SOLLINKKA: SOcial Learning LINKing Knowledge with Action

Prolinnova and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) collaborated for three years (2013-15) in “Social Learning LINKing Knowledge with Action” (SOLLINKKA). This fitted into CCAFS’ theme “Integration for decision-making”, which aimed at making knowledge useful for policymakers and ensuring effective engagement of rural communities in research. In SOLLINKKA, Prolinnova partners engaged in social learning on the ground to demonstrate the value of the Participatory Innovation Development (PID) approach in strengthening resilience of farming communities in the face of climatic and other change, e.g. through:

  • Facilitation of multistakeholder platforms (MSPs) for joint learning
  • Transdisciplinary collaboration in PID
  • Scaling up Local Innovation Support Funds (LISFs) as mechanisms to change the power balance in decision-making about agricultural research & development (ARD)
  • Process documentation and farmer-led documentation as tools for joint learning
  • Various forms of communication relevant for smallholders.

Prolinnova understands “social learning” as a process in which multiple stakeholders gain mutual understanding of a situation and co-generate relevant knowledge based on joint action and reflection. In highly diverse smallholder farming, the intensification and scaling out of such local learning cycles will increase community resilience to change. The aim is not to scale up local innovationS but rather to scale up decentralised and continuing local innovation processes. The partnership with CCAFS gave Prolinnova a chance to expand its social learning activities and CCAFS a chance to explore how the PID approach enhances community resilience to change.

During the inception phase (Sept–Dec 2012), mapping of Prolinnova and CCAFS sites and partners and discussion with CCAFS regional teams about current activities and plans, proximity of sites and common partner organisations led to selection of two countries for collaboration in SOLLINKKA: Kenya in Eastern Africa and Senegal in West Africa.

The work at national level in Kenya and Senegal included:

  • Identifying and documenting innovations to adapt to climatic and other change
  • Training partners in PID to adapt to change
  • Facilitating farmer-led joint experimentation on local innovations and relevant options from elsewhere
  • Facilitating national and subnational multi-stakeholder platforms
  • Documentation and communication on promoting local innovation and PID
  • Policy dialogue on MSPs to promote PID and other forms of social learning as ways to deal with challenges of climate change, agriculture, food security and rural livelihoods.

The work at international level included:

  • Week on Agricultural Innovation in Africa: Prolinnova International Partners Workshop (IPW), Eastern African Farmer Innovation Fair and International Workshop on Agricultural Innovation Systems in Africa (May 2013)
  • Communication on how MSPs and other social-learning mechanisms contribute to building resilient communities
  • Backstopping to CPs in documenting change processes and facilitating reflection-action learning cycles
  • Joint learning from assessment of Prolinnova’s 10 years of experience with PID, both in the Country Platforms and at the annual International Partners Workshop, including documentation of the impact of social learning on change processes
  • Collaboration between Prolinnova, CCAFS and Aquatic Agricultural Systems (AAS) in a study of the impact of farmer-led research approaches in strengthening local capacities to innovate
  • Support to partners in organising the West Africa Farmer Innovation Fair and workshop on farmer-led research approaches in 2015
  • Website inputs and blogs on farmer-led research approaches in strengthening social learning and community resilience to continuous change.

An overview of SOLLINKKA that was presented at the IPW 2013 can be found here.

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