Thursday, March 17, 2022

Assessing Livelihood Vulnerability to Extreme Shocks (ALiVE) – Foundation Training II

Both local and international food systems are facing multiple shocks, from pandemics to the increasing frequency of extreme weather events due to climate change. At the same time, inequality in food access persists, with millions of people undernourished and facing food insecurity. People are integral to the food system. Modelling the impacts of climate change on crops and developing new crop varieties is one piece of the puzzle.

The Walker Academy’s ‘Assessing Livelihood Vulnerability to Extreme Shocks – Foundation Training II’ (ALiVE II), funding for which was provided by the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) , built on the ALiVE 1 Foundational course and demonstrates how to use and apply livelihoods modelling software in more detail through developing a project. It focused on key aspects such as data input, identifying anomalies, and applying these skills the stakeholders’ own fields.
Linking information on climate and other hazards to information on people’s livelihoods, what they produce, consume, and sell, is a key part of understanding the food system’s vulnerability to shocks. This understanding requires a methodology that is flexible, sustainable, accessible, and one that generates and translates usable and relevant data. Such data can be used to evidence and support policy decisions, disaster response and interventions designed to improve resilience of at-risk communities around the globe. The HEA/IHM methodology offers all these elements; however, it is essential that those using the approach are fully trained and competent so that the data generated is accurate and reliable. It is also essential that expertise in this methodology is embedded within national systems so that the ongoing data collection, input, and analysis can be sustainably conducted, managed, and made accessible to relevant institutions. Based on this necessity, in partnership with Evidence for Development (EfD), the Walker Academy is running a series of ALiVE accredited courses to ensure that students, practitioners, and policy makers can understand, use, and apply all that the HEA/IHM approach has to offer.

The accredited course pathway for the Alive course

The accredited course pathway for HEAM/IHM practitioners


This ALiVE Foundation course II was completed by 15 students from Uganda and Kenya. They included PhD students, post-docs other academics and NGO staff, representing Gulu University (Uganda), Ecotrust (Uganda) and the University of Reading (UK). Many of the students attending work closely with national government structures. Six of the participants are involved in current projects with the Walker Institute. This means that the skill set developed in this training not only enhanced individual professional skills but will also contribute to on-going development work in Uganda, of value to national authorities.

The development and teaching team was led by Dr. Celia Petty, (EfD and the Walker Institute), with Luisa Ciampi, and Ross Fairgrieve, (Walker Institute). The team also had the support of Konstantina Pratta, the Walker Academy Facilitator.


The course was delivered entirely online, which meant that students were provided with online resources through the Walker Academy Platform, and had three days of online, interactive, real-time teaching. The course was designed so that students had one full day to refresh key concepts from the first ALiVE Foundation course and to look in detail at how to enter data onto the OHEA and OIHM software, one full day to enter data and to be introduced to a case study project, and one full day to reflect on how this approach might be useful for their own future work including sessions to develop skills in writing Policy Briefs. The course was carefully designed to ensure maximum engagement. This meant that virtual interactive exercises, group work and critical thinking exercises were built into all three days. Each day consisted of two 2-hour sessions with an hour lunch break, and each day required students to complete 1 hour of homework.


9 out of the 15 students completed evaluation forms and the feedback was extremely positive!
100% of respondents felt that the time they invested into the course was worthwhile.
100% of the students reported the teaching as very good with 80% reporting it to be excellent.
100% of students were satisfied with the course, 75% of which were extremely satisfied.

I would rate it highly. Very competent trainers and the combination course materials you could study on your own as well as the group meetings.”

“Very interactive and supportive, I rate it as excellent.”

“I will practice the quality aspect of OIHM and OHEA in all my research work putting the community first in the picture before starting to do any piece of work.”

We are all excited in the Walker Academy with the feedback from ‘ALiVE II Training’ and we are confident that it achieved its aims. We are working towards incorporating the student feedback into making further improvements to this course which will be ready for the next cohort of students.

Finally, we gratefully acknowledge the funding for the TREETOPS project which was provided by the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and we are now looking forward to facilitating field work training (ALiVE 3 and ALiVE 4) so that this cohort of students can progress towards full certification and lead future research at national and regional levels.

If you would like to register your interest in future Walker Academy courses, please email us on