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Gathering and organizing information

An important part of an experience capitalisation process is to tell the story of what actually happened in the field. In order to do this, it is first necessary to collect enough information from a wide diversity of sources. Most of the information will come from the participants in the experience and therefore in the capitalisation process, but you will also need to look for other sources of information. These typically include community members, field staff, partner organisations, but also reports or work plans. The best way to collect information is to use different tools, such as participant observation, interviews, group discussions, and surveys. But the team in charge may also need to look for secondary information.

8169057568_352310c38a_oNext, storing and ordering this information in a systematic way is essential to the process. It helps identify missing information, and prioritise, filter and organise what you know according to its relevance. Three possible methods to do this are reconstructing a timeline, categorising activities and outcomes, and using fact sheets. In different ways, the three methods cover the situation before the intervention, during the intervention process, and the resulting situation. Using a timeline, participants can create an overview of the initial situation of the experience and/or project/programme, the activities implemented, and the resulting current situation, using turning points to identify what brought about change. Dividing the available information into “categories” can help those involved highlight the positive, negative and unexpected events, effects and outcomes. The third method, using a fact sheet, will give an easy to read and structured overview and make comparison with other activities, documented in the same, easy, way.

And last but not least, a team should not forget the importance of information management and proper storage of information. This is a step in the process that can help save a lot of time, if at some point it is necessary to go back to the raw data or information.

© 2016, CTA. Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation

CTA is a joint institution operating under the framework of the Cotonou Agreement between the ACP Group of States (Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific) and the EU Member States (European Union). CTA is funded by the European Union.