Envisioning training in Lakhimpur


A community-based ‘envisioning’ exercise was conducted in Lakhimpur, Assam, from 28 July to 6 August 2013. 

The envisioning is a participatory research method that is designed to explore the anticipation of plausible future of the communities in the context of changes, particularly climate change.

The training was conducted by Aaranyak, a Guwahati-based NGO working in the field of biodiversity conservation in northeast India, in collaboration with Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and Oslo-based Centre for International Climate and Environment Research (CICERO)

The training, called ‘Community-based Envisioning and Flexible Flood Management Planning with Field Validation’, was part of the ongoing research on ‘Building adaptive capacity through collective learning and flexible planning in the Eastern Brahmaputra River Basin, India’. 

Flexible flood management planning has four main activities: participatory flood mapping, monitoring, envisioning, and flexible flood management planning. Of the four activities, the first two were conducted in March 2013. 

The main goal of the training was to teach participants conduct envisioning exercise in the community. The exercise has four primary steps. In the first step, people are asked to discuss non-climatic drivers of changes that could play a strong role in shaping a community’s future. In the second step, major drivers of change and climate change are discussed and three major changes are identified and listed. 

In the third step, two future scenarios are generated on the basis of three major changes identified at the end of the second step. Storylines are prepared at the end of the three steps that help guide discussions in the next step. In the fourth step, people are asked to make a presentation and discuss the two final future scenarios identified at the end of the third step.  In this way, the ultimate future scenario is developed from the entire envisioning exercise. Output of the envisioning exercise is incorporated in the flexible flood management planning.

Dr Petra Tschakert, Professor of Geography at Pennsylvania State University, USA, was the main instructor at the training. A total of 12 participants from different organizations including ICIMOD, CICERO, Aaranyak, and District Disaster Management Authority of Dhemaji and Lakhimpur participated in the training. 

The training started with a presentation on key concepts of climate change followed by another one on the concept, historical overview, development, and steps of scenario building. The major steps and the content of the envisioning exercise were broadly discussed and practiced. Participants were trained to perform the role of facilitator, co-facilitator, note-taker, and storyline maker. The whole process was practised several times during the training.

After the training, the team successfully conducted envisioning exercise in two communities of Soroni in Singara and Dihiri in Jiadhal river basin.