Running in the mountainous state of Uttarakhand, in India, the Integrated Livelihood Support Programme (ILSP) is an IFAD-funded project which is being implemented in 11 districts (Almora, Bageshwar, Chamoli, Tehri, Uttarkashi, Rudraprayag, Dehradun, Pauri, Champawat, Pithoragarh and Nainital). Its main objective is to stop the deterioration of the productive infrastructure, make farm labour more productive and farming more remunerative, and hence provide incentives for people to invest their time and resources in agriculture.
ILSP recognises the importance of capturing knowledge, and of sharing the lessons learnt with the implementation of the programme. After two if its staff members attended the workshops in Goa and Pondicherry (ran by CTA with projects and organizations in India, Nepal and Bhutan), ILSP decided to organise a similar training workshop for its staff, for some of its NGO partners, and especially for two of the project implementation agencies: Uttarakhand Gramya Vikas Samiti (UGVS), and the Project Society – Watershed Management Directorate (PS-WMD). The workshop took place in Mussoorie, Uttarakhand, between the 13th and the 17th of December 2017. A total of 36 participants joined, and it was facilitated by Pankaj Shrivastav, a consultant based in Dehradun (India), and by Anil Maikhuri, UGVS’s Manager-Knowledge Management.
The training consisted of a three-day training-cum-writing process, focusing on the need to capture and sharefield-based knowledge. The facilitators focused on the experience capitalization approach, but also integrated other components relevant to UGVS and to PS-WMD’s work, such as the Mountain and Sustainable Livelihoods Frameworks, to create acustomised methodology. In addition to these three days, the fourth day was used to help build the capacities of 12 senior staff as facilitators, inviting them to support similar process in the future.The tone of the workshop and the tools used included a judicious mix of fun and learning, with the overall objective of finishing aseries of cases studies by the end of the third day. Participants were taken through a step-by-step methodology to describe and analyse each case, and to draw the key lessons.
A step-by-step process
Participants played an active role throughout the process. Every day, for example, three volunteers presented a quick recap, showing some of the main issues discussed the previous day. Additionally, feedback mechanisms in the form of coloured cards (green for “what I liked” and pink for “what could be better”) were collected and presented every day, together with a visual “mood chart” which participants filled regularly.It was also decided that every day would start with a relevant video to enhance participants’ understanding.
The general introductions highlighted the importance of capturing and sharing knowledge, and showed the need to ensure that both successes and failures are documented without any bias. This was followed by a general discussion which focused on the difference between knowledge and experience, and on the need to analyse the activities carried out by development projects. It was clear that participants had to look in detail at thework taking place in the field, and at the results and impact seen, so as to be able to share the main lessons learnt.
Next, the facilitators presented the main steps of an experience capitalization approach, and described the process followed by participants at similar meetings. Participants were asked to fill in a set of tables, helping them select a particular experience and describe it. After explaining the logic of creating these tables as skeletons of their case, participants were randomly split into groups of four, and were given 10 minutes each to share their stories with group members.
Much of the time in this workshop was devoted to helping participants write their story outlines, and identify the data gaps which they would need to fill up back home. They were asked to fill in a set of tables, and the programme was designed in such a way that each new table complemented the previous one, helping outline a complete case. These were then posted on the wall, and a few cases were taken up for discussion. The facilitators pointed out gaps and showed how could these cases be strengthened. Next, each participant was given two minutes to present their cases. All other participants were asked to score them ona scale of 1 to 10. Based on scores given, the best presenting participants were announced. This helped introduced the idea of a “good case”, and also show some of the factors that make it good.
A few observations
Both PIAs (UGVS and PS-WMD) support the local livelihood strategies in Uttarakhand, so the cases which participants described and analysed focused on these different strategies, and therefore provide lessons that can be used for the implementation of the two programmes. Participants were motivated by this opportunity to draw lessons that can be taken up and that can be used by their own projects, “at the spot”.
The workshop, and the cohort of facilitators it has created, has set in motion a process of regular documentation and sharing of knowledge within the two projects. It is being envisaged that such an exercise of collecting and sharing lessonscan now be done every six months, and that this will generate valuable and usable knowledge frequently. Resources and intensive monitoring and hand-holding for participants are now also centrally available, which will possibly make the process easier.
But it is also important to mention that we used Hindi in this workshop, both as the medium of instruction and for writing the case studies.We could not convert the training materials we had into Hindi, which would have been more effective. Nevertheless, the advantages were an instant communication with the facilitator and with each other, and a much greater comprehension. Almost all the participants were also able to outline their cases substantially within this workshop itself.The disadvantages were that typing in Hindi is cumbersome, so we had to use flipcharts for writing the case studies. We also decided that we would collect all case studies in Hindi and then would translate the entire document into English for an international audience.