Note: This blog should be read together with the previous blog post from the Malawi case study.



The Malawi case study takes place in the Lake Chilwa Basin, a wetland of international significance prone to drying. Within the basin, Domasi and Nsanama Extension Planning Areas (EPAs) are our focus. The study subjects are women chosen because of their high vulnerability to drought, thus providing an opportunity for learning to adapt. The study focusses on how informal learning via local farming practices can potentially transgress current norms of climate change adaptation.


Creation of learning spaces

Learning spaces have been co-created with stakeholders through meetings as presented in table 1 below:


No. What was done/purpose Remarks No. of meetings conducted Total number of participants
1 Meeting with District Executive Committee (DEC) members to create project awareness and seek district support for sustainability purposes beyond T-learning in 2019 Participants had problems in understanding some key terms such as transgressive, transformative. We gave some examples to enhance understanding. 2 104
2 Pre-testing focus group questionnaire/check-list for focus group discussions with women at Chitsanzo Radio Listening Club, Phalombe District (One of the Lake Chilwa basin Districts). Pre-testing was done to check time taken and also examine nature of responses following research objectives. The questionnaire took more than two hours. The questionnaire had to be split into two days. There were some overlaps in responses among various questions and the questionnaire was revised accordingly. Research assistants had some problems in  translating some key terms initially. The questionnaire was ultimately translated into vernacular language of Chichewa 1 12
3 Project awareness meetings at community level and selection of women subjects to participate in focus group discussions. Selection of women was based on a number of factors including willingness to contribute towards the learning processes for local farming practices Although it was well explained that T-learning is pure research, there were still development oriented expectations from local communities under this project. 4 60
4 Focus group discussions to generate some mirror data for change laboratory workshops Questions focused on current and historical climate change adaptation, disaster risk and coping options along with associated learning pathways. 6 72
5 Change laboratory workshops to expand learning via informal pathways on local farming practices The labs are following the seven expansive learning phases of questioning, analysis, modelling the future, testing the model, implementing the model, reflecting on the whole process and finally consolidation. Local solutions have so far been proposed at Domasi EPA, one of the two study sites. The initial tendency by women was to  rush proposing solutions requiring external support but the researchers advised on including solutions that communities can address on their own. 6 30
6 Meetings with individuals To triangulate information from focus group discussions. The individuals included youth, men, extension workers, lead farmers 7 7


Detailed information about the above meetings is presented in the first blog.

Photo Essay

transgressive learning questionaire

Gibson, a PhD student under T-learning with members of Chitsanzo Radio Listening Club—(Pretesting questionnaire)

transgressive learning focus group

Miss Elida Matekeka (Research Assistant—far right) with focus group participants, Zomba

transgressive learning agriculture

Mr. Stephen Gonani, Extension Worker, Domasi EPA explaining two contradictory learning approaches of Conservation Agriculture (No Tillage) and Sasakawa (which encourages ridging)

transgressive learning banana tubers

Chisomo Lapawa (holding voice recorder) explaining use of banana tubers ground