Learning is a key activity of the Igunga Eco-village project. The Farmer Field Schools (FFS) are an important element of the learning agenda. The FFS approach ensures local sustainability and ownership of the implemented activities. The project also facilitates knowledge sharing with policy makers at district and higher levels, and with the international community of practitioners.
Farmer Field Schools
In all 9 villages Farmer Field Schools are set up, 240 schools in total. Each group consists of 25 members. Members learn from each other by experimenting and reflecting. In this process, the participants are students and teachers at the same time. They have to understand the innovative practices that are introduced by the project, but they also share their local expertise to test and evaluate these techniques. Per group two farmers are selected and trained as facilitators. Their farms serve as learning and demonstration sites. Members meet regularly (every week on average) for trainings or meetings. There are exchange visits among the different FFS in the project and with previous Eco-villages of the first phase of this European Union program.
In the Farmer Field Schools various subjects are discussed and experimented, such as improved livestock husbandry, animal health, manure use and composting, planting of pasture, haymaking, planned grazing, crop husbandry, pest control and fish farming. The FFS also address the other technologies in this project for water and renewable energy. The farmers choose the techniques they are going to implement. With their knowledge of the local context they are the ones who test, evaluate and eventually adopt the strategies they deem best.
Learning within the district
Through the FFS as a participatory learning model, the project is systematically collecting and analyzing lessons from the climate change adaptation strategies that are piloted. These lessons are compared with those from other eco-village projects and triangulated with relevant academic and non-academic resources. Evaluated and documented lessons and experiences are used to develop different publications like policy briefs and technical guides targeting specific policy makers and implementers. These stakeholders are also directly engaged by visiting their meetings (Association of Local Authorities of Tanzania (ALAT), District Consultative Committees (DCC), Regional Consultative Committees (RCC) and inviting them to project events. Exchange visits and field days are organized, next to participatory video productions. The establishment of an extensive learning structure also enables the project to inject lessons back into the project and share them with the participants.
International learning community
The Igunga Eco-village project actively engages with other projects in the GCCA program to integrate lessons into a broader learning process. This website gets regular updates, see the news page. Three webinars are organized to stimulate cross-sector reflection and Heifer Nederland participates in online learning platforms. Publications of learned lessons are promoted on these places.