From a solution mapping and ethnography lens, the sponging of ideas related to hydroponic DWC farming from our positive deviant farmer was as important as getting the experiment design right at the first instance, hence the participatory action format.
I wanted every other actor involved in the entireness of the experiment to be fully engaged and to cross contaminate ideas at each stage of the design of the experiment. The more I involved everyone, the more collaborations emerged, and I noted an increase in sustainable behavioural and social change in the design.
The Application of Positive Deviance in the Design
In our case, the application of the PD concept generally followed the five steps of the PD methodology, as follows:
1. Scoping the problem in the food security space and determining desirable outcomes/interventions: the Accelerator Lab Pacific had engaged with various actors in the ecosystem to define these.
2. Discovering Positive Deviants: We actively searched for individuals and other social entities who were contributing towards food security in a positive way.
3. Carrying out positive deviance inquiry: We determined the underlying practices that led to positive outcomes for our positive deviant hydroponic farmer.
4. Designing interventions to enable others to access and practice new behaviours: We engaged with various actors in the ecosystem who were directly and indirectly affected by the intervention, and
5. Monitoring and evaluating the PD intervention: We did this by making maximum use of the Resilience Officers of UN-Habitat who were present in the field. They were responsible for monitoring and evaluation of the experiment at the informal settlements.
Positive deviants are atypical DWC hydroponic kit households who practice differently and more effectively than their peers.
During the closure of the experiment, I had accompanied the UN Habitat-Resilience Officers into the informal settlements to learn on the uptake and adoption of DWC hydroponic kits, in our case, from both the positive and negative deviant households. As we were in the process of closure, the country was hit by the second surge of the COVID-19 virus. Fortunately, we had already round up the Kulukulu informal settlement- the site having the highest positive impact for the uptake and adoption of the hydroponic kits.
Acknowledgement: Emily Moli, Zainab Kakal, and Rahul Ravneel Prasad of the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji.