A Methodological Orientation for Social Learning Based Adaptation Planning: Lessons from Pilot Interventions in Rural Communities of Burkina Faso, Chile and Senegal

  • Radhika MurtiEmail author
  • Sarah-Lan Mathez-Stiefel
  • Stephan Rist
Original Paper


Social learning processes have untapped potential to integrate knowledge and experiences across a diverse group of stakeholders, including strengthening a community’s ability to transfer their local knowledge and experiences in dealing with change, to develop locally relevant Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) strategies. This paper evaluates experiences from the application of a CCA planning methodology that leverages social learning as the main approach for local communities to plan and design their CCA strategies in Burkina Faso, Chile and Senegal. In each case, the paper analyses the key features of the emerging social learning processes during the application of the methodology, presents and analyses participants’ feedback and impressions of the process, as well as facilitators’ feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of the methodology. An engaging social learning process was demonstrated through observing varying levels of occurrence of seven features - the pooling of different fields and forms of knowledge amongst the participants; creation of joint language; reshaping of perceptions and preconceptions; transformation of attitudes and patterns of communications; redefining of roles in the learning process; establishment of common values and mutual trust building. The methodology was referred to as being simple, inclusive, helping create ownership and highly interactive, by facilitators who used it. While this research demonstrated the immediate and short-term impacts of social learning to be positive for the CCA planning process, longer term monitoring is needed to fully understand the opportunities and limitations of social learning for CCA planning. In doing so, it is important to recognise the project driven modalities of CCA for rural communities is a limitation in itself in truly benefiting from the long-term benefits of social learning.


Climate change adaptation Social learning Participatory tool Transdisciplinary research 



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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)University of BernBernSwitzerland
  2. 2.International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)GlandSwitzerland

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