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Empowering people with disability in rural farming areas through creative capacity building

Project Partner who provides engineering, design process and evaluation expertise.

Photo of Andrew Drain
22 11

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*Please Upload User Experience Map (as attachment) and any additional insights gathered from Beneficiary Feedback in this field

Why does the target community define this problem as urgent and/or a priority? How is the idea leveraging and empowering community assets to help create an environment for success? (1000 characters)

Firstly, the target community of people with disability (PwD) are heavily reliant on subsistence farming of rice. They currently use a seeding process called broadcasting (throwing seeds onto the field then removing and transplanting excess saplings). This process is difficult if you have low vision or mobility impairments. Furthermore, there is additional work involved in transplanting the excess saplings to a second or third field. This process results in the community needing to plant 4 times as many seeds as they expect to yield. Poverty is a serious issue in rural Cambodia, and one that keeps people chained to barely subsistence levels. Secondly, the target community faces many challenges similar to the one mentioned above. It is ineffective for western designers to aim to solve each of these for under-served communities. Instead, we believe communities would like to learn about how they can identify, brainstorm, prototype and implement their own low-cost solutions.

How does the idea fit within the larger ecosystem that surrounds it? Urgent needs are usually a symptom of a larger issue that rests within multiple interrelated symptoms - share what you know about the context surrounding the problem you are aiming to solve. (500 characters)

PwD in Cambodia struggle to be included into many aspects of everyday life. The agricultural value chain is one of these aspects. PwD may well have land, but find it increasingly difficult to effectively utilize this land due to increasing prices of seeds and equipment, lack of young labor (due to young people migrating to factory work) and lack of support from local experts or self-help groups. These farmers are often indebted due to unscrupulous money lending systems.

How does the idea affect or change the fundamental nature of the larger ecosystem that surrounds it (as described above) in a new and/or far-reaching way? (500 characters)

The rice seeder immediately reduces labor input required for rice farming (or any farming utilizing a direct seeding process). It is a tool, which is inexpensive and simple to understand (as it does not have a complex mechanism or power). Given its simple design, the tool has the potential to scale quickly and affect a large number of communities. Furthermore, creatively empowered communities will have a far-reaching effect as they are confident to problem solve and innovate independently.

What will be different within the target community as a result of implementing the idea? What is the scope and scale of that difference? How long will it take to see that difference and how will it be sustained beyond BridgeBuilder support? (500 characters)

Aside from the rice seeder, we expect that involved communities will show improved creativity and motivation to continue to develop the rice seeder and create new solutions to different challenges. From previous projects in Cambodia, it is clear that CCB has a positive impact on understanding the design process, defining problems and motivation to undertaken new projects. These changes can occur as step-changes after the workshops or as slower changes over the duration of future projects.

How has the idea evolved or responded to your user research during the Beneficiary Feedback Phase and any further insights provided if you participated in the Expert Feedback Phase? (1000 characters)

Through feedback, we have decided that the programme needs to be less formal and more succinct and flexible to ensure participants are not missing out of income-generating opportunities in their community. To ensure this, the training itself will only last for two days. This is enough time to complete six 2-hour sessions, which introduce problem-solving concepts, and practice these using a range of activities (including the drum seeder). After this, nine informal sessions will be arranged in which participants are able to attend and receive help developing ideas they may have. These sessions will run each fortnightly for six weeks and then monthly for six months. If a participant is too busy to attend a session, that is completely fine, and they will have the opportunity to attend the next session. The programme will now also include a focus on business planning to ensure the potential for scaling new ideas that come from the programme.

What are the key steps for implementation in the next 1-3 years? (You can attach a timeline or GANTT chart in place of a written plan, if desired.) (1000 characters)

Describe the individual or team that will implement this idea (if a partnership, please explain breakdown of roles and responsibilities for each entity). (Feel free to share an organizational chart or visual description of your team). (500 characters)

What aspects of the idea would potential BridgeBuilder funds primarily support? (500 characters)

This fund would support the refinement of the rice seeder (engineering design, testing, design-for-manufacture and validation), creative capacity building (CCB) content development and the initial 12 months of the programme. Along with this, the fund would support staff time during the above-mentioned stages and flights for one MU academic to be present for M&E.

In preparation for our Expert Feedback Phase: What are three unanswered questions or challenges that you could use support on in your project? These questions will be answered directly by experts matched specifically to your idea and needs.

1. Do you know of any effect ways of evaluating creativity or problem solving skills in low-resource contexts? 2. Do you agree that the programme should be designed to be flexible and allow participants to miss a workshop if their everyday life needs to take priority? 3. Do you think it is important to focus on building a relationship with government in Cambodia, and with local cooperatives? Or is our current network strong enough for effective programme delivery? 4. How feasible do you think supporting three separate communities at the same time will be (during the 6 months of informal workshops)? Would it be better to focus in on one community only?

Final Updates (*Please do not complete until we reach the Improve Phase*): How has the idea evolved or responded to your user research during the Beneficiary Feedback Phase and any further insights provided if you participated in the Expert Feedback Phase? (1000 characters)

Based on Beneficiary Feedback, we have modified the structure of the programme to be more flexible to ensure the attendance of each workshop does not have a negative effect on the participants. For example, a participant may need to tend to a family matter, or may have an income-generating activity available to them on that day. The new flexible structure means a participant can miss a workshop if required, as long as they are present for the two formal capacity-building days. Based on Expert Feedback, we have modified the content of the programme to support potential business developments by participants during the programme. This will allow for new ideas to be explored not only in terms of local applicability (positive impact on the individuals life) but also the potential for the participant to scale and sell the solution (positively impact other individuals while also generating income).

During this Improve Phase, please use the space below to add any additional information to your proposal.

Please feel free to review the following supporting information: 1. Project Summary from a similar project we ran in 2017 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/326476359_Inclusive_Agriculture_2017_Project_Summary 2. Participatory Design Handbook we developed for our currently project in 2018 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/326357229_Participatory_Design_Handbook_Inclusive_Agriculture_Cambodia_2018 3. Academic publication we published on the development of Creative Capacity Building in Cambodia http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/AeT8x9xmQuqhVtYKnxJ5/full

Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

The three factors of reliance on subsistence agriculture, high-levels of disability and youth-exodus from rural farming areas create a complex challenge in rural Cambodia. 79% of Cambodia’s 15 million people live in rural areas, with most engaging in subsistence farming. Cambodia is also home to a large number of people with disability (PwD) due to landmine injuries, age, road traffic crashes, congenital conditions and malnutrition in the Khmer Rouge era. This complex range of impairments is made more challenging due to the Buddhist belief that disability is a cause of bad karma. Finally, large numbers of youth are opting out of agricultural work in favor of factory work near larger townships. This has created a labor shortage in rural areas, and has resulted in elderly community members, with age-related impairments, having to perform labor-intensive tasks later in life. This combination represents a complex challenge that sits on the overlap of planet and prosperity. It is clear that assistive technology can play a role in helping people to engage in farming. However, technology alone will never meaningfully address this challenge. Two major outcomes need to be addressed, technology development and the building of community resilience. We propose the development of a community resilience programme, centered on problem solving and creative capacity building (CCB). This programme would focus on empowering PwD in rural Cambodia to identify and work towards solving their own challenges. The programme will involve learning about problem solving through designing and building a drum seeder product (used to sow various seeds onto a prepared field in the required spacing). This product will help to illustrate the problem solving process while also supplying each participant with a useful tool to reduce labor requirements in their farm.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Our beneficiaries are PwD in rural areas of Pursat, Cambodia, a province severely affected by the legacy of landmines. These PwD self-identify as having one or more impairment and have aspirations to engage with agricultural practices. These individuals have built up strong agricultural knowledge and ability over their lives, but now find it challenging to continue to engage in labor-intensive farming. The beneficiaries will benefit through developing effective problem solving and creativity skills, as well as constructing their own solutions that make agricultural work less labor intensive. The drum seeder product is one of the prototypes that has been developed in an earlier design project with a partner community, based on their own list of priorities. Its purpose is to make the process of seeding more efficient and accessible for persons with different types of disabilities.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

There are few programmes in South East Asia that aim to produce positive impact through both technology creation and capacity building. We believe this unique combination allows for both immediate and long-term positive change in the community. There has been a clearly identified need for building resilience in communities of PwD. We have aimed to address this through both providing appropriate technologies and developing community’s ability to identify and solve challenges in their own lives. Light For The World (LFTW) are uniquely positioned to champion this approach as we have a strong global network of communities and practitioners that are striving to generate positive change. In Cambodia, LFTW has a well-developed network with multiple current programmes in advocacy, education and inclusion. We work closely with rural disabilities organizations and therefore are well linked to the rural communities we aim to support.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Pilot: I have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Light for the World is promoting the inclusion of people with a disability in education, in the labour market and in all other aspects of society, with a focus on developing countries. http://lab.light-for-the-world.org/

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

In 2017, we worked with a community of elderly PwD in Kampong Chhnang, Cambodia. During this project, we worked with a woman with a deformed foot, resulting in a mobility impairment. She was incredibly innovative, creating lizard traps and woven baskets; however, she had never been given support to think about creating technology that addressed larger challenges in her life.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Prosperity – Currently inclusion of PwD into traditional rural livelihoods is difficult due to socio-cultural and technical barriers. This creates a damaging cycle of poverty and social exclusion that in turn exacerbates the challenges of these individuals. Empowering these PwD through the creation of more efficient farming practices has the potential to break this cycle. Planet – Currently utilization of land by PwD is difficult due to technical barriers (such as high levels of labor input and the need for clear eyesight during sowing and planting). This has resulted in the land owned by PwD being under-utilized and producing less produce than possible. This lack of produce creates problems, as there is less subsistence crop to feed their families, and less produce to sell at the market. These factors contribute to the wider challenges of PwD in Cambodia.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

The primary organization focusing on this project will be Light For The World Cambodia. Supporting this project will be the project partners Engineers Without Borders Australia (EWB) and Massey University New Zealand (MU). LFTW will provide disability empowerment expertise, community mobilization, logistics and workshop facilitation. EWB will provide technical expertise for the refinement of the product, planning and facilitation support and evaluation of programme effectiveness. MU will support refinement of the product, development of content for creative capacity building workshop and support during the evaluation and analysis stage. The project will work with the local organization DDSP in Pursat, Cambodia. DDSP provide a range of services for PwD in Cambodia, such as education, advocacy and financial support. They have a strong link to the province and strong relationships with the various communities.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

The wider community of PwD in Pursat have several key strengths. Firstly, there is already a local Disabled Persons Organization, DDSP, with strong ties to the community and a proven record of accomplishment of implementing successful programmes. Secondly, the community has the time to engage in the proposed programme, aspiration to engage in farming and a lifetime full of experience to leverage during creative capacity building workshops.

Geographic Focus

The pilot programme will focus on the specific province of Pursat, Cambodia.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

The proposed project will require 18 months to develop, run and evaluate the programme. During this time the drum seeder product will need to be refined (3 months), the workshop content will need to be developed (3 months) and the programme will be implemented with three separate community groups. The three groups will complete the training, build the drum seeder and then be supported to identify and solve their own challenges over a six-month period.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

22 comments

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Comment
Photo of Marnie Glazier
Team

This is a part of the world that has been so profoundly and systemically disadvantaged for so long. I really appreciate your project and love the opening visuals describing your process!

Photo of Andrew Drain
Team

Thank you Marnie. You are right, Cambodia has been disadvantaged in so many ways over the past 50 years. There is an amazing group of NGO's working to support local capacity building and development in Cambodia. I'm lucky to be a part of this, and passionate to see real change.

Thanks
Andrew

Photo of Marnie Glazier
Team

Andrew, keep up the excellent work and best to you in the challenge!

Photo of Katie Messick Maddox
Team

Hi Andrew, thanks again for your great comments and questions on our proposal! I really enjoyed reading about your project! Linked to your sections on youth leaving smallholder communities and the youth exodus, I thought it may be interesting to hop on a call at some point - perhaps once the Challenge is over - to chat through our work with youth and perhaps share some of the ideas we've engaged youth in the sector (identifying creative ways to support youth to enter the agriculture sector without having to become farmers). I think they may provide a key piece to the puzzle you are solving in empowering people with disability in rural farmer areas. We'd also love to learn more from you linked to your work with disabled farmers, as this is something we've been discussing with our partner producer organisations/farming cooperatives about more and more. Our initial focus is on supporting farmers with limited mobility and vision and/or hearing impairment. We are new to this space and could learn a lot from you. Thanks so much! Best, Katie & the Producers Direct Team

Photo of Andrew Drain
Team

Hi Katie, yes that would be great to chat after the challenge, perhaps along with the Light For The World Cambodia Manager David Curtis (he is a real disability inclusion expert!). We have mainly been looking at new low-cost tech that reduced labor input for people with mobility and dexterity impairments, but we also identified a new challenge around the general community not wanting to buy produce from someone with a disability, so that needs to be a consideration of any project involving disabled farmers. Lets connect in a few weeks :-)

Thanks
Andrew

Photo of Andrew Drain
Team

Hi Katie, yes that would be great to chat after the challenge, perhaps along with the Light For The World Cambodia Manager David Curtis (he is a real disability inclusion expert!). We have mainly been looking at new low-cost tech that reduced labor input for people with mobility and dexterity impairments, but we also identified a new challenge around the general community not wanting to buy produce from someone with a disability, so that needs to be a consideration of any project involving disabled farmers. Lets connect in a few weeks :-)

Thanks
Andrew

Photo of Katie Messick Maddox
Team

Hey Andrew - yes, let's setup a call, that'd be great! My email is katie@producersdirect.org, would be great to share and learn. Really interesting in terms of sensitization needs around buying products from people with disability. We initially had similar challenges with our heavy youth-led approach and perceptions of youth in the agri sector. Yes, let's link up. Best, Katie

Photo of Kathleen Rommel
Team

Hi there,

What an interesting project! Thank you for sharing it so clearly, and congratulations on making it to the Improve Phase. One thing that I found particularly interesting was the post-beneficiary feedback adjustment you made re: attendance. As my nonprofit incorporates a number of training/coaching sessions, I can certainly relate to the challenge of attendance and other commitments. That said, I was interested in whether you've explored any incentives for increased participation. In our experience, we've found simple options like refreshments and/or prizes for attendance can be helpful motivators that overall improves learnings and the sustainability of the program. Have you tried anything like this in the past?

Great job!
Kathleen

Photo of Andrew Drain
Team

Hi Kathleen, thank you for the insight, much appreciated :-). We have run similar programmes in 2017 and 2018 with relatively low levels of participant attrition. In these programmes we offered a modest travel allowance ($2.5 per day), lunch, and the potential to take away a new technology at the end of the last workshop. A challenge we had was that in each workshop a few participants would be absent (due to a legitimate reason like needed to look after a family member or tend to their family's farm). When these participants return back at the next workshop, they did not know what had happened previously and so tended to slow the progress of the other participants. We are aiming to develop our new programme to be more forgiving if individuals miss a workshop by ensuring flexibility and clarity of outcomes at each stage.
Thanks
Andrew

Photo of Kathleen Rommel
Team

Hi Andrew,

Thanks for your response—this makes a lot of sense, and is certainly a tough challenge to tackle when resources are limited. I think it's a great idea to make the program more flexible, perhaps with takeaway materials that can carry over and/or using the first moments of a session to have a participant summarize what they learned the last time, so everyone can refresh and be caught up to speed. Looking forward to hearing how this progresses, and let me know if there's anything I can do to support!

Kathleen

Photo of Matthias Scheffelmeier
Team

Dear team, congratulations for your great effort and the work you do! I admire and respect your passion for this challenge and for solving it. Thank you. My knowledge and ability to judge as to whether and how the 'technology' does indeed work is very limited, so I'll just be assuming it does and focus on another area of feedback. I am not sure if this just wasn't mentioned (and u in fact already do this or i may have just missed it in the text above) or maybe you did not include this aspect, yet, but I do believe this product is an ideal fit to not just empower the target group via the product, but to actually empower them to become the producers of it, too. You could set up a train the trainer approach where dozens of people are trained to train others in how to build these rice seeders - the one building them then could either 'sell' them to other farmers, thus creating an additional income or 'rent' them to others and help them to pay them off slowly. (I recommend you to check out the venture "Rikshaw Bank" from India, different context, but a similar idea of empowering the target group both by providing them with a technology as well as training them to actually create it, same goes for "SolarEar" http://solarear.com.br. I think the trick here is how to use the technology in various ways, as such, but also as a tool for additional income generation and for making your target group independent from yourself (business entrepreneurs try to create dependencies so customers stuck with them, social entrepreneurs create independencies so that people can become the engine of their own change). Best of luck!!

Photo of Andrew Drain
Team

Hi Matthias, thank you for taking the time to review our application, really appreciate your feedback :-). We have been thinking about this, as our overarching goal is to improve the livelihoods of people with disability in rural areas. As the proposal currently stands, we have not included an entrepreneurial aspect yet, and instead have opted to distribute the technology through a creative capacity building workshop. This is partly due to the the fact that we think the rice seeder product will attract lots of people to the workshops, who will in turn learn about how to problem solve independently. And partly due to the fact that our target user (elderly people with disability in rural areas) are very poor, and may not have the money to purchase a product like this. The rice seeder is also valuable to the wider community, however, this may be a year or two away before we have a strong network of people with disability who have been through the creative capacity building programme, who can then become our entrepreneurs. Thanks for the comments :-)

Andrew

Photo of Christina Schwanke
Team

Andrew Drain ,

It makes my heart heavy to see similar problems throughout the world when it comes to agriculture and them mass exodus of youth from the industry. While I have no regionally helpful thoughts I am thankful you are attempting to address the problem.

A couple that I consider family owns a ranch in the town I grew up in. The husband is in his 70's and has MS and is still works physically harder than most people I know. Unfortunately this creates a environment that it is easier for him to get sick or hurt and with the decline of population the access for healthcare is getting worse. Thankfully they have resources like tractors and quads that ease some of the physical demands.

I hope that you can make it easier for farmers with disabilities!

Best,
Christina

Photo of Andrew Drain
Team

Thank you for the comment Christina. We agree that this is a global challenge, and one not well addressed in most places. The US has a well-developed programme called Agrability, for Veterans with Disabilities. This seems to be the most inclusive agricultural programme I have found.
We are working towards similar inclusion-focused outcomes in Cambodia.
Thanks
Andrew

Photo of Joy Banerjee
Team

Hi Andrew ,

Your concept looks interesting to empower the disabled people. Will your project apart from capacity building programs plan to develop a solution with a tailored design model for different kinds of disabilities ? this would certainly motivate the disabled community to live with dignity.

Photo of Andrew Drain
Team

Hi Joy, thank you for the comment. Yes! The plan is to run a 2-day capacity building workshop that then leads into 7 months of project work to co-create new technologies with the communities. In 2017 and 2018 We have used a mix of design models for this including a descriptive model developed by the MIT D-Lab along with the universal design principles and the Making Framework (Sanders and Stappers). Please check out our project handbook from 2018 here - https://www.researchgate.net/publication/326357229_Participatory_Design_Handbook_Inclusive_Agriculture_Cambodia_2018
Thanks
Andrew

Photo of Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO)
Team

This sounds like a fantastic project! How do you plan on teaching and interacting with people who have different kinds of disabilities? Will it vary depending on the needs of the person, or will it be some sort of all-encompassing broader program?

Photo of Andrew Drain
Team

Hello, thank you for the comment. We have budgeted 3 months of time to develop and pilot the specific content for this programme. It will be relatively generic so it can be used across different communities. We have developed similar programmes over the past two years and so can use this content as a starting point. Please see https://www.researchgate.net/publication/326357229_Participatory_Design_Handbook_Inclusive_Agriculture_Cambodia_2018 for a copy of the Handbook I developed for our current project in Cambodia.
My research from 2017 showed that the most effective form of content delivery involves lots of hands-on activities, focus on locally-relevant examples, and flexibility to speed-up or slow-down as required. It also highlighted that we need to be really aware of the different impairments and how they can influence the individuals ability to engage in hands-on activities.

Thanks
Andrew

Photo of Jaskeerat Bedi
Team

Hi Andrew and team! Congratulations on making it to the Refinement Phase. Jean-Marc Mercy and myself are excited to collaborate with you to refine your idea further. Your post has some great inspirational persona doing fun stuff, for instance- the lady making lizard traps! Would be great to see some personas and learn more about their unique perspective. Attaching within are some case studies showcasing user personas and insights- https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3G2w5FERlm5dlpLSElocmI1TWs/view

Also, congratulations on putting together great partners. Would love to learn more about how work will be divided amongst different stakeholders? How will you measure impact for the workshops? How will the program have a long lasting impact on the community?

Photo of Andrew Drain
Team

Hi Jaskeerat, thank you for taking the time to review our application and provide feedback. We really appreciate it.

We are currently in the process of creating several personas, we have had workshops running in rural Cambodia over the past few days and have used this time to connect with community members about the application and gain insights into their lives. I will check out the link you have provided and use this to refine the personas. Is it best to just upload these with the rest of our application?

We are happy to have a strong partnership between engineering, disability, international development and academic organizations. I will outline this relationship in full in the application. For now, please see below for how each org adds value to the project:

LFTW will act as disability experts with roles including logistics, capacity development and community mobilisation, gender-inclusion and M&E.
EWB will act as engineering experts with roles including content development, Cambodian university relationship, logistics and M&E.
MU will act as HCD and education experts with roles including content development and M&E.

Furthermore, EWB and LFTW have teams that live in Cambodia and have years of experience on the ground, along with strong community and LNGO links. The three organisations all work very closely together to ensure that the multi-disciplinary skills required to conduct creative capacity building, and design project collaboration are always present.

We are currently working on how impact will be measured. We have several existing evaluation frameworks we already utilize (including a creative capacity framework I developed during my PhD studies). We will utilize several monitoring processes to document community development in the short term (interviews with facilitators and participants, field diaries, observations and anonymous feedback methods). We can also monitor the adoption and effectiveness of the rice seeder product that we plan to use as a center-piece to the creative capacity building.

Finally, as we have several team members based in rural Cambodia, we will also put in place longer-term monitoring to understand if this new knowledge has resulted in demonstrable improvements in innovation and problem solving within the community. We recognize the need for long term engineering and design support as well, this will be planned for.

Photo of Kate Chance
Team

Hi Andrew, this seems like a really interesting and potentially very helpful project. I feel that unfortunately, this problem isn't talked about often and is usually overlooked. Will you be developing and producing products other than the drum seeder during the workshops? If the participants come up with products that would be helpful, will you follow up and assist them in their creation? Best of luck!

Photo of Andrew Drain
Team

Hi Kate, thanks for the message. We currently run a similar programme in Cambodia where we start with no products in mind and the communities we partner with come up with their own ideas from scratch. This process has yielded 5 technologies over the 2 years it has run (2 in 2017 and 3 under development in 2018). The rice seeder came out of the 2017 project. For this application, we are planning on developing a creative capacity building programme that centers around the rice seeder initially, once the programme is complete the participant will have their own rice seeder to take home. We work closely with the LNGO and so if the community were interested in getting continued support for new ideas after this programme, we would be excited to help. Thanks :-)