Community Based Adaptation Conference 2015 – Learning from failure at CBA9

Learning from failure at CBA9
By Noel Oettle

Over 300 participants in the Ninth Community Based Adaptation Conference in Nairobi joined a session entitled “Learning when things don’t go according to plan” on the first day of the meeting. Facilitated by Adaptation Network member Bettina Koelle, the session was designed to enable people to explore what they could learn from failed initiatives.

The session elicited high levels of participation from all by asking delegates to reflect on difficulties or failures that they had experienced, and to tap into this rich lode of learning to inform future decisions and actions. By creating a relatively anonymous and safe space in which delegates met in small groups, unencumbered by their professional identities, the process enabled people to explore the sorts of experience that they would normally not share with others, and to reflect on the implications for their practice. The ‘out of the box’ session broke with the usual mode of formal conference interaction, but this was only one aspect of why so many expressed their appreciation at being able to take part. The degree of openness displayed, and the warmth and camaraderie shared amongst all also enabled an unprecedented degree of connection and insight.