This guide looks at documentation as a process which seeks to describe and analyse an initiative, organise the available information, draw lessons and conclusions and share these results. Read more
As part of our efforts to promote the documentation of field-based experiences, this booklet describes 18 different methods, including approaches such as participatory video or story guides. Read more
Other books, guides and manuals
Many organisations are currently promoting the documentation of field-based cases and experiences. These efforts, taking place all over the world, are based on different methods or approaches, showing that there is not one way of documenting, but many.
This section gives an overview of some of the documentation methods available. Our objective is not to show which one is best, nor to qualify them in any way. Rather, it is meant to help you select the one which is best suited to your context and situation, or combine elements from different approaches.
- Story guide: Building bridges using narrative techniques
[Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, 2006]
- Self-assessing good practices and scaling-up strategies in sustainable agriculture - Guidelines for Facilitators
[Humboldt Universität zu Berlin - Centre for Advanced Training in Rural Development, 2004]
[International Institute for Rural Reconstruction, 1996]
- [ENRAP, 2006]
[FIDAMERICA / PREVAL, 2007]
[Groupe Initiative, 2004]
- Insights into participatory video: A handbook for the field
[Fundación AGRECOL Andes, 2006]
Other documentation initiatives
This list provides links to initiatives, networks and organisations that carry out documentation work in their own unique way. They may serve as an inspiration.
- SUSTAINET - Sustainable Agriculture Information Network
The prime objectives of SUSTAINET - "Sustainable Agriculture Information Network" - are to reduce poverty and support sustainable forms of agriculture.
SUSTAINET has identified sustainable examples of good agricultural practices (GAPs) which are capable of bringing about a lasting reduction in rural poverty, and which have the potential for wide dissemination on a transregional and transcontinental basis.
- South Asia Pro-Poor Livestock Policy Programme
The SA PPLP programme aims to ensure that the interests of poor livestock keepers are reflected in national as well as international policies and programs affecting their livelihoods.
Its site presents their guidelines for developing "good practice notes", together with several examples of these notes.
- ENRAP – Knowledge Networking for Rural Development in Asia/ Pacific Region
ENRAP is a collaborative programme between IFAD, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and the Canadian IDRC, the International Development Research Centre.
It was designed to bring the benefits of accessing and sharing global information resources to IFADsupported rural development projects in the Asia/Pacific region.
- KariaNet – Knowledge Access in Rural Interconnected Areas Network
KariaNet is multi-stakeholder partnership between IFAD, the International Development and Research Centre (IDRC) and ten development projects in the Middle East and North Africa. It fosters a process of knowledge sharing and the exchange of experiences by setting up an ICT mediated network of projects in the region.
ActionAid is an international agency whose aim is to fight poverty worldwide.
It works in many different countries around the globe with local partners, in a way that “makes the most of their knowledge and experience”. The Knowledge Initiative is a space within ActionAid. It sits alongside ActionAid’s organisational functions and themes, like an internal think-tank that strategically identifies gaps in knowledge, thinking and practice, and aims to fill these gaps with new knowledge.
- FARM Africa
FARM Africa is an international non-governmental organisation that aims to reduce poverty in eastern and southern Africa.
It works in partnership with marginal farmers and herders, helping them to manage their natural resources more effectively and thus build sustainable livelihoods on their land. It also establishes partnerships with governments, local organisations, international NGOs and the private sector to develop strong rural livelihoods.
- PROLINNOVA – Promoting Local Innovation
One of PROLINNOVA’s thematic projects looks at farmer-led documentation, defined as "an empowering process in which local communities take the lead role in the documentation process".
The results of such a process are meant to facilitate the learning processes of farmers and community members in general, as well as to help the exchange of information between communities (horizontal sharing) and between communities, development agents and policy makers (vertical sharing).
- CEAAL/Programa Latinoamericano de Apoyo a la Sistematización
One of CEAAL’s working groups is the Programa Latinoamericano de Apoyo a la Sistematización de Experiencias – a programme designed to support the systematisation of field based experiences throughout the region.
On its website, this programme regularly organises “electronic workshops”, and provides access to a mailing list, through which a large number of practitioners exchange ideas and experiences.
- Both Ends: The Encyclopedia of Sustainability
The Encyclopedia of Sustainability is a long term project started by Both ENDS, a Dutch organisation that supports inspiring environmental initiatives all over the world.
Realising that many sustainable practices of natural resource management do exist and that they only need to be revealed, this project aims to be an ever expanding - online - collection of innovative, people-oriented environment initiatives.
- Progreso Network
The Progreso Network started working in 2007, facilitating the documentation processes of several producer organisations.
Since then, it aims to be a platform for exchange between organisations, and is presented as “a professional network that connects experience and knowledge on organisations development of producer organisations in Africa, Asia and Latin America”. The network considers that the systematisation of useful learning experiences in organisational development is a process that allows producer organisations and their partners to learn from others.
- Water, land and people: Voices and insights from three continents
Water, Land and People is a learning initiative implemented in Bolivia, Mali and India. It is an initiative promoted by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), aimed at sharing and deepening the knowledge base within SDC and its partners.
More specifically, its objective is to improve the development strategies and policies with regard to Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM), with particular emphasis on the relationship between water and food.
- IICD - International Institute for Communications and Development
The International Institute for Communication and Development is a non-profit foundation that specialises in information and communication technologies (ICTs) as a tool for development.
It works with partners from the public, private and non-profit sector to assist developing countries to “realise locally owned sustainable development by harnessing the potential of ICTs”. IICD focuses on different development sectors, such as governance, health, livelihood opportunities (especially in agriculture) and the environment.
- Rural Radio Resource Pack Programme, CTA
CTA recognises that, even though new information and communication technologies are now becoming more and more popular, radio remains one of the most important communication tools in most rural communities.
It is therefore supporting rural radios through its Rural Radio Resource Pack Programme, which started in 1991. A set of 5 “packs” is produced every year, and there are currently more than 50 packs in stock. These packs are designed to encourage the use of rural radio to disseminate scientific and technical information, with the initiative of strengthening the links between extension workers and farmers, promoting knowledge-sharing between farmers, and addressing the problem of illiteracy.
- Dare to Share
This is a project of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), set up in collaboration with AGRIDEA (the Swiss Center for Agricultural Extension and Rural Development).
The site looks at knowledge management and knowledge sharing, considering different methods, major events and including links to related websites.
- Agroecologia em Rede
Agroecologia em Rede is a Brazilian database which presents agroecological field experiences, research information, persons and organisations (in Portuguese).
This site was designed and constructed with the objective of facilitating interaction and stimulating learning among agroecology practitioners, academicians and decision makers.
- The Communication Initiative
The Communication Initiative is an online space for sharing the experiences of, and building bridges between, the people and organisations engaged in supporting communication as a fundamental strategy for economic and social change.
It does this through a thorough process of dialogue and debate, and by giving the network a stronger, more representative and informed voice with which to advance the use and improve the impact of communication for development.
- Farming solutions
This is a site put together by Greenpeace, Oxfam, ILEIA and the Pesticide Action Network, with the aim of presenting real solutions to hunger and poverty.
Farming Solutions brings examples of successful, environmentally responsible farming systems from all over the world, illustrating how farmers can protect the environment while at the same time increasing food supply where it is most needed.