Agroecology for resilient and sustainable livelihoods of natural disaster affected communities in Myanmar. Lessons from the STRONG project approach to farmer field schools (FFS) in Chin State and Sagaing Region.
Rural people in South-East-Asia have, for centuries, adapted their livelihoods to cope with natural disaster risks. But climate change and transitions from traditional to industrial modes of farming have changed the vulnerabilities of these people and their communities. Farm reliant households, in Myanmar and across the region, are increasingly exposed to market forces and disruptive impacts of extreme weather events. New approaches to rural development, which enable communities to build resilient and sustainable livelihoods are therefore needed. The STRONG project’s approach to farmer field schools (FFS), promoting agroecological practices for poor, rural households in western Myanmar, is an example of such approaches. In 2016, Ar Yone Oo – Social Development Association and Welthungerhilfe partnered to initiate the STRONG project – in response to severe landslide and flooding events that devastated rural communities in Myanmar during the 2015 Monsoon season. The project supports disaster affected households to recover their livelihoods and build long-term resilience, through a portfolio of complementary disaster risk reduction and rural development interventions. This brief (i) provides an introduction to the STRONG project approach to adult learning in FFS, (ii) documents agroecological practices that the initiative promotes in target communities and (iii) presents key insight from the STRONG project for inter-organisational learning and knowledge exchange. The presentation builds on results of a collaboration between Ar Yone Oo (Myanmar) and Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden), formed to document lessons from the STRONG project implementation process, and assess project beneficiaries’ experiences with promoted agroecological practices.