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The Information Management Tool training

IM tool training

Last December I took part to the Food Security Cluster Information Management Tool Training, organized by the global Food Security Cluster (gFSC).

This was the second training hosted by the gFSC and it built on recommendations and lessons learned from the pilot training which took place in Rome in July 2014. The training focused on teaching participants about core IM concepts, what the FSC IM Tool is and how it can facilitate the FSC IM process.

Information Management is one of the core Food Security Cluster functions. Recognizing the need for the country-level Food Security Clusters to take a holistic approach to data collection and sharing, the gFSC has been developing a web-based IM tool for cluster systems and partners to use to collect, analyse and report on food security responses.

While the IM tool will make data collection, processing and response analysis globally comparable, it is flexible enough to be able to be tailored to different country contexts. By producing standard reports and maps the IM tool can help in visualizing gaps and overlaps of partner responses, and ultimately help in avoiding duplication of humanitarian assistance, especially considering issues of food availability, access and utilization. Consistent information sharing by partners will facilitate project tracking and monitoring, and ultimately result in evidence based decision making for strategic intervention and improved implementation. Furthermore, use of the IM tool will enhance the dissemination of timely and accurate information for advocacy efforts by clusters.

My interest was mainly in understanding what kind of data is collected during emergencies and how we can use that data in order to communicate effectively about acrisis. I see great potentialities in this data if well managed.

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Intervention at the Social Media Week in Rome

smw-romeA couple of weeks ago I was invited to the Social Media Week in Rome to discuss about ICT4D.

I tried to focus mostly on the importance of having communication embedded into development project rather than just after them. Thai is why ComDev is so important and should be taken into consideration by who design development projects.

Here are some tweets about the meeting:

Have a look at the entire story of what happened during the meeting.


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Fail Faire at IFAD

innovating&failing

The 29 October I went to the Fail Faire at IFAD.

Roxy organized and promoted the event to help all of us to openly discuss and share professional failures. The objective was, and is, to be able to manage failures and get the best out of them: learning by doing, in a certain way.

I met interesting people like Tim Harford, Aleem Walji, Dave Snowden and Ashley Good, who animated to the event, heard very fascinating stories about failures and errors, and brought with me the following key messages:

  • We need to realize that we do a very complex job. Working for the UN is not as easy and simple as you can think. The level of complexity due to the very different people, the languages, the topics and, most of all, the “politics”, is incredibly high. This should be much clearer to everyone and, in my opinion, would require much more attention, time and efforts than the ones currently dedicated;
  • If you don’t fail you did not try to innovate. It is only changing that you innovate. It is in the change that you take your risks. Think about it if you are proud of not failing in your job;
  • Communication is fundamental for what we do. We should talk and talk and talk. And then talk again in order to be clear and aligned and always ready to move ahead together. Think about your recent past, make the “failures emerge” and then talk about them with someone you trust in order analyse them and focus on the the reasons and try to avoid them in the future. If you talk about the reasons of you failure with someone they will be evident and it is more difficult for you to repeat them in the future.

Last but not least: trust is always a key element in this learning process.

 

The event was very useful mostly because it is fundamental to think and zoom out from what we are currently doing, and develop new and better ideas for the future.


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It is out!

It took long but now it is out! The new FAO in emergencies website has been published and is available at www.fao.org/emergencies/

FAO in emergencies

I think this is a very good step ahead: complete reorganization, much more content, much more usability, social features and a new approach in the content creation with the site ready to host every new content produced in the “field”.

Have a look at all the main changes we made.

More is in preparation and you will see before summer.


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Barza meeting in Arusha

barza group photo

At the end of September, I was invited by Farm Radio International (FRI) to Arusha, Tanzania, to join the first “barza” workshop. Barza, a swahili word which means “the place where people in a village meet under a tree to talk and sort out questions concerning the community”, is an online comunity dedicated to community radio broadcasters in Africa.

The meeting was organized by FRI to gather both the users, the community radio broadcasters, and the advisory group of the community one year after the birth of this experiment.

The calendar of the three days was pretty intense:

  • Day 1 was dedicated to introduce people (most of us knew each other but never met before) and describe FRI’s activity in the past, their intention to set up the community and how people got involved in the experiment. I had a chance to introduce my idea, developed in 2003, when I dedicated the thesis of my Master in International Cooperation to the creation of an online Community for community Radio broadcasters. In the afternoon, people identified problems and difficulties in the current community both in terms of technical issues and offline collaboration and promotion.
  • Day 2 was mainly devoted to identify future options for the community to expand in terms of members and of content. The exercise was very interesting: dozens of ideas came on the table and, as usual, Internet seemed to be the Holy Graal, the “thing” that can give you an answer to all your needs, the keyword to solve all the problems, the gateway for accessing everything, everytime, everywhere… It can be true but you have to create the conditions for this to happen, otherwise a failure is just behind the corner.
  • Day 3 was dedicated to the advisory group to put order in the inputs received during the general meeting and start planning for the future. We had a franck and long conversation about our perceptions, what each one of us wants and can offer, what the problems for the future can be.

The main problem to solve now is to decide whether Barza is mainly oriented towards people OR content: barza was born as an online community which means to be devoted to create relationships among people. In addition, we live the social media era of the internet where online relationships are the KEY. BUT content is a crucial element in the life of a radio broadcaster and access to good and new content is considered the key by most of the members of barza. So the dilemma between content and people is still open.

Personally I don’t see a contrast between the two things. In my opinion, barza should be characterized as an online community of community radio broadcasters (a very clear group of people with a clear strong interest in common) and use the interaction among people to share and spread among members innovative content about different topics (mainly scripts about agriculture and nutrition but also health, education, human rights, gender issues, etc.).

Thanks FRI, Kevin, Nelly, Blythe and Bart, for the great occasion they offered me to learn more about these guys and their needs and perception of what an online community can do for them.


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Next objective is…

Long long time, no see!

It has been long time ago I wrote my last post and now I hope to be back, able to write more about what I’m actually doing as manager of the online communication of FAO in emergencies.

The next big objective is the launch of the new website which is scheduled early next October. The Team has been working hardly on it both on the technical and the content side. Changes do not involve only technical aspects but mainly the way the Division is communicating about its activities, getting people from the field more and more involved in it.

We are working on three main directions:

  • present a RESTYLED website,
  • increase the VISIBILITY, and
  • propose more CONTENT from the field

Interaction and dynamism will be key to get the users involved and interested in the content. Images will help posts in giving a clear description of what FAO is doing in the management of emergency situations all over the world. Contributions from the officers in the field will highlight the engagement of the organization in emergency and devolopment activities.