Resiliency and Development Part II

Transformative Capacity 

Transformative capacity means having the ability to affect systemic changeor create a positive enabling environment for people to work together to invest and innovate while actively managing risks. If village flooding is made worse because of upstream conditions outside of the villagers’ control, transformative capacity can be realized if they are able to get the government and other stakeholders to act to reverse those conditions. With transformative capacity, you can prevent the shock from happening or eliminate people’s exposure to it. Shanta Foundation supports transformative capacity among partner villagers by helping them strengthen long-term strategic thinking skills. Moreover, Shanta helps them developtheir ability to lobby external stakeholders (ex. regional government officials)  for large-scale, systemic change around issues exposing community members to harm.  

How does Shanta Foundation know if resilience is being strengthened among villagers? Let’s take an example from our work in Myanmar…  

 Without participation in an income generation project, a farmer who loses her corn crop might be forced to sell a productive asset (tractor, grain mill, etc.) or feed her family smaller or fewer meals to survive. With enhanced skills to farm more effectively, or an alternative source of income not impacted by the same forces as her crops, she can weather this storm without resorting to those negative coping strategies. She may also be able to use the small business skills learned through the pig farming project, like rigorous tracking of inputs and expenses, or knowing where to turn for technical advice, to protect her primary agricultural income (corn farming). Over time she may see that adapting her own farming techniques or business approach isn’t enough to protect her against crop loss in the face of larger forces such as climate change. In this case, she may lobby her Village Development Team to prioritize long-term solutions to prevent or mitigate shocks causedby nature (flooding, drought, etc.) or people (pollution, water diversion for industry, etc.).