Lakeram Haynes

Lakeram Haynes

North Rupununi District Development Board
North Rupununi, Guyana

A National Stakeholder Forum

Participants from the University of Royal Holloway, UK, the North Rupununi District Development Board (NRDDB), and Iwokrama International Centre meet in Georgetown, Guyana

October 20, 2013

On the 17th of October 2013, Project COBRA hosted a national stakeholder forum at the Dr. Cheddi Jagan Research Centre, with participants from a number of governmental and non-governmental organisations.

The main objectives of the forum were to:

  • Discuss the findings of the COBRA Project to date,
  • Introduce the methodologies and approaches used by the project to gather and disseminate the data, and
  • Introduce the Practitioners’ Handbook resulting from the work done.

The key objective, however, was to have participants discuss how the methods and materials developed by the project can be used in their organizations’ work and be used to influence the development of policies.

Project COBRA - Creative Commons

Project COBRA – Creative Commons

Odacy Davis, Project Manager within Iwokrama International Centre, introduced participants to the project’s work especially investigating local solutions. She revealed that the project was promoting a ‘bottom-up’ approach that may reveal existing, locally-owned solutions to challenges within a complex and rapidly changing environment. She also spoke about the objective of building capacity, within communities of the Guiana Shield countries, on the project’s research approach in identifying best practices, and seeing how well these best practices could be adapted by others. This work is being done during the final phase of the project.

Following the introductory session, Céline Tschirhart introduced the project’s research approach – system viability analysis and the methods of relaying the information gathered – participatory videos and photostories. The goal of system viability analysis is to build a picture of a system, in this case the community, to see how well it is functioning. This is done by identifying indicators within specific driving forces like the need of resources to exist, actions taken to resist unwanted changes, having choices to be flexible, being able to quickly adapt to permanent changes, performing ideally with little resources and being able to coexist with other systems. If good indicators are identified, they can tell if there is danger to the system and action can be taken before there is irrevocable and detrimental change.

Ryan Benjamin led the next presentation discussing the best practices that emerged from the research; what the challenges were and the solutions identified. He spoke about how the best practices were developed into videos and photostories. The participants were then treated to a short clip of the resistance video on transmitting culture to the youth.

To wrap up the presentation session, Odacy identified some of the cross cutting themes that emerged from the research like the importance of local traditional knowledge, the need for good leaders, working in a cooperative spirit and building partnerships and networks.

What followed were discussions by the participants on how their organizations could potentially use the approach, methods for dissemination and project materials within their work and how the outputs of the project could potentially be used to influence developmental policies. Some participants could easily identify with the approach as it was similar to what they were doing and could now readily identify their indicators within the driver system. They are particularly interesting in learning the results of the capacity building sessions with the Guiana Shield communities as it would strength their desire to be trained on the practitioner’s manual. A report from the forum will be written and disseminated to the participants and other stakeholders.

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QUICK DOWNLOAD: Check out the English version of the COBRA Handbook for Practitioners.