Odacy Davis


COBRA Approach in the Rainforest

COBRA Handbook training at the Iwokrama River Lodge

February 25, 2015

Community members and staff of the Iwokrama International Centre took part in training on how to use the COBRA Practitioners Handbook from the 16th to 19th February, 2015. The training provided the opportunity for the participants to learn another approach to engage their community members in dealing with community issues.

IMG_2382Wonderful, Amazing, Fun, Different, Passion, Wow, One in a Million, Inspiring, Educational, Innovative, COBRA Nation are some of the words used by participants to express their impression of the four day COBRA Handbook Training held at the Iwokrama River Lodge and Research Centre, Kurupukari from Monday 16th – Thursday 19th, February, 2015.

IMG_2411An average of 28 persons attended the training daily comprising Staff of Iwokrama (Rangers, Tour Guides, managers, Cooks, Drivers, Maintenance), Katoonarib COBRA Team, Students of Bina Hill Learning Centre, CREWS/CMRVS representatives of Fairview, Aranaputa and Wowetta Villages. The training was facilitated by the COBRA Team, commencing with a passionate presentation by Ryan Benjamin on the Importance of Community Owned Solutions. Participants were then introduced to the handbook and the training schedule for the week. A screening of the best practice on Management of Bush Islands in Katoonarib was shown to give participants an understanding of the focus of the project.

IMG_6114Three main groups were soon selected and task with the responsibility of identifying challenges and finding solutions for those challenges. Participants were very keen on bringing many social issues to the centre of their discussions. Over the next two days the groups worked on refining their challenges and identifying solutions. During this process, identification of indicators and thresholds were done, which proved to be the most challenging activity of the training.

IMG_6131Very soon however, the teams were developing their storyboards and planning for the capture of videos and photos to tell their stories. The teams were highly motivated, and worked tirelessly to ensure that the best videos and photos were captured during their role play. In the end three amazing videos were produced under the following themes;

  1.        Teenage Pregnancy in Schools
  2.        Improving community livelihood through ecotourism
  3.        Overharvesting of Wildlife in local communities

IMG_2173During the training, participants were responsible for leading the icebreaker activities as well as the recap sessions. At the end of the first day, each participant was given an opportunity to share their views, while other participants captured it on film. These were subsequently screened in the evening – most participants were excited to view themselves speaking on camera. This activity also helped them to build their confidence in front and behind the camera.

IMG_2202On the final day participants were taken on field trips to Turtle Mountain and Canopy Walkway. This was an awesome experience for many persons, especially those visiting from Katoonarib Village South Rupununi. During the field trips, participants recorded their views of the entire training. The training ended with a Mini COBRA Festival which was attended by all participants and other Iwokrama Staff.

IMG_2232The three videos produced by the teams were first screened, followed by cultural items performed by each group. Uncle Francis of Katoonarib remarked that the bringing together of people from different villages and organizations is a brilliant idea since it is helping villages to collectively develop solutions for common challenges experienced in the region. As the participants reflected on their week of training, the COBRA Team suddenly realized it was the end of a great project. With much fan fare, well wishes, tears and goodbyes, participants left energized and committed to addressing challenges they face, using the COBRA approach. Let COBRA live on they say!

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