Farm Radio International (FRI) contacted CTA in 2017, as it was preparing an experience capitalisation and sharing project with IUCN, and wanted to bring CTA’s experience to the proposal. IUCN was interested in describing and analysing the work of the SUSTAIN programme currently running in Tanzania, and in sharing the results widely through interactive radio programmes. We helped prepare the proposal, which was approved by IUCN at the end of the year. Together, we planned to run a workshop at the beginning of 2018, as one which would bring together many of the persons involved in the SUSTAIN programme (extension agents, local authorities, farmers, representatives of the local radio stations), and where they would try the experience capitalization approach.
This workshop took place in Kilombero, in the Morogoro region of Tanzania, between the 10th and the 13th of April, 2018. It was facilitated by two of the participants in the processes supported by CTA in the past in East Africa (Prudence Ayebare of UNFFE, Uganda, and Gilbert Tarimo, of the MIVARF project in Tanzania), and involved representatives of the Africa Wildlife Foundation and of other organizations working in the area. In relation to other similar workshops, CTA was especially interested in looking at the modifications needed to prepare a set of radio programmes as end products, instead of a set of articles.
The workshop started with a short introduction of all participants, and of the organizations involved, and we discussed the purpose and objectives, and the methodology to follow. First, we asked all participants to briefly describe their main field of work within the SUSTAIN programme, and to share what, among all the programme’s activities, would they be interested in sharing. Second, we asked them to highlight a few ideas which would define success: stronger networks, higher incomes, gender sensitivity, food/nutrition security (thus hoping to help the upcoming analysis). Third, we invited them all to share their expected results of this meeting: what do you expect to see by the end of the last session?
Building on these expectations (to share information, to learn from each other, etc.) we discussed the importance of drafting and following a knowledge management strategy. We looked at experience capitalization as an approach that leads to lessons and “new knowledge”, and which therefore helps projects improve what they do, be more efficient and effective, and also inspire others. Next, we presented a set of 6 steps as a general methodology for experience capitalization. We talked about the need to look at the steps which facilitate the adoption or use of the lessons learnt, and also at the need to ensure the institutionalization of the whole approach, even if we were not going to address them in detail here. We emphasised our interest in producing a set of radio programs, focusing on the activities and results seen in the field, with lessons drawn from a few experiences. We stressed the need to focus on an interesting case, or one for which there is a demand in terms of information. Other criteria for selecting the case or activity were that it should be one which is easy to understand over the radio, and is easily replicable (i.e. farmers could test it out with few inputs and little risk).
We formed three separate groups, following the main themes participants had identified themselves (water management, forestry conservation, and agronomic practices), and asked them all to identify the specific experiences they wanted to describe and analyse. The “regular” process was complemented by a field visit to two of the projects being documented. First we went to one where farmers are using beehives to stop elephants from ruining their crops. Next we went to the nursery fields where another organization is helping farmers use “clean” sugar cane seedlings (free from fungi and bacteria). We spoke with those in charge, and with some of the farmers involved.
Participants could compare what each group had written as part of the analysis with what they said in each short presentation, and also to compare it with what all participants had seen in the field. An interesting discussion followed, showing that the analysis they had done could be sharper, and also broader. All of them made a short presentation, which was recorded. We did not ask them to write a short text, as we tried before, thinking that many of them would find it too difficult, and that it would take too long. But we did discuss the main elements of an article, the main structure which all articles have, and we asked to share a few “killer facts” and a few quotes, as elements that can enrich any text.
The four-day discussions and interactions among participants led to a set of tables with information from seven different cases, all of them describing and analysing specific components of the SUSTAIN programme.
A different approach
In other workshops we have asked all participants to work on an individual case, but in this case we formed groups which in total described and analyzed seven different experiences. This has both pros and cons: there are more interesting interactions between participants, and better overall results. In some cases, however, discussions took very long, and it is necessary to manage time very efficiently. The total number of “products”, at the end, is also smaller.
Farm Radio International is taking all the tables and the audios made, and will continue with the preparation of the radio program series. The next step for FRI is to do some audience research with the potential radio audience, to find out which stations are listened to most often, and what the communities already know about the topics suggested. Once the radio station is selected, the producers and presenters will spend two or three days in a workshop with SUSTAIN and FRI to develop a program design for a series which covers the topics, includes farmers testimony, and allows for the audience to interact by calling, sending questions, or responding to weekly poll questions. FRI’s representative (and the facilitators) will be invited to write a case study, reflecting on the benefits and challenges seen with the experience capitalization approach.