The Dutch embassy in Ethiopia heard about the experience capitalization approach and immediately saw an opportunity. In collaboration with CTA they organized a five-day experience capitalization workshop in September 2017. With a slightly different set-up, this workshop was very effective in training a motivated group of participants, leading to a series of articles.
The Dutch embassy in Ethiopia is supporting many different projects in food security, water, agro-investment, gender and climate change. To encourage knowledge sharing from and among these projects, it developed the ‘Food Security Ethiopia’ website, where projects show their activities and results. To help project staff write about their experiences, the embassy organized a five-day workshop together with CTA. In September 2017, 17 Ethiopians from different backgrounds (government projects, NGOs, academics) gathered in Addis Ababa.
Because there was a clear demand for a specific output – short articles for the website – and less time available – one in stead of two workshops – the approach we followed was slightly different from the one CTA has been trying out in other regions. In one week, we covered the experience capitalization methodology, including the description and analysis of specific cases, as well as the preparation of a 500 to 600-word article for each case. As a break between the two sections, we visited a smallholder dairy project.
Because of the limited time, we were not able to go into much theory – like we do in the other regions. On the other hand, in part due to the dedication of the participants, we were able to achieve a lot in a short time. In addition to the near-completion of all the articles written by participants, one of the main achievements was a solid understanding of the importance of an analysis. Because the final written output could not be very long, we chose to focus the articles and the entire workshop on this essential part of the experience capitalization process.
As detailed by one of the participants, most of the participants commented that they had understood the importance of not just describing an experience – it is important to critically look at all activities and results, and to analyze what happened, what went well and what could have gone better. This is what makes an experience capitalization ‘product’ such as a short article on a website interesting. It shows something that has been learned from a concrete, real-life situation. Something new, unique and interesting makes a reader want to take the time to read and discover an experience, and hopefully use the lessons learned in his or her own context.