WOTR’s experience of organising and facilitating the TSP process in Jalna

11 Apr 2018 - 14:00

Jalna is a drought-prone district in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra, India, that frequently faces serious water challenges. This water shortage is a major issue for the people and local authorities and, as a result, in June 2017 the Watershed Organisation Trust (WOTR) initiated a TSP process in the Jalna district called ‘The Water Situation in Rural Jalna in 2030: for Domestic and Livelihood Needs’.

Forty stakeholder representatives from across Jalna – farmers from all landholding categories, landless poor, women, members of the Grampanchayat, farmer movements, government officials, a water sector scientist, academic institutions, college students, NGOs and media – participated actively, voicing their varied concerns and perspectives about the district’s water situation. The TSP process was applied for the first time in Maharashtra, facilitated by WOTR in the local language. It was an exciting experience for the facilitators, as much as there was anxiety and concern, since there was no TSP expert from Reos Partners to fall back on.

The following are key observations, experiences, and learning we gathered through the two workshops of the process:

1. The WOTR team’s active participation in the ASSAR TSP workshop at the IIHS, Bangalore, was important for our understanding of the TSP concept and process. Each day, we discussed the application of each step to the Jalna context, and also mapped the potential challenges and steps to make it workable in a rural setting. Close interaction with Karen Goldberg from Reos Partners during the events, as well as Skype interactions, contributed greatly. The exposure to the Bangalore TSP process provided us with adequate clarity and confidence to apply this process in another language and region.   

2. Identifying the title/theme of the TSP is crucial. It needs to be a burning topic that affects the majority of rural areas in the district. It also needs to be specific and focused. Our facilitation team gave adequate time for this process. A ‘reference group’ was formed consisting of a district government officer, a water expert, a representative of an agriculture training institute and an NGO. The reference group members were also active in identifying the specific stakeholders who are affected by and engaging with the topic in the real-life situation. The reference group stated that even formulating the topic of the TSP was enlightening and they enjoyed participating in the open and frank discussions.

3. Although engaging government officials throughout the process was challenging, we did achieve some success at least in helping them realise that they are key stakeholders and that their engagement is essential, even as early in the process as identifying the burning theme. Besides them being involved in the reference group, we also had a good representation of government officials at the first TSP workshop; this, however, was reduced to only one representative at the second TSP workshop. Nevertheless, we’ve been active in providing them with feedback and reporting on both workshops, in order to get greater buy-in when the time for action comes.

4. The biggest challenge the facilitation team faced was translating and interpreting specific concepts and terms of the TSP methodology into Marathi, the local language, so that it was easily understood by all participants, including villagers. Intensive effort and much work was put in by the facilitating team to arrive at the appropriate word/question/explanation – all in simple and easily-understood Marathi.

5. The mode of discussions, and viewing all participants on the same social level (although for cultural reasons one could not use first names), worked very well – everyone participated actively, sharing opinions, experiences and concerns. Even village women were actively involved and listened to. To prepare the models of different scenarios we used simple local material like differently-coloured chart paper and sheets, modelling clay, crayons, coloured sketch pens, scissors and glue (rather than the Lego used in other contexts). The participants found these materials easy to use to develop creative scenarios which could be easily understood by members of other groups. This was an important lesson considering the general rural background of the participants. 

The biggest challenge was translating and interpreting specific TSP concepts into Marathi, the local language.

6.  Using role play to present scenarios is a powerful way to share opinions and experiences, while evoking issues of relevance. The participants were very familiar with using this method to present real-life experiences about specific scenarios.

7. What was particularly rewarding was the discussions between participants outside the ‘workshop’ sessions – even late into the night. They were all active and eager to continue discussions with people they had not met before the workshop. Their ‘discovery’ of key aspects that emerged during the second workshop gives hope. As one man shared: “We have never thought about what should be avoided. We just take up ideas without considering the negative side.” A woman shared: “When we face drought, it is at those times we take action to survive. It is important, though, that we take proactive measures to conserve and harvest water and use water judiciously even in a year of normal rainfall. If we do that, the impact of drought will not be as severe.”

8. The last important stage of the TSP methodology is for us to take this process forward towards action. This is a crucial step and relies on the level of interest and commitment of other stakeholders throughout the process.

For our facilitation team, it was very exciting to organise and facilitate a TSP process in a local language for the first time. There was a lot of engagement and openness to learn and contribute during the process. There was a willingness to listen to one another and make modifications to our facilitation as appropriate. The different strengths of our team members complemented each other well and helped to fill any gaps.

The entire team was focused on achieving the same outcome: engaging all participants towards a common dream, and being hopeful that through further action we can make a positive difference together. 

This article first appeared in the March 2018 ASSAR Spotlight