Philippines / Nepal: Knowledge sharing in Asia & the Pacific
In 2010, IFAD and FAO launched their "Knowledge sharing in Asia" programme to provide project staff, as well as those from partner institutions, with "the skills and tools required to ensure that knowledge, experiences and lessons learned are adequately captured and shared".
This programme comprises a series of trainings. ILEIA was invited to run two workshops on "Participatory techniques in the field", taking place in Los Baños, the Philippines and also in Kathmandu, Nepal, and which were organised with the support of SEARCA and ICIMOD. ILEIA was joined by Dr Alexander Flor, who facilitated the last session (on videos). In the Philippines we also had the great help of Pamela Custodio during the four days.
Participants came from different countries in the region: Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines in the first case, and India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal in the second. They included a wide variety of sectors, including IFAD-funded project staff, people working with government agencies, civil society representatives, and project beneficiaries.
What did the workshops aim for?
In short, the "Participatory techniques" workshops focused on the importance and usefulness of a documentation process, and were meant to help participants describe and analyse their work, identify specific lessons, and share these with others.
A main objective of both workshops was to show that a documentation process can be simple and does not necessarily have to be run by an external consultant. It became clear that it can easily be taken up by field staff of rural development projects, and that it can have many positive consequences.
Laying the groundwork
The facilitators presented the basic principles of documentation, including the importance of involving as many stakeholders as possible. Then, we identified some of the conditions needed, such as institutional support. Finally, we started a documentation process with all participants.
Experience has shown that the best way to learn about systematization is to simply try it. Participants were therefore asked to select a few cases (generally the projects they are involved in), describe their work and the project's results, and analyse all of this information in detail.
The steps of the documentation process
The documentation process consisted of the following steps:
- Selecting projects to be documented by relevance or importance;
- Organising the information available, collecting it from different sources (or at least recognizing where this information is);
- Describing the work done, identifying activities, the context in which these take place, the major results, the difficulties found, and the impact;
- Analysing the available information, identifying what is most relevant, and recognizing the causes behind the results observed; draw conclusions which will help generate new knowledge;
- And presenting these results.
Both in Los Baños and in Kathmandu, workshops included a session on the use of videos as part of a documentation process. Dr Alexander Flor, Professor of Information and Communication Studies at the University of the Philippines / Open University, presented a set of participatory video techniques that evolved in Los Baños in the early nineties known as ethnovideography. Read more.
Participants identified projects and went through the steps above. Crucial new knowledge and important insights were generated. Read more