When learning counts

By Elna de Beer – Technical Associate

There is a saying that you are responsible for your own learning and there is no place better to see this than in learning exchanges. To bring people together and let them learn from each other’s mistakes, lessons, and successes, is a very rewarding way of effectively growing capacity in teams. Learning exchanges is one of the approaches that SAWC is using with success with the Community Engagement Teams (CETs) of Banhine National Park (BNP) and Zinave National Park (ZNP).

We have seen this once again in the second learning exchange between these two teams taking place in September 2023 at ZNP, this time joined by practitioners from Coutada 5, a neighbour of ZNP. Following the formal training session in Community Practice in Responsible Resource Use, the learning exchange focused on community governance, livelihoods projects and technical processes, linked to annual planning and performance evaluation of CETs.

The BNP team: Herculano Ernesto and Paulo Chambisse shared learnings on the establishment of the Comitès de Gestão de Recursos Naturais (CGRNs). They presented their experience over the past year linked to establishing relationships with community leadership and structures. They have successfully established several CGRNs in the BNP buffer zone and has now commenced with training to build capacity within these structures. Two governance-based training events took place and seventy-five people took part. One of the main lessons shared by the BNP, was the time it took to set up the CGRNs which depended significantly on the strength of relationship between the team and the community leaders and structures. The message was: “Go slow to go fast”.

The pictures show the BNP team effectively using small groups and participatory rural appraisal techniques, such as social mapping and visioning using the livelihood pentagon to ensure community involvement in understanding resource use in the areas. These pictures are from the workshops held in Chigubo and Sauté, shared with the courtesy of the BNP team.

The ZNP team: João Vaz and Dickson Ucucho shared their experiences with the establishment of the CGRNs. ZNP has a longstanding inter-community association called the Vuka Zinave Association (VZA) which have already started receiving direct benefits from ZNP to support community projects. The VZA will be involved in the establishment of the CGRNs in the ZNP buffer zone and already form part of the ZNP required Conseilho de Gestão, chaired by the Park Warden. This process is ongoing. The ZNP team also shared their experience with the Cook Stove Project.

The learning exchange ended with the alignment between the Park Management Plan and the CET Annual Plan of Operation (APO) and how that develops annually. The BNP APO provided an example of their first APO developed in September 2022 being used as part of the overall performance appraisal of team members and feedback from that informing the development of the second APO (2024).

In the session, Herculano Ernesto (BNP) systematically took the groups through the various steps in developing the APO and spent one-on-one time with Castro Franque (C5) sharing how to use the APO template. See pictures.

Growing capacity in teams and in people is not a once off event, we have learned this over the past two years’ working with the teams of BNP and ZNP. The ability of teams to learn from each other and teaching each other on the lessons learned, is a strong indication that capacity and technical ability is growing.

We honour the CETs from BNP and ZNP for their work with communities and congratulate Administração Nacional das Áreas Conservação (ANAC) and the Peace Parks Foundation (PPF) for enabling these processes. SAWC looks forward to maintaining our working collaboration into 2024.

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