Success stories have many failures

Today we had a series of learning sessions. We started off with Abdou Fall from WARF giving a presentation on FIDAfrique's capitalization methodology. Abdou described how through a participatory approach "capitalization" methodology builds on intellectual capital which in turn helps bring about change. He shared some examples of how capitalization has helped IFAD funded projects and programmes to systematically capture and share the learning emerging from their activities.

German Escobar from FIDAmerica gave a presentation on their knowledge harvesting methodology - known as sistematizacion. He mentioned that this methodology is 100% demand-driven and is based on a concrete needs.

In a nutshell, the knowledge is harvested in a participatory manner and is the result of critical reflection based numerous experiences. The knowledge and the lessons learnt are analyzed, synthesized, shared and disseminated. The ultimate goal of this knowledge harvesting methodology is to influence policy and bring about change

Sistematizacion has a lot in common with most significant change. Here is how German summarized:

  • Ask and respond to the following question: what is the problem or the opportunity that motivated the intervention & what were the contextual elements
  • What happened? When? What methods and means were used? Who was involved? What was the context?
  • How does the present situation compare to the initial situation. What is different?
  • Findings, conclusions and recommendations
  • Lessons learned
Ariel Halpern from PROCASUR held a mini-workshop sharing the Learning Route philosophy and methodology which is based on:

  • managing local knowledge which is available in rural areas and interacting with project staff, communities, farmers' and grassroots' organizations
  • improving and fostering the use of local knowledge to provide technical assistance to rural population
  • empowering rural population to systematically document their knowledge and share it between and among themselves
  • strengthening the networks and networking among rural populations and farmers
For one hour and a half, Ariel engaged, interacted and captivated the audience. He walked the audience through the fundamentals of a network and networking. One of his greatest soundbites was: "to be part of a network does not just mean you are part of a mailing list, but it means you are part of the solution."

He also reminded the audience that "success stories have many failures". And is not he right!!! The challenge for all of us is to systematically document and share the failures so that we can learn from them and thus avoid reinventing the wheel.

In a practical exercise, Ariel asked the audience to design their own learning routes. He asked them to give their hypothetical route a name and to identify:

  • a challenge where they required additional knowledge and experience
  • the target group that would benefit from solving and overcoming this challenge
  • the skills that needs to be developed to overcome this challenge
  • the different types of studies that needed to be conducted to help overcome this challenge

Ariel asked the audience to stand up and start working on this exercise within the row they were sitting. This created a buzz in the room and allowed the participants to interact with each other and share their respective challenges with each other.

At the end of his presentation everyone was so excited about the Learning Route philosophy and methodology. Our Gambian and Mauritanian colleagues saw an opportunity for a twining programme between the Learning Routes and their "Caravanes".

This learning and knowledge sharing session allowed the participants to better understant that we all share the same types of challenges and are not alone in this business. So instead of reinventing the wheel each time, we should reach out to each other and our other partners - albeit in different continents, as is the case of the Learning Routes - and share both our challenges and our learning. As Ariel said, networking is not just being part of a mailing list, but rather being part of the solution.

Read more about the methodology and some practical examples of how this methodology was applied at: