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Learning through feedback in the field: Reflective learning in a NGO in the Peruvian Amazon

Kristina Marquardt Arévalo, Magnus Ljung, Nadarajah Sriskandarajah

2010 Peru, South America

The article discusses an action research project conducted in the Upper Amazon region of Peru that focused on the working approach of a NGO partner called PRADERA. In its land management projects PRADERA’s working approach was characterized by a close collaboration with farmers. Its emphasis was on grasping the farmers’ perspective on agriculture, targeting of local institutions in the villages as natural arenas for learning, and including topics in their analysis such as culture and worldview; this is analyzed through the framework of a reflective learning organization. The organization’s capacity for learning is described as consisting of single-, double- and the possibility of triple-loop learning. During our collaboration with PRADERA, though we did not find established internal arrangements that could foster a triple-loop learning process, incipient signs were noted of space and potential which could favor deeper levels of learning. The importance of deeper levels of learning in the work of small highly action oriented NGOs such as PRADERA that act as a bridge between local farmers and the outside world, and how action research methodology can be a tool for developing reflectivity within such an organization, are discussed.

action research, Amazon, learning loops, NGO, organizational learning, Peru