Q&A: CBA15 – build your skills

Article, 11 May 2021

The International Conference on Community-based Adaptation to Climate Change is the global gathering focused on grassroots adaptation to climate change. This year, for the first time, organisers are hosting a whole day dedicated to training. Here we learn how the day will work and discuss the wider aims of this initiative.

Teresa SarrocaThe 2021 conference on community-based adaptation (CBA15) will bring together practitioners, grassroots representatives, local and national government policymakers and donors working on climate change adaptation, particularly at the grassroots. 

CBA events have always been a space for sharing experiences – and this year, we are increasing our focus on learning. For the first time, we are dedicating a whole day to sharing and acquiring new skills. 

CBA15 will take place online from 14-18 June 2021, and June 17 will be the first CBA15 Training Day, with sessions showcasing practical skills across a range of topics. 

IIED’s Teresa Sarroca (TS) tells us about how the day will work and co-organisers Jenninah Kabiswa (JK) and Sarah Murungi Adyeri (SMA) set out their wider vision for sharing skills with the CBA community.

Q: What’s great about this year’s focus on training? 

TS: We’re excited about our programme! Our focus is on sharing: these sessions will see practitioners sharing the practical tools and approaches they have been using to generate effective action. Our ‘skillshare’ sessions will let participants contribute their experiences and discuss what they have learned with their peers – people in similar contexts working on similar issues.  

We’re emphasising interactive, dynamic formats. One of the highlights will be the Dragons’ Den, a multi-day learning programme for would-be local climate leaders that has led former participants to establish their own projects with real local impact. 

We’ve got a richly varied selection of sessions. For example:

  • How to do a podcast on a shoestring
  • What is community-led monitoring and evaluation?
  • How to write a blog, and
  • Hosting successful online events: sharing experiences.

To see the full list, visit the CBA15 agenda and filter your search by ‘peer-to-peer training’. 

Q: What are the benefits of taking part in a skillshare? 

TS: Sharing practical skills and knowledge gained at the grassroots level has always been a fundamental part of CBA events. 

The central question for a CBA skillshare is the ‘how’. How are people doing things differently? How will this improve the work I do? How can I apply this to my work? How does this work on a day-to-day basis? 

We want these sessions to go beyond hosts showcasing their activities and tools: we’re asking participants to engage actively with the presenters and explore the practical aspects of applying what’s on offer to their own day-to-day realities and contexts. 

The learning goes both ways: people who aren’t experienced trainers will gain confidence in delivering learning to their peers – colleagues who are working on similar issues. 

The focus is on sharing: making connections with new people, and expanding networks. 

Plus, you get a certificate for your personal development records!


Sarah Murungi AdyeriJenninah KabiswaCBA organisers have been working with Jenninah Kabiswa and Sarah Murungi Adyeri to develop the long-term vision for CBA training and a global CBA community of practice. 

Kabiswa is country lead at World Renew Kenya while Adyeri is based in Uganda and leads a project promoting access to health and enhancing the capabilities of women and girls to advocate for leadership and rights.

Q: What is the thinking behind CBA15’s Training Day? How is this different from other training events? 

JK: CBA ‘Training Day’ is certainly about building skills and sharing knowledge based on on-the-ground experience. But more importantly, it is also encouraging a change in attitude about who is doing the teaching and who is doing the learning – by creating open collaborative spaces.

We want to change the traditional framing of training as being about an ‘expert’ teaching trainees. CBA proposes that, in fact, the learning goes both ways; it’s not top-down, but rather a collaboration and a genuine sharing. 

The more academic, technocratic idea of what it means to ‘build capabilities’ has a place – but CBA15 sessions are designed to open the door to collaboration and to create spaces for interesting partnerships. 

Q: What is your vision beyond CBA15? 

SMA: We hope these sessions will be a starting point for people interested in similar applied skills and methodologies to collaborate after the conference. This can help to build our CBA community of practice around the ‘journey’ of taking the lessons learned at CBA15 forward. 

We are encouraging training participants to continue networking and sharing their experiences during the year ahead. Connecting with peers at CBA15 provides an opportunity to arrange exchange visits and even develop new partnerships. This can help to create a wider network of hands-on experts, truly increasing collaborative, practitioner-led capabilities.

Man using a computer

‘Training Day’ will see practitioners sharing the practical tools and skills they have been using, such as podcasting, to generate effective action (Photo: ICT4D.at via FlickrCC BY-SA 2.0)

Ideally, we would like to see participants document their progress and then – possibly at CBA16 in 2022 – share an ‘evidence model’ of what has worked for them. 

Q: How will this help strengthen the CBA community of practice?

JK: We would like CBA training days to explore and then document methods that best facilitate learning. In future, we hope to be able to provide support on methodologies for capacity building and shared learning.

The CBA network is already extensive, but we’d like to expand its reach and tap into the knowledge of community-based organisations doing good work on the ground and showcase community tools designed by local organisations.

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