A process of seven steps

Marc Lepage

The United Nations Development Programme launched the Africa Adaptation Programme in 2008, in partnership with UNIDO, UNICEF and the World Food Programme. Its purpose was to improve the resilience of vulnerable countries to promote early adaptation action and to lay the foundations for long-term investment plans to bolster resilience to climate change on the African continent.

The programme started a capitalisation process as part of one of its 5 expected outcomes (“Knowledge on adjusting national development processes to fully incorporate climate change risks and opportunities is being generated and shared across all levels”). This started with a workshop in Maputo, Mozambique, in May 2012, and was followed in 17 member countries of the AAP. The whole process, included the preparation of a series of articles (ready in June 2012), the elaboration of the handbook, the preparation of national capitalisation strategies and of national knowledge management strategies (second half of 2012), and also the organisation of regional knowledge sharing workshop (end of 2012).

The capitalisation process considered a set of 7 steps:

  • Planning: This step allows one to ask preliminary questions relating to the objectives and purposes, roles and responsibilities of actors, the type of and facilitation modalities, the implementation activities and monitoring process. This step also presents an opportunity to make the identification process of the experience(s) to be capitalised more accurate.
  • Experience identification: Allows for a concise presentation of the experience by setting the context and the problem statement in which the identification process is rooted and to which it strives to provide answers.
  • Experience description: This is the step during which the experience is scrutinized in detail, by establishing both the historical pattern, the methodological approach, the place and role of stakeholders, the organisational mechanisms and the technical process correlated to the experience. This represents a first level of analysis, with an assessment of both intended and unintended, positive and negative results and effects.
  • Experience analysis: As the name suggests, this refers to the stage during which the experience undergoes a thorough analysis on the basis of the capitalisation axes identified. It allows one to extract the lessons learned from the experience implementation.
  • Formatting results: Focuses on the consolidation of all the elements resulting from the process and its formatting for sharing purposes.
  • Results sharing. This is the stage during which the knowledge stemming from the process is put in the public domain in various media and channels, depending on communication objectives.
  • Monitoring and Evaluation: A cross-cutting and on-going activity, M&E must accompany both the capitalisation process itself and the process of results’ dissemination and sharing. The information generated allows players to initiate the required consolidation measures or corrections.

Taking the AAP Ghana project «Capacity building and financing options for the integration of climate change adaptation in Ghana, with a focus on early warning systems» as an example, the results of the whole capitalisation process included a series of booklets, such as the one describing the self-promotion dynamics encountered in the rural world by the Rural Development Support Project in Northern Lower Guinea (PADER BGN); or a few articles published in a magazine such as AGRIDAPE, a magazine on sustainable agriculture. But the different steps, and the general focus of the process, also led to ;

  • the establishment of knowledge sharing mechanisms (in situ fora, focus groups discussions, communities of practice, learning groups, a study trip);
  • the completion and use of “Teamworks”, a website for development practitioners and in partiuclar for UNDP partners (launched in 2010, more than 30,000 members), as a global network of knowledge sharing;
  • Posters; Radio broadcasts in addition to documentaries such as “Addressing climate change through resilience and local innovation”;
  • Online information on e.g. the sites of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or CIRAD; and
  • A set of proposed actions, defining who, when, how will they be implemented: An interactive map of traditional knowledge will be posted on the AAP project website; The atlas of traditional knowledge is distributed to communities through traditional leaders; 250 CDs on traditional knowledge are distributed to District Assemblies Project.

Main observations

In terms of the date collection tools and methodologies, the main advantages seen were that this was a participatory process, coordinated by members of farming organisations, and that there were audio-visual support (video) options available. At the same time, however, the team saw that when media supports are not translated into local languages, it became difficult for the majority of beneficiaries to use the report.

All those involved recognised the active participation of beneficiaries, and especially that women were at the centre of the capitalisation process. The participation of actors in the analytical process facilitated the availing of information; all beneficiaries were involved in the definition of the capitalisation axes and objectives, and they all showed that they had a good grasp of the information. But one of the major constraints or difficulties seen related to the short duration of the project (two years): it was not possible to highlight some of the impacts. In the same way, the fact that the capitalisation process was driven in one season did not allow for the observation of certain activities that occur mainly in winter (the observation is an information gathering technique).

In terms of the overall facilitation process, this was coordinated by local actors themselves, with the support of internal expertise. The conduct of the process was flexible and responsive to the beneficiaries’ schedule. The main problem was that researchers sometimes failed to be available, something that slowed down the whole capitalisation process.

Last, another key aspect was the diversity of support media products, allowing that the needs of different groups of actors be taken into account. Videos proved to be a good advocacy media, ensuring a wide dissemination. And the summary files could be detached from the cover, which allows one to select examples according to the needs. On the other hand, support media were not translated into local languages, and the videos were not available to the majority of rural people who do not have proper equipment.


This text was first published in the “Business case: Input for the development of a learning curriculum
on experience capitalization” prepared by the ETC Foundation and the FAO Knowledge Outreach Team, March 2014.

© 2018, 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.