Game with communities

Played in Ethiopia July 2012

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Gorosole, Ambo, Oromia Ethiopia
Shambu, Oromia, Ethiopia
Maksenit, Gondar, Ethiopia
Zefie, Debre Tabor Ethiopia

Identify communities wishes about rainwater management, understand what hampers adoption of rainwater management at community level
number of participants

8-10 participants per group, in each location the game was played with a women and a men group.
card allocation

self-selected for men, random allocation for women
landscape definition

participatory mapping exercises
amounts of landscapes

1 per group
cards in the game

practice the participant knew about
exchange rules

no exchange possible, but there was as many rounds as necessary until all the cards that the participant wanted to discuss where discussed. The group could decide to abandon a card
Strategies developed in the game :

What are the major lessons learned in terms of water management ?
In every watershed we came across farmers with innovative ideas that in our opinion could be a good entry point for rainwater management. Whereas in some watersheds, the entry point is a rainwater related practice we have or modeled or listed in our extended list of rainwater practices, some of the practices such as poultry were quite unexpected, but the community could make a clear case why it contributes to water management.
Table 6 shows from our perspective the most promising practice in each landscape, the hampering factor and what and who is needed to make it happen. A promising practice is a practice that is not yet or insufficiently adopted within the watershed, it is a practice that makes sense in terms of water management and that is wished by the community.
Table 6 : most promising practice in the watershed
Most promising practice
Hampering factor
What is needed?
Who could help
Lack of access to seedlings

Small scale poultry
Lack of knowledge
Poultry training
Beehives combined with lowland fruit trees
Access to seedling
Increase the offer from the governmental tree nursery
Governmental nursery
Small scale poultry
Disease control
Poultry training
Lack in seedling
Get the local tree nursery to produce apple seeds
combined with wells and beehives
Lack of credit
Set up an “equub”

In Gorosole, the most promising practice is the apple tree. The community would like to have apples but does not know how to access seedling. Also the community did not mention that apple need water during the dry season and therefore needs to be combined with a water access such as diversion, well or pond. This suggests that they might not know what is needed for apple trees and they might need to get some training. As no NGO is active in the area, it is difficult to identify who could help with the apple trees. Seedling could be brought from Shambu.
In Shambu, small scale poultry came out as the most promising practice. As chicken are expensive farmers could get more income through poultry and more easily destock on livestock. The farmers claim that they cannot have more chicken, because it is too cold and lots of fecund eggs do not survive. They think that they need an incubator, which does not really help if there are power cuts and not back-up system. There might be option to get more chicken without incubator, by keeping more chicken together during the breeding. Also as soon as the chicken population increases disease control in needed. Expert knowledge and training would be needed to enable them to get more healthy chicken at very little costs.
Like in Shambu, poultry has been mentioned in Maksenit and the same rational applies. In addition, the home gardens combined with beehives seems to be a promising practice, as more tree are planted and income of the farmers can be diversified. For those farmers who have access to water during the dry season, the major hampering factor is the access to tree seedling other that the multipurpose tree (they produce themselves). Cooperation should be sought with the governmental tree nursery and with ICARDA for practices that increase water access during the dry season.
In Zefie, similarly to Maksenit a combination of fruit tree with beehives is a promising combination of practices. Apples trees are already in the watershed and the knowledge is available, but no one is producing seedlings. One could seek Tana-Beles and propose that the new tree nursery also produces apple trees.
Both for the poultry and for the tree, it is not sufficient to make sure that the farmer can supply the products but also that they have sufficient market linages. If too many fruits or chicken come on the local market the price is likely to fall. Therefore making a functioning market linkage is crucial along the promotion of the practice. The Shambu case showed that it is relatively difficult to sell the apples, despite of their high prices in the major Ethiopian cities.

What are the major lessons learned to improve the games?
This focus group discussion was the first trial of the happy strategy with communities. In general the approach went well. The mapping exercise went very well for all the focus group discussions.
In Oromia region, involving women and get them actively involved into the drawing of the map and the gluing of the land use colored papers was difficult. Facilitators in Amhara were asked to involve women more actively which worked well. Also women are more likely to be illiterate, making it more difficult to read the cards. After the Oromia experience, women where therefore allocated a card (whereas man could choose their cards). Every card was explained for every woman making sure that she knows what card she has. This worked better than letting them choose the cards.
The happy strategy worked better in locations where farmer had a clear vision of where they want to be in 5 years from now. As such, the happy strategy tool could be a very interesting tool to involve communities as part of a longer process, if a vision building exercises is implemented beforehand.
Finally, working with young people with little experience and variable level of motivation made it sometimes very difficult to implement the focus group. This also explains the difference in quality in the reporting from the different sites. But every person that contributes to the focus group in a second round, made progress. Therefore these focus group discussion should also been seen as a capacity building to our partners and our own staff in facilitation and participatory approaches. Getting a pool of facilitators who know how to implement the happy strategy game for communities could ensure better quality data collection in future.