Tailor-made training to strengthen the training capacity of NTNC to better mainstream a food security agenda in the management of prime conservation areas in Nepal.
Linking Parks to People
In this particular Tailor-made Training project, CDI worked with LI-BIRD to strengthen the capacity of the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) in Nepal. NTNC works in and around eight prime conservation landscapes such as the Annapurna Conservation Area (ACAP) and Chitwan National Park (CNP). The organisation works with farmers living in these areas (mainly in the park buffer zones). The livelihoods of these farmers are highly associated with conservation activities in the positive (engaged in tourism activities) and the negative sense (human-wildlife conflicts). Even though the conservation area resources have potential to generate employment and income, the number of people living in poverty is still high.
The aim of NTNC is to nurture the parks and people linkages for the benefit of both. The 435 staff of NTNC play a mix of roles towards achieving the organisations mandate: research, extension, technical advice to different stakeholders, investments in management, and training. Training community groups, farmers, and local leadership is an important part of an estimated half of NTNC staff.
Technical expertise is not always enough to make a difference
NTNC staff are predominantly specialists with technical expertise in either the conservation or development domain. During project implementation it was recognised that having such expertise does not automatically make you a good trainer. Having skills in curriculum design, adult education, creating an effective learning environment, and facilitation is not a given.
Also, where previously training programmes were largely technical transfer of knowledge on management and conservation of natural resources, in recent years the need for training in integrated conservation and development programme approaches has become more opportune. Hence there is a need to have the capacity to design new training programmes that feature complex concepts such as sustainable livelihoods, food security, climate adaptation, access to land an resources; all training topics that cannot be taught but around which joint learning has to be facilitated. This imminent shift from technical teaching to joint learning requires different approaches to curriculum design and didactics, and therefore different skills of NTNC trainers.
Training of trainers of trainers...
To make efficient use of project resources a ToT approach was used. NTNC identified 17 potential Master Trainers whose capacity was strengthened in designing and delivering demand-driven and competency-based short courses for the NTNC target groups. The Master Trainers trained around 60 colleague trainers in the 8 NTNC conservation areas in both the mountainous as well as the low-lying areas in Nepal. During this stage of training, Master Trainers were provided coaching support by LI-BIRD staff. In the next phase of the project, the trained trainers offered around 10 short courses on various topics to community groups, village leaders, and farmers to test out the newly emerging training approach. This time coached by the Master Trainers.
The one-year project ended with two events: a reflection workshop with the Master Trainers to consolidate what we now call the NTNC training approach, and to perfect the training of trainers curriculum. Secondly, a high-level workshop was staged at NTNC HQ to agree on what it takes to institutionalise and further develop this new training approach in the future.