Capacity development in One Health approaches has been a strategic focus of the HEAL project. Following the creation and delivery of expert training modules, the HEAL project has now initiated community training programs on One Health hazards. With the recent completion of a community training facilitation guide, the HEAL consortium, in collaboration with government partners, conducted a training program to enhance the engagement capacity of community facilitators with pastoralist communities on One Health hazards (i.e., AMR, zoonoses, and food safety). This training focused on community conversation methods to promote collaborative learning and community-driven solutions to reduce One Health hazards.

The three-day training was structured into theoretical sessions, fieldwork, and reflective discussions. These sessions covered an overview of the facilitator’s guide, adult learning methodologies, the community conversations approach and process, and reflections and experiential learning among the participants.

Moving from theory to practice, facilitators participated in rehearsal sessions where they simulated community conversations. These rehearsals were crucial for familiarizing facilitators with active learning methods. The most enriching part of the training involved conducting actual community conversations in a nearby pastoralist community with Multi-stakeholder Innovation Platform (MSIP) members. This hands-on experience allowed facilitators to witness and practice the organization and facilitation of community training events firsthand. By engaging directly with community members, facilitators could apply theoretical concepts in real-world settings, enhancing their understanding and facilitation skills.

The training concluded with reflective sessions where facilitators shared their experiences and insights gained from the practical exercises. This reflection was vital for linking theoretical discussions with practical applications. Facilitators discussed the challenges they faced, the strategies they found effective, and how they could improve future community conversations.

Participants expressed how the training enhanced their engagement capacity and awareness of community concerns about One Health issues. They appreciated the structured approach that combined theoretical knowledge with practical experience, emphasizing that this blend was instrumental in enriching their understanding of effective community engagement using community conversations. One participant noted, “The practical sessions were eye-opening. Facilitating real community conversations allowed us to see the impact of our work and understand the community’s perspective better. It was an enriching experience.” Another participant reflected, “We now feel more confident in facilitating community discussions that lead to community-driven solutions, and we have a deeper appreciation for the collaborative learning process.”

The training program demonstrated the importance of an integrated approach to health service delivery, highlighting that effective engagement with pastoralist communities requires facilitators who are not only knowledgeable but also skilled in collaborative and facilitation methods. By involving facilitators in theoretical, practical, and reflective sessions, the training ensured a holistic learning experience. By focusing on community conversation methods, the training has equipped facilitators with the tools and knowledge needed to foster collaborative learning and drive community-driven solutions to One Health hazards. This training has not only enhanced the facilitators’ skills but also strengthened the overall capacity of the HEAL consortium and government partners to engage with communities effectively.

Contributed by Mamusha Lemma, HEAL Gender and Capacity Development Specialist