Training on Moderation and Participatory Rapid Appraisal Methods for PONRE Staff

In recent months, ProCEEd further extended its human capacity development efforts  to environmental authorities (PONRE, DONRE) at the provincial and district level. For example, ProCEEd's  development

advisor conducted  aworkshop on environmental education in Khammouane in August, 2016. As a follow up, twenty PONRE and DONRE staff from Khammouane, Houaphan, Bolikhamxai and Sayaboury joined a 3-day workshop on methods related to Moderation and Visualization for Group Events (MOVE) and Participatory Rapid Appraisal (PRA) in Vientiane on 5-7 Sept, 2016. Participants learned how such methods can be used appropriately with target groups in ProCEEd's non-formal environmental education activities in the mentioned provinces. On the first two days, participants in small working groups practiced a variety of moderation and visualization methods and tools related to cooperation, interaction and communication such as brainstorming, exercises, games, working in groups, teambuilding, producing tailor-made posters etc. in class.



The training participants learned how to design, plan and organize future workshops, discussion rounds and awareness raising events, particularly in rural areas. They reflected upon their role as a facilitator, keeping in mind that they will need visualization competence to foster general understanding and communication, and participation competence to bring out the best in a group of people. Learning is most effective when all individuals contribute to the process of problem solving and the identification of creative solutions. This is why MOVE is sometimes also called the ‘3H approach’. 3H or Heads-Hearts-Hands symbolize cognitive, emotional and practical learning – to


know, to feel and to do. This type of interactive adult education appeals to all senses and is based on three major working principles - moderation, visualization and experiential learning: What we hear we forget, what we see we remember, what we do we understand.


Hence, MOVE is a tool to elicit ideas and reach group consensus on key issues at stake. MOVE facilitators act as ‘communication butlers’ to a group of learners. They bring a group together, and develop and balance its potentials in a non-dominating way that is based on the notion “Nobody knows everything but everybody knows something”. They are knowledgeable about the issues at stake without showing this off. Asking and formulating the right question at the right time is one of their most important tasks. He or she is fluent in visualizing and presenting questions, in elaborating on the individual steps of a certain topic, or on discussion results. Also, MOVE moderators master a variety of games and exercises to enhance group dynamics and organize plenary sessions as well as team work in a well-planned, scripted way.


On Day 2 and 3, participants practiced selected PRA elements in a real-life field exercise at the hotel venue. Their task was to find out about the situation and problems related to solid waste management and recycling at Rose Boutique Hotel. Target groups at the hotel were managers, chambermaids, and staff responsible for waste disposal.

More specifically, they collected data on 1-volume of waste, 2-composition of waste (wet/organic and dry fraction), 3-recycable waste (paper, bottles, plastic etc.). Also, they found out which other actors are involved in solid waste management and recycling outside the Rose Boutique Hotel, e.g. municipal waste collectors, private recycling companies etc.


Participants  used the PRA tools described below on the premises of the Rose Boutique Hotel: 1-transect walk, 2-mapping, 3-FGD, 4-resource use and 5-trend analysis. They had a half a day to finalize their task, and presented results in plenary using a map with results from their transect walk, and a poster showing the resource use and trend analysis.


Participatory Rapid Appraisal (PRA) refers to a number of tools by which a facilitator may assist rural communities in visualizing their knowledge and share their understanding of their social and physical environment through drawings, models, and maps.


Transect Walks. In a transect walk, local people go along with outsiders to observe a community area. The walks help identify important aspects of the local biological, physical, and social environment. Facilitators let the community members talk and explain. They ask questions about important institutions within the community related to government, mass organizations, private sector, trade etc. In this case, the transect walk was done at and around the Rose Boutique Hotel by two groups of participants together with hotel employees.


Community Mapping. At the end of a transect walk, the information collected can be summarized in a community mapping. The map should be prepared by the community members. If necessary, it can be drawn on the ground using stones, sticks, sand, and other natural objects. The map can include, for example, houses, public buildings and infra-structure such as roads, markets, police, village hall, water wells etc. Also, rivers, forest, plantations, gardens, agricultural land, slash & burn areas, hunting grounds or places of illegal logging can be indicated.  The notes and map can be used in focus group discussions with community members. In this case, the two working groups  came up with maps of the hotel premises and its waste-related facilities and  features.


Focus Group Discussion (FGD). The notes and map from the transect walk can be used in focus group discussions with community members. The community members are often split up into four groups: 1-young men, 2-old men, 3-young women, 4-old women. This gives shy people a chance to speak out. At least men and women should discuss separately. The groups could discuss a variety of topics related to their livelihood and the natural environment in their community, e.g. seasonal calendars, use of resources, or trend analysis. In this case, the two working groups  concluded the walk and the map with FGDs with the hotel staff.


Seasonal calendar. The seasonal calendar shows the seasonal changes of (1) environmental impacts such as rainy or dry season and (2) agricultural and other work that needs to be done. It can also provide information on seasonal variations in local problems, resources, constraints, and opportunities. For illiterate people, symbols can be used, e.g. different lengths of sticks for different amounts of rainfall. In this case, the two working groups  asked the hotel management about seasonal fluctuations of guests and related waste generation. 


Resource Use & Trend Analysis. This tool is a starting point to dig deeper into specific problems, how they have evolved, how they will evolve in the future, and which action has to be taken to deal with them. The purpose of a trend analysis is to assess change over time. Often, it is used to raise the awareness of people regarding phenomena such as soil degradation, population dynamics, or water scarcity, all of which arise rather slowly. Facilitators let the community decide on the accurate indicators of the subject. For instance, if the subject is community well-being, they could ask the participants what constitutes a good life. They may list household income, transport facilities, numbers of livestock, access to clean water, etc. Facilitators ask the participants to state where they think they are now in relation to each indicator, where they were 5, 10, or 20 years ago, and where they think they will be in 5, 10, or 20 years. They join them in drawing a graph of the trend for each indicator. In this case, the two working groups consulted with the hotel staff concerning a trend analysis and future plans related to waste management and recycling efforts.


ProCEEd has been using MOVE and other interactive, participatory methods and tools in its non-formal environmental education and communication activities. These learning processes  may be assisted or facilitated by workshop participants in the near future.

The workshop was organized by a gender-balanced team of an international and a local MOVE moderator who made aphoto documentation of the training available for future reference.




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