Horizontal Learning is central to all ACC’s programmes and activities. ACC supports and facilitates communities and government authorities in seeking new and innovative approaches that addresses natural resources management issues amongst the pastoralists of Kenya and the rest of East Africa. They do these not only in terms of their scientific content but more importantly also from a multidisciplinary perspective that takes into account the different beliefs, values and concerns of the different stakeholders. Pastoralists have lived in fragile environments prone to droughts but they have developed effective coping mechanisms to mitigate the harsh realities of the ASAL areas. Unfortunately new bureaucratic administrative processes and development initiatives from colonial days to present independent governments have gradually impeded their ability to absorb livelihood shocks and environmental adversities. Culturally, pastoralists have a highly developed culture and social organization. However, they are despised by mainstream groups and even by government officials. Thus development and formal education provision for pastoral and nomadic groups have been minimal. Even where good intentions exist to offer education to the pastoralist, it has proved difficult. Because of the social structures and mobility making formal education accessible and meaningful to nomadic pastoralists has posed a major challenge to most developing countries. Also, the explicit values enshrined in educational reports and manifestos have in many instances failed to clear the pastoralists’ suspicions of schools and education. This means that millions of children from such groups have missed the benefits accrued from formal education in independent Africa. The failure to reach formal education for the nomadic pastoralists can be described as a human rights failure. Pastoralists are today recognized as poor and amongst the most vulnerable in society.
Horizontal learning gives an opportunity to such disadvantaged groups (including women and youth) to share experiences among themselves and with others the direction of development and social organization needed to bring about sustainable development. It does this by engaging all to reflect on their experiences in the light of new insights and act on these to deconstruct and reconstruct their lives and livelihoods. Horizontal learning views knowledge as being socially constructed and therefore the different perceptions and perspectives of the issues are valued and worth knowing. CEL therefore empowers communities whose knowledge and experiences becomes part of building blocks in the construction of their futures. Also, ACC’s monitoring and evaluation processes draws heavily from Horizontal learning.
To achieve Horizontal learning, ACC addresses the following aims: engaging pastoral communities to reflect on their actions so as to improve the quality of their lives and their rangeland environments; helping pastoral communities and other partners to re-examine their educational processes to facilitate community inquiries; providing learning networks to pastoral communities to enable them manage their rangeland resources sustainably; and supporting a participatory monitoring and evaluation process aimed at integrating lessons learned into program activities.
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