Solutions Mapping for Learning and Adaptation

August 25, 2023

Compared to project delivery, the learning process is often less emphasized as the focus of the development sector. UNDP Accelerator Lab Indonesia has enabled learning through solutions mapping platforms and tools to unearth grassroots knowledge from local communities. 


However, these platforms and tools play a role not only in documenting innovation; they also serve as catalysts for learning and adaption through facilitating three things:

  1.   Open data source of collective intelligence: 

The solutions mapping platform (website) that we co-developed with our learning partner serves as an open database to facilitate knowledge sharing between communities.

2. People’s adaptive capacity in measuring and managing impact: 

Solutions mapping tools (canvas and cards) help organizations refine their strategies for achieving impact through gathering new insights from targeted communities.

3. Translation of grassroots insights into policy: 

The platform and tools could also assist government partners to incorporate community-based insights into program and policy design.


Platform as a Source of Collective Intelligence

Collective intelligence is the enhanced capacity created when people work together to mobilize a wider range of information, ideas, and insights. Inspired by the Accelerator Lab India’s GRID platform, our Lab with Design Ethnography Lab (DE:Lab) - Bandung Institute of Technology built an interactive Solutions Mapping platform to document grassroots innovations. The platform, designed to be open to the public, allows easy access for communities to contribute by uploading their solutions.

Solutions Mapping Website platform

Solutions Mapping Website platform which contains grassroots innovations documented across various contexts

Solutions can take many forms: micro, physical, social, and nature-based. For instance, communities in Cirebon, West Java created embankments from bamboo and waste coconut shells as a form of nature-based solution. Although not very durable, these environment-friendly embankments serve as barriers to seawater tides and erosion. 


While it functions as a database, the platform also helps facilitate interaction among grassroots innovators and create an inclusive innovation ecosystem. It ultimately allows communities, development organizations, academics, and even governments to scale impact by replicating and testing solutions in new contexts. It enables synthesising of experts with grassroots knowledge in response to systemic issues.


Adaptive Tools for Defining and Measuring Impact

Meanwhile, our solutions mapping tools[1] consist of an introduction to immersion[2] and grassroots innovations, in addition to principles and guidelines for using the solutions mapping canvas. With Wanara Studio, we also designed solutions mapping cards using everyday glossaries and illustrations, facilitating the immersion process to identify gaps, needs, opportunities, assets, and emerging issues of impacted communities.

Kanvas Kebutuhan Solusi

Everyday Solutions Mapping canvas

These tools have been tested through workshops with various stakeholders, including a low-income community in Larantuka, East Nusa Tenggara, and Teman Tuli – a deaf community – in Bandung, West Java, who shared feedback on how to contextualize the tools using local phrases and expressions. The tools were also used by UNDP external learning partners to understand better the needs of the communities they intend to serve. In the 2021 Urban Innovation Challenge (UIC), 118 innovators engaged in a bootcamp, where they used the solutions mapping canvas to sharpen their solution offers. Similarly, the canvas was tailored to enable 12 social enterprises and MSMEs to refine their impact definitions and strategies concerning the blue economy.

Participants of workshop in Larantuka, East Nusa Tenggara tried out the canvas and cards


In and of itself, a tool is only as good as the user. The examples above demonstrate how good uses of these tools could help organizations to integrate learning and adaptation into their project delivery, in which possible solutions are fine-tuned to deliver the intended impact on the target populations.


Translating Insights into Policy

As the culmination of our journey, we conducted a Solutions Mapping Festival[3] in Bandung to disseminate our learnings during the past two years and share the potential power of grassroots solutions in creating impact – both at the community and policy levels.

Trolley to display snacks used by local sellers  Bandung, West Java    --   Raft made of bamboo & jerrycans, designed by communities in Makassar for evacuation during a flood


The panelists had a dialogue on how to integrate community-based insights into program and policy design. A National Planning Agency (BAPPENAS) representative shared insights on the cost-effectiveness of communities’ nature-based solutions in response to floods. Similarly, a representative from the Institute of Research and Community Service, Bandung Institute of Technology (LPPM ITB) described how university lecturers worked with rural communities to develop pico-hydro power plants, which supply electricity for many households[4]. Finally, officials from GovTech Edu, shared their experience in incorporating design thinking to develop a nationwide digital teaching platform for teachers and educators. The panelists recognized how the solutions mapping platform and tools could help them and other government agencies consult with local communities in policymaking.

Panel discussions during the Solutions Mapping Festival

As such, the festival showcased grassroots innovations and a new opportunity for development practitioners to move beyond a one-size-fits-all approach toward an integrated approach, where communities’ voices are considered as an integral part of programs and policies.


Reflection and Moving Forward

Ultimately, the solution mapping platform, tools, and activities promoted by UNDP Accelerator Labs should be seen as more than just a way for documenting local innovations. Instead, they represent an open invitation for unlearning, for development organizations and partners to value and cultivate their adaptive capacity beyond projects and output delivery.

[1] Inspired by SalikLayBay developed by UNDP Accelerator Lab Philippines and adapted from DE: Lab Ethnographic tools 

[2] Ethnography conducted with a shorter duration to address specific questions

[3] The festival comprised of a grassroots innovations exhibition, keynote speech from Yulia Sugandi, Ph.D. on the notion of art and design for system transformations, and panel discussion with academia and government representatives

[4] Initiative led by Dr. Ing. Deny Hamdani, S.T., M.Sc. & team at LPPM ITB

Written by Daniel Dyonisius  –    Head of Solutions Mapping 

                  Ajeng Larasati      –    Innovation Officer

Edited by Enggi Dewanti