The adaptive learning approach was developed, implemented and evaluated in small water body fisheries in Lao PDR in project R7335. The approach was able, fairly rapidly and at relatively low cost and risk, to reduce uncertainties and led to improved management and more predictable and desirable management outcomes.
While the approach was successful in this trial, it was important that it is tested in different ecological and institutional settings and promoted more widely. In order to enhance the uptake of the adaptive learning approach in other geographical locations and resource systems, the constraints and opportunities associated with the transferability of the approach have to be examined and ways of adapting it developed to improve its effectiveness, transferability and applicability.
This project addressed the need to create wider uptake of adaptive learning approaches, fisheries management tools and enhancement strategies that can improve livelihood outcomes of the poor. In the first place the project evaluated the transferability of the adaptive learning approach by implementing elements of the approach in India and Southeast Asia and refined the products developed in R7335 as a result.
Demand for the approach exists in South and Southeast Asia and the second part of the project aimed to address this. A communications strategy was developed to connect stakeholder groups and promote project outputs and products throughout and beyond the project lifespan. These stakeholders include: direct beneficiaries of outcomes of the approach, implementers (or potential implementers) of the approach and wider interest groups (policy makers, researchers). Project products were communicated using appropriate media and in appropriate fora to increase likelihood of uptake within the target region and beyond.
In order to test transferability of the approach it was implemented in a range of fisheries in South and Southeast Asia. In each case constraints to better management were identified through participatory processes. In India collaborative management experiments developed and implemented with users generated relevant information that could be utilised by users at little or no additional cost. This information provided increases of both yields and incomes in a number of the fisheries studied, as well as increasing the availability of cheap fish of particular benefit to the rural poor. Additional information generated is expected to improve service delivery by government agencies as well as contributing to local development initiatives.
The project also further developed the guidelines produced in R7335. This was informed by the experiences described above as well as from other practitioners and feedback on the style and content of the existing guidelines. The revised guidelines formed part of a communications strategy to increase awareness and uptake of adaptive learning. As evidence of success, the approach has already been incorporated into training materials at a number of universities, has informed research and development projects and attracted the attention of donors. To ensure the research messages and products remain accessible and available beyond the lifespan of the project, the project website (www.adaptivelearning.info) provides support for anyone wishing to implement the approach.