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If Holistic Community Development is the 'what', Social Learning Circles are the 'how'.

Validating a practical, scalable framework for community and ecological regeneration, for majority adoption

Photo of Richard Hatfield
19 10

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

I hope this self-explanatory :)

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)

The attached image aims to capture why communities define this problem as an urgent priority; and also how community human and social capital can be leveraged and empowered, alongside natural capital. The image portrays the worsening symptoms of the main problem: resource base collapse; reducing the original resource base (green triangle) to the much smaller red triangle, symptomatic of the current typical situation communities face. This issue threatens all life in these communities; indeed, having piloted approaches with some 20 communities over the past 10 years, every community without exception has concluded it will perish under current circumstances. Based on our previous piloting, the solution is portrayed as feeding available Regeneration knowledge into a social learning process, which itself is comprised of multiple integrated processes; fundamental to achieving resource base rebound, necessary for ecosystem - community - livelihood prosperity (blue arrow).

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)

Collapse of the resource base has at its heart the breakdown of community knowledge, management and confidence. This is the result of many powerful drivers including modern aspirations, cash needs, self-interest, land adjudication, government controls, modern education, insufficient biological knowledge and rising population pressure.

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 essential change is transforming current community disempowerment into empowerment, by putting the process of their own development into communities' hands. Done by co-developing with communities the necessary processes to achieve this, delivered through a social learning process, and focused on social, environmental and livelihoods well-being.

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)

Process results & impact results. Process results will involve actualization in communities of social learning components. These components are described in the image above 'Impacts of resource base collapse'. These can be in the first year. Anticipated impact results include enhanced collective management capacity, enhanced forage production & water, healthier livestock, decreased stress and competition. Results can start to show from one year but will vary by community.

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)

4 valuable insights emerged from Beneficiary Feedback: (1) The proposed idea is Validating for majority adoption, not Piloting. Community champions pointed out components had been designed and tested by us as facilitators during past 10 years, like designing components of a car (piloting). The task now is to assemble and test the package ie test run the car so we are satisfied it performs how it should; and is fit for others (validation). (2) As a result, the idea (test runs) must mainstream appropriate Monitoring & Evaluation. (3) And this time round it will be the communities who will be the main assessors (test drivers). Community-appropriate M&E will therefore be essential. We have in mind Intentional Design-Outcome Mapping (IDRC) as a suitable methodology. (4) Community champions urged us to mainstream video recording (a) to record the story (b) for training neighbours & partners (c) to provide evidence to government as proof-of-concept for national adoption and support.

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)

1. Video recording the events and change process in each community as a story (record), for training, and for convincing government. 2. Setting up of participatory M&E including baseline. 3. Situation assessment and future visioning process by communities. 4. New technical knowledge transfer on land and water regeneration, governance and management options, and livestock value addition through better management and market options. 5. Community prioritization, decision testing, action planning, organisation. 6. Community continuous cycles of implementation, review, learning, re-planning, re-implementation, review, learning. 7. Mentoring support of the above process. 8. Designed practice, learning and results exchange between participating communities; networking to establish a Community Of Practice. 9. Dissemination of results and learning to targeted audiences, primarily community themselves, neighbours, the wider White Mountain landscape partnership, and government.

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)

3 partner types are involved: (1) participating communities in the 10 sites (the test drivers of the process and assessors) (2) ourselves facilitating the process (3) individuals amongst a group of organisations under the new 'White Mountain' 40 million acre landscape collaboration, of which we are one (see attached concept), will be pulled in to add value to the process based on specific expertise in certain components; and to bear witness in order to inform the group's landscape projects.

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

BridgeBuilder funds would primarily support testing and refining of the set of core components that together will constitute an effective and efficient community social learning process. It includes most if not all the key steps outlined above over the next 1-3 years.

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.

I don't have specific unanswered challenges or questions; however, I would very much appreciated any Expert Feedback on the idea in general.

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)

Please see response above - 4 insights from Beneficiary feedback Process. In addition, beneficiaries highlighted specific audiences for involvement in the process in order to set up future adoption (1) neighbour communities will be invited to participate to 'test the waters' and build their interest (2) learning and results will be channeled into a group of organisations under the new 'White Mountain' 40 million acre landscape collaboration, of which we are one (see attached concept); where learning and results will inform this initiative's design (3) identified key government decision-makers will participate to build their exposure and support for the approach to be mainstreamed within government's programs nationwide. This is based on ongoing engagement with government who are interested in the approach under the 'Food Security' component of their 'Big 4' agenda.

Note that you may also edit any of your previous answers within the proposal. Here is a great place to note any big final changes or iterations you have made to your proposal below:

Main changes / iterations derive from the Beneficiary Feedback Process, described above.

Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

We cannot have peace without prosperity, or prosperity without peace; similarly, we cannot end poverty without healing ecosystems, and we cannot heal ecosystems without ending poverty. Management must be holistic. To date piloting a holistic approach to development has taught us that change can only be achieved through a process of social transformation; which cannot be done for somebody by somebody else. Within this approach, social learning has emerged as the key process for solving complex issues - as opposed to expert knowledge. Social learning brings together all the relevant players to share their knowledge and perspectives on problems for which no-one has the full answer. The beauty is that no-one's knowledge displaces another's; there is only addition. Out of which the best actions to test will be agreed, how they should be tested, and by whom. This is only the start of finding the right answers; social learning involves regular review of actions tested, conclusions, re-planning and re-implementation - as cycles of continuous group learning, based in the local context. As the cycles continue, so do the solutions to complex issues become more visible and achievable. We would like others to benefit from our experience by mainstreaming social learning as a key process for achieving peace, prosperity and healthy environments. The specific purpose of this project is to now - through social learning - design, test, refine and record the most effective and efficient models for how to apply social learning in practice including preparation, entry points, participation models, activity sets and organisation, universal facilitation techniques, resource mobilization, etc. The overall aim is to develop a practical, shareable 'user manual' of best-practices for solving complex, interconnected issues for local and global audiences. The manual will likely use a visual / video platform for communities, development organisations, and policy makers.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Ultimately our idea is applicable to communities everywhere. However, the main beneficiaries at this stage will be the families in 10 pilot Maasai communities, 5 in Kenya and 5 in Tanzania, who number approximately 10,000 families (100,000 people) and whose land covers approximately 600,000 hectares (1.4 million acres) supporting some 400,000 livestock and containing some of the richest wildlife populations and most iconic landscapes in Africa.

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

Different organisations in the Eastern African development and conservation sectors apply parts of an ecological or social approach to their projects. Few, if any, are using an explicit holistic approach. None are applying the structured and comprehensive approach to ecosystem health and productivity that we are; very few are applying the structured and comprehensive approach to social transformation that we are; and none are combining them as drivers of community-desired holistic outcomes. The confidence in our approach comes from validation from all the communities (approx 15) in which we piloted our approach over the past 10 years. As such, we believe the concept and content has been proven; what is now needed is to combine our learning, principles and techniques into a generic package which can be used by others and ourselves to scale up and out. We also believe lessons from the East African context can contribute to learning for other contexts across the globe.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Early Adoption: I have completed a pilot and analyzed the impact of that pilot on the intended users of the idea. I have begun to expand the pilot for early adoption.

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

We have mainly worked within internationally-funded development and conservation projects in East Africa to design and implement pilot components to test, refine and provide proof-of-concept for a holistic approach to project contexts, driven by ecological regeneration and social transformation.

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered company.

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

Growing up in East Africa, I was always interested in maintaining its rich landscapes, wildlife and cultures, all under threat. This journey began with my thesis in resource economics in a famous US university, 'Why and how do pastoralists overgraze'? Very little of the literature I found made sense. One day I read a popular article 'Rolling back the deserts' describing practical, effective but radical approaches to healing ecosystems. I brought these back to East Africa and built on them.

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

Core livelihoods in the region based on livestock directly depend on nature. Land and water health and productivity have suffered from mainly poor grazing management, exacerbated by drought and climate change resulting in huge livestock loss of productivity and loss, for example, 90% of herds decimated last year in one site. Collapse of the resource based has hastened poverty, migration to towns especially by youth, and individual interest resulting in breakdown of community safety nets, management structures, sense of being and loss of hope. Collapse of the resource base has also resulted in increased conflict over access to grazing and water, both between communities and between livestock and wildlife; whilst fuelling cultivation of land unsuitable for crops, further exacerbating human-wildlife conflict.

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

The project will involve both communities and organisations. Communities include Enonkishu and Siana in the famous Maasai Mara of Kenya, 3 communities in Kajiado-Taita region of southern Kenya, and 5 communities in the Manyara-Longido regions of northern Tanzania. We will work with the communities directly on social transformation and ecological regeneration as they help validate effective scaling up prototype model(s). These processes will then be streamlined for further scaling up through Mara Training Centre who train communities in East Africa, Tsavo Heritage which aims to protect the world-famous Tsavo National Park by working with the communities and local governments of 12 surrounding counties (1/4 the size of Kenya); the Nature Conservancy / VSF who are project partners in Tanzania; whilst all learnings and results will be shared and fed into the White Mountain initiative described above.

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

The communities have the strengths of inclusive management through a traditional collective approach to management, cooperation and living, plus the resources needed to enact ecological healing: land, animals, owners-managers-warriors, and inate knowledge of land and livestock in their context. The youth are keen to stay if they can see that they can make a good living from the land. Communities also have the benefit of the partner organisations who seek to support without dictating.

Geographic Focus

Southern Kenya and northern Tanzania, some of most iconic landscapes and cultures on earth.

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

36 months.

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

  • No
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Attachments (4)

white-mountain2-2 concept.pdf

White Mountain, Oldoinyo Oibor in the Maasai language, refers to Mt. Kilimanjaro. It is a newly proposed initiative spearheaded by an informal group of organisations, of which we are one, for a Maasai community-led, holistic initiative focused on regenerating the Kilimanjaro ecosystem and its livelihoods. The learnings and results of our idea will be fed into and coordinated with the wider efforts of this initiative.

Il Ngwesi land rehabilitation using livestock.docx

This photo demonstrates land rehabilitation using communities resources-at-hand (in this case, livestock). This is one example of piloting components during the past 10 years.

LCT July 2014 with HM article P6.pdf

See page 6 of this local newspaper highlighting a case study piloting the approach from Il Ngwesi, Kenya. The article gives further illustration of piloting components during the past 10 years.

Arsim, Kenya results extracts_RHatfield.pdf

This brief document highlights results from one project site in Kenya. It provides further example of component design - testing over the past 10 years that this proposal seeks to package and validate for mainstreaming as a community development approach.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Isaac Jumba

Hi Richard,
Thanks for the updated idea. I was wondering if you could shed more light on the team that will be working to help realize this concept. It will also be great to share more on the measurable outcomes or metrics that the team will be using to assess if the project will have the intended impact during the monitoring and evaluation.


Photo of Richard Hatfield

Hi Isaac - many thanks for your comment and my apologies for the delay in response.
The team involved is my team of 4 working with a community team in each site. In terms of impact monitoring, an integral part will be community determining the measures of success, coming out of the work they do on self-assessment of their own context that they wish to change / create. As mentioned in the idea, we are looking at using Outcome Mapping as a participatory M&E framework. Please feel free to keep in touch! Richard.

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