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HER+ Stakeholder workshop paves the way for piloting Learning Labs in India

NEW DELHI, INDIA, 27-28 November 2023 — The CGIAR Initiative on  Gender Equality, HER+ convened for workshop with stakeholders who are playing a pivotal role in designing and piloting Socio-technical Innovation Bundles (STIBs) in learning labs in West Bengal and Odisha in India. This workshop was part of the process of co-designing and implementing STIBs. These bundles, designed collaboratively together with women farmers, aim to enable them to gain better access to climate-smart innovations that suit them best. This participatory approach ensures a strategic combination of social, technical, and technological innovations, meticulously tailored to address the diverse needs and perspectives of the communities.

The workshop created a space for implementing partners to align their efforts seamlessly, as they engaged in discussions about their roles and responsibilities in the learning labs. It was represented by our partners, which include the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), Professional Assistance for Development Action (PRADAN), Society for Equitable Voluntary Actions (SEVA), and Change Initiatives in West Bengal and the World Vegetable Center, and Sahabhagi Vikash Abhiyan (SVA) in Odisha, as they are piloting the learning labs to implement STIBs in Odisha. Sattva Consulting Pvt. Ltd. is partnering for framing of the comprehensive Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) system for a systematic implementation and measuring the impacts of STIBs in the learning labs. The Theory of Change, co-designed by the partners led by Sattva Consulting, provided a common ground for creating a shared vision for achieving the outcomes of the learning labs. The Theory of Change has been a joint effort of all the learning lab and MEL partners and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), which started in the previous stakeholder workshops to make the process participatory, demand driven, and context specific. At this workshop, over intense deliberations, partners crafted a strategic plan outlining how they would operate within their respective learning lab locations over the next one year.

Navigating time constraints:

The participants acknowledged the comprehensive planning process, but also highlighted the inherent challenge of balancing extensive planning with the urgency to execute. Meticulous planning since the groundwork, though time-consuming, is an essential step for fostering effective collaboration among multiple stakeholders.

"This project demands meticulous planning and organizational efforts. This thorough and empowering planning process is an investment in the success of multi-stakeholder platforms like the learning labs, where collaboration is key to cohesive, transformative, and impactful outcomes”- Hom N. Gartaula, Senior Scientist, IRRI.

Ready for Roll-out:

After a rigorous planning and design process, the context-specific STIBs, designed in a participatory manner with farmers and other key stakeholders, are now ready to be rolled out in the respective learning labs. This transition marks a significant milestone for the team, signaling not only the completion of a meticulous groundwork but the beginning of tangible actions that will contribute to enhancing the resilience of women in the agri-food system who are in the eye of the climate crisis. The planning and execution would be an iterative process and the partners will convene periodically to reflect upon the progress and whether the pathways identified in the ToC hold.

“Such an iterative approach, I believe, not only enables adaptive management by giving enough scope of learning for farmers, researchers, and development practitioners from what is working and what is not in the field, but also ensures a continual refinement of strategies, contributing to the overall success of the initiative”, said Ranjitha Puskur, Principal Scientist, IRRI.

The learning labs are a testament to collaborative efforts of the Initiative’s aim to form multi-stakeholder platforms.