Last week I returned from my first working trip to Thuong Bang La commune in Van Chan district in Yen Bai province. Let me tell you, it was such an experience and I cannot wait to go back!
The purpose of this trip was to understand the farmers’ perceptions and lived realities in a changing climate. We held eight focus group discussions (FGD) in total – four for the men and four for the women.
During these discussions we employed tools to help us understand what is happening in the commune! Tools used include climate, cropping and historical calendars, resource and institutional mapping and activity clocks ⏰ These tools are so useful in helping us understand the situation in a region. For example, the cropping calendar tells us what the main crops grown are, what activities are associated with them and who is responsible for each activity; because this is done for male and female groups separately, we can build a picture for gendered perceptions of agricultural production also!
Historical calendars are also so interesting because they detail the types of historical events which affected the community. A drought or a flood for example. This allows researchers to understand the effects that changing weather patterns and climate has on people and agricultural systems. This can allow us to gain an insight into what people may need to make their communities and agricultural systems more resilient and also enables us to identify possible entry points for suitable CSA practices. It also demonstrates how the different genders perceive climate change effects and impacts. It’s is very interesting to see how this varies among the sexes and I am so interested and excited to explore why that is!
Men and women in Thuong Bang La kindly shared so much information with us freely. I really learned a lot from them and they were so nice and friendly towards me. Although I cannot speak the language, I learned so much and gained more confidence in working with groups of people.
Check out the “links” and “references” sections on my page if you’d like to learn more about the tools I used in the FGDs and how they work!