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March 2004

Announcement of a new publication

The Farmers' Life School Manual

“The Farmers' Life School Manual” is a joint publication of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), FAO and World Education, for use by facilitators of the Farmers’ Life School who have graduated from a Farmers’ Field School and a Farmers’ Life School, by adult educators or NGOs and community-based organizations with experience in participatory learning and people interested in introducing the Farmers’ Life School course into their own programmes. The Farmers’ Life School can be used in either community-based programmes or it can be adapted for formal educational settings.

The HIV/AIDS pandemic threatens to destroy the fabric of our society. Rural farming communities are particularly threatened and household security is at stake. Recognizing the warning signs in Asia, a joint initiative between the FAO-Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Programme and UNDP South East Asia HIV and Development Programme (UNDP-SEAHIV) resulted in the birth of the Farmers’ Life School. It began in 2000 with a bold objective: from the poorest of rural farming communities of South-East Asia comes innovation by the farmers, for the farmers. This manual documents the empowerment process, through which farmers decide for themselves how to build their resilience, including resistance to HIV/AIDS risks. Today, this is a movement that is continuing to spread in other rural communities of Cambodia.

This training manual is the outcome of the Farmers’ Life School project, which was originally field tested in Cambodia and has generated considerable international interest. This manual was translated from the original developed by the farmers in the Khmer language for training in Cambodia. Therefore, the setting, Cambodia, and the focus of the manual, subsistence rice farmers, are culturally specific. Although some adaptation has been carried out to facilitate use by other countries, the specificity of this manual has been largely maintained. As a tool that has already been field tested, this manual will be useful as a basis for developing other culture-specific tools. In order to be fully accepted and understood, this manual should be adapted with the participation of local farmers. The purpose of publishing this manual is to share the Cambodian farmers’ experience, which will stimulate thinking and the design of materials specific to each situation. It is not a ready-made recipe. For each community and country, the key to the success of a Farmers’ Life School is to recognize the expertise of farmers and make them aware of their own expertise as valuable capital on which to build their resilience.

FAO and UNDP-SEAHIV hope that by making this Cambodian manual available in the English language, the agricultural sector, AIDS programmes and NGOs will be encouraged to assist farming communities in their efforts to build their resilience and thus reduce their vulnerability to HIV/AIDS.

Click here to view the document. (pdf format - 3 MB)

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