Factors That Facilitated Learning Through a Central American Community-Based Pest Management Project: An Exploration Of Non-Formal Educational Practice

Laura Sims


Food security is essential for human well-being. Intending to improve human and environmental health, increase agricultural productivity, and reduce poverty in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras, the Canadian International Development Agency's (CIDA) Community-based pest management in Central American
agriculture project focused on developing programmes and policies that could impact local, national and regional agricultural practices regarding the handling, storage and use of pesticides. In international development initiatives, such as this one, participatory approaches to governance provide opportunities for learning through public engagement in decision-making processes. This longitudinal qualitative case study examines what processes, activities and factors enabled, and/or constrained learning from participation in this CIDA project. Findings reveal what learning-focused, meaningful participatory approaches to governance look like in practice. Results show that learning occurred through strategic-level planning and implementation of project activities and through opportunities to experiment with newly acquired knowledge and skills. Other considerations included: (a) clearly
establishing learning goals, (b) understanding learners' characteristics, and (c) creating effective pedagogical approaches for learners. Policy and practical implications are explored.

Keywords: Central America agriculture, learning for sustainability, public participation, rural development, transformative learning

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The Journal of Rural and Community Development is supported by SSHRC.