The GIZ experience in India

Shalini Kala

To support improved governance for climate change adaptation, GIZ supports innovations to help rural populations cope better with adversity of changing climate. Several such innovations were pilot tested across India through local partners between 2011 and 2013. GIZ decided to extract lessons from these pilots through a systematization process and share them with government partners for use in formulation of central and state level climate change adaptation policy.

fotos uganda china 148The idea was to explore the use of systematization as a learning tool for the pilots to make mid-course corrections. Over two rounds of applying systematization in the life of each pilot were to help identify weaknesses in the strategy for mid-course correction and help extract substantive lessons. In November 2011, as the pilot concepts were being finalized, systematization was introduced to six partner organisations, five GIZ consultants expected to play the role of Systematization facilitators, and the GIZ climate change team. For all involved, this was their first exposure to Systematization.

Use of Systematization for this purpose meant introduction of the methodology to all partners and GIZ staff; and designing a mechanism to facilitate learning of, planning for and application of the methodology across all pilots. In short:

  • Build understanding of the methodology through introduction and guidance for all including pilot organisations, potential facilitators and GIZ staff;
  • Build capacity to manage planning and implementation of the methodology through training and mentoring for facilitators;
  • Build a learning network through regular experience sharing.


  • Introducing systematization early in project life: Pilot partners were still finalizing concept notes and implementation team members hadn’t fully internalized pilot intent, conceptually and operationally. In the struggle to identify and formulate the question for systematization exercise planned for an year later, this became critical.
  • Building confidence to apply systematization without prior experience: There was lot of apprehension among teams and initially even among facilitators.
  • Identifying the key question: Teams struggled with this, but this it is not unexpected. Most teams face this issue; it was heightened in this case as pilot partners started to grapple with this right at the start of pilots.
  • Staff turnover and ensuring availability of all team members during the on-site exercise: While staff turnover is not unusual, this became particularly detrimental for planning and implementation of systematization because this was a new methodology for most and the pilots are short-duration. In cases where implementing staff was not available fully during systematization, this problem worsened.
  • No common language between facilitator and systematization team: When this happened, the facilitator’s ability to support the team was restricted.


  • Introducing systematization early in project life: At a time when teams were finalizing their pilot proposal, introduction to systematization forced them to clarify the project intent and come to a common understanding about it. This was helpful in not only coming up with a sensible systematization question but for overall implementation.
  • Interest in the methodology: Given that none of those involved with the pilots knew much about systematization, the tremendous interest among implementing teams and at the organisational level has been crucial to the support needed in applying something new.
  • Selecting experienced development professionals to be facilitators: In a situation where hardly any systematization facilitators were available, GIZ chose to work with some of its regular consultants with good understanding of climate change adaptation issues, realities of working with communities, facilitation and community capacity building. This helped them connect with implementation teams, senior management in pilot organisations, and communities supporting the process of planning and applying systematization.
  • Facilitator trips to pilot locations: These were greatly beneficial for facilitators’ understanding of the ground reality, team capacity, and needs; preparing the implementation team for systematization; getting higher authorities to see how the organisation could benefit from the exercise; and for the facilitator to start her own journey to take the process of systematization in her hands.
  • Investments in improving partner understanding: GIZ supported an intensive process for partner organisations to fully grasp the concept and process of systematization. Apart from the introductory workshop, field–level orientation was organized at each partner location. Numerous exchanges over email and at face-to-face events with facilitators added to this effort.
  • Experience sharing: At the level of pilot organisations and amongst facilitators on issue that they were facing, sharing helped learn from each other and built confidence in resolving common problems. Pilot partners met each other along with facilitators and GIZ on various occasions sometimes specifically for systematization and sometimes otherwise.
  • Engaging an experienced systematization facilitator: Pushkin came on board in February 2012 and brought with him his intellectual and practical knowledge of systematization. This was useful for the pilot projects he supported as well as the group of facilitators.
  • As per the key players involved, systematization helped in learning, documentation, capacity building, team bonding, better connect with community and other stakeholders, and highlighting partner efforts at connecting with government initiatives.

 Unexpected outcomes

  • Clarifying project intent and strategy: This was probably not something that anybody had particularly thought about at the start of this journey in 2011. However, over time it became increasingly evident to the teams, facilitators and other involved that systematization, because it was introduced at the start of the pilots had helped this process.
  • Capacity building: Teams felt improvement in analytical, field research and management skills.
  • Bonding within the implementation team and with key stakeholders: As a result of planning and implementation of systematization, teams shared how connections amongst team members, and with community and government partners have improved.


  • The process was intense and challenging; and yet rewarding in terms of clarifying project intent and strategy and helping common understanding of the pilot, capacity building of pilot teams, strengthening bonding within the team and connections with key stakeholders including communities, generating evidence of progress (success, failure, and unintended outcomes), documentation of this evidence,
  • From the feedback of key stakeholders it also became evident that the substantial investment GIZ made in this process helped teams conceptually and operationally not just in applying systematization but also in managing the pilots.

Consultants trained in systematization form a pool of excellent facilitators available to GIZ pilot partners (and others interested) to steer future systematization exercises.

This note summarizes the report “Experience with Systematization in the context of CCA-RAI pilot projects on climate change adaptation in rural India Oct. 2011-April 2013”, GIZ, May 2013, by Shalini Kala. The local partners were FES and TAAL in Madhya Pradesh, MSSRF and DHAN in Tamil Nadu, DRCSC and WBUAFS-WWF in West Bengal, and AFPRO in Rajasthan.



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