are looking for very specific information about one or two agricultural challenges: a detailed definition and a list of community capabilities and resources. So toward the end of the workshop summarize the challenges, and brainstorm with the community about specific causes. Propose one or two potential solution oriented activities and ask if they have resources that could be in support of those.

All course participants:
Much of our initial information we gathered in OL 343 and in OL 344 was fairly general in nature. Our programs and our project outline were fairly general to. It’s a little bit like saying “my roof leaks”. But in this assignment we want to determine specifically why the roof is leaking. Has it deteriorated to the point where needs replacing? Does it have a hole that could be patched? Does it have termites which are weakening the structure? Is the roof so flat that water can settle into puddles and seep into the house?

Each one of these challenges requires a different solution. So in our CBA programs when we said “soil restoration and conservation”, that isn’t specific enough for us to know how to solve the problem. If in looking at our workshop or committee meeting notes we discover that the farmers are suffering degradation of their soil due to loss of topsoil through erosion, compaction of their soil, and an inability to harvest and hold soil moisture—and we discover that they burn their crop residues after harvest—we can begin a discussion with our farmers about the benefits of reincorporating crop residues into the soil and about applying mulch to the soil shortly after planting. A more specifically described challenge can lead to a more specifically described solution.

The second thing that we are looking for is to determine what resources and capabilities the community may have available to help support this more clearly defined solution. In the example above, if this is a very poor community, they may simply have the labor for cutting down the crop residue and incorporating it into the topsoil during planting. They may also have three months before the next planting cycle and therefore enough time to begin collecting mulch and manure to apply to the top of the fields. Clearly defined challenge + appropriate use of community resources in support of the solution. This leads to community ownership and sustainability.

Good luck—I look forward to hearing about your results—please move on to Assignment Two.


Tim Magee