Training researchers in Venezuela

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1-day Cobra training in Caracas

November 23, 2015

On the 7th November 2015, a one-day training course on Cobra’s community owned solutions approach was held at the IDEA research centre in Caracas, Venezuela. The twenty participants were from a range of research backgrounds including biology, sociology and anthropology.

The training was part of the Participatory and Intercultural Fire Management project and centred around an introduction to the COBRA Handbook, which provides detailed and easily accessible explanations on key concepts and techniques, alongside a series of activities which can be carried out with communities.

Following a presentation on Cobra’s key concepts and methods, the participants took part in a practical session to identify community owned strategies using the system viability approach. Selecting a community context of their choice, group members took on a role such as leader, elder, mother, fisher, youth, to discuss from their role perspective the important strategies for survival according to system viability. These strategies were then evaluated to identify community owned solutions.

In the afternoon, the participants storyboarded, videoed and produced a film of a community owned solution. There was much animated discussion and laughter as ideas were transformed into short films. At the end of the day, the films were screened and there was an opportunity to feedback to the group on the activities of the day.

Here is a selection of some of the participants reflections (translated from Spanish):

What do think about the community owned solutions approach?

  • Offers transformative tools to enhance the role of local actions, using simple and easily manageable strategies for communities
  • I like the idea of focusing on the solutions and not only the problems
  • It is a powerful tool with a lot of potential
  • I think it is an important approach because it is the communities who know how they can face and overcome problems.

What did you like about the workshop?

  • The simplicity of the tools and their ability to adapt to local dynamics
  • The tablets and the dynamics of making the films – super interactive and easy to use
  • The emphasis to focus on identifying community strategies and challenges; also I found the multi-disciplinary component very important

The COBRA team would like to thank all of the participants for their enthusiasm and willingness to share their experiences with the group. The key feedback was the need for more training and opportunities to discuss how individuals can use the community owned solutions approach in their own work. So we hope to organise a longer training course next year. Hasta la próxima!


Follow Jay Mistry:

Professor of Geography - Royal Holloway University of London

Jay has more than 22 years’ experience in teaching, researching and building capacity for natural resource management with local communities. Her particular interests include supporting local livelihoods and biodiversity conservation, local environmental governance, action research using participatory video and capacity building for natural resource management.