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FAO in emergencies mobile App

After long, but good work, we released the NEW FAO in emergencies mobile App for iPhone and iPad.

It is publicly available on iTunes and it is free.

Immagine

With the App is possible to access most of the content of the FAO in emergencies website, with a specific focus on the emergency projects that FAO is implementing.


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Share Fair 2011 – day 2

Today inspiration came from the great intro by Rob Burnet who talked about the incredible experience of shujaaz in Kenya. This series, which is using comics, radio, internet mobile telephony and video, introduces agriculture to the Kenyan youth. Rob strongly suggested: “Go to the point. What does your audience is looking for?” and “It is not the what. It is how. Push does not work at the end.”

Rob Burnet introducing Dj B

In the afternoon I joined @etiennewnger‘s and @NancyWhite‘s Community clinic to look for suggestions on how to solve problems of the CoPs that I supervise. In particular, I wanted to reflect on the FSCA community that it is still not very active after the workshop in Dakar. We came out with the answer I already knew: when the need is not clearly expressed by the members, then it is more difficult to have the group working as a Community. And this reminds me what I heard this morning during Rob’s address.

The class listening to suggestions during the Community clinic

I closed the day meeting Ms Tukhikyan from Armenia who shared their experience in the attempt to mitigate plastic pollution. Recycling plastic bottles + substituting common plastic bags with other bags to diminish their use.

An alternative to plastic bagsWhat to add? An intense and inspiring day. The days you need when you are missing ideas and want to find new inputs for your daily work to refresh it and reinvigorate.


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The Spirit of the Share Fair 2011

Today the Second AgriKnowledge Share Fair starts.

Before anything else, we, the Steering Committee, think the Spirit of the participation to this event to be crucial.

Interview with Willem Bettink - one of the organizers of the #sfrome

I like very much Willem’s description of the spirit of the Share Fair 2011.

The first and main aspiration is to “have a lot of fun”: we need to chill out, talk to other people, get out of our daily routine and breath fresh air to bring innovation and new idea in what we are doing

This is the spirit we want and need to transmit to all the participants and to our institutions, in general. If people will come out of the the week with this spirit permeating their job, then our work can be considered successful.

Let us know this spirit is able to conquer your soul and your job.


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Share Fair 2011

September 2011 is a very long and intense month.

After the two events at FAO (the CSDI Stocktaking exercise and the ComDev Expert consultation), it is now time for an important event taking place at IFAD: the Share Fair 2011.

Share Fair 2011

I will have plenty of occasions to meet with people:

  • the Training on Photosharing (11:00 – 12:30, room C400),
  • the session called “Radio Lake Victoria assist Kenyan farmers with nitty-gritty of food security” (12:00-13:00, room B200),
  • the session named “FARM 98.0 FM: Your vocal gateway to agricultural information” (16:00-17:00, room C300),
  • the session on “5 years sharing coffee and knowledge: the Bluebar experience” (14.00 – 15.30 Tent: Chill-out Corner),
  • the Chill-out with Mark Davies (15:30-16:30 Tent – Chill-out Corner), and
  • the Social Reporting Team

The final Agenda of the Fair is available here.

This is not going to be alone, as at the ned of the week the km4dev annual meeting will also take place, in the same venue with even more people and things to learn.


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Social Reporting during the FAO Conference

After the very positive event in Dakar for the FSCA-PISA Workshop on ComDev, it is now time for a new experiment of Social Reporting.

This time it’s happening during the 37th FAO Conference which is taking place this week at FAO in Rome.

It is the first official experiment of this kind for FAO and I think it is going to be a very interesting experience for the organization. It is important to offer the house a perception of what social reporting could be during such an event.

We chose a very light approach with few people in the Team (mainly @faonews, @permreps_unrome and myself @neoluk) and a list of selected events during the week to follow and tweet about.


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Informal chat with Etienne Wenger on Communities of Practice

Early this week I met Etienne Wenger. The occasion was an informal chat at IFAD with several people also from FAO.

Etienne talked about Communities of Practice. Here are a some notes that I took during the conversation we had.

Genesis of Community of Practice:

There is a tension between being self organized and sustain a CoP to better organize it. There is no substitute for the internal energy of a CoP. There is no substitute for the “relation” itself. A Community starts with a sort of dating. I never thought that someone can START a CoP.

Ways to stimulate CoP:

Create the activities that allow people to understand the kind of relationship they can have among them.  Allow people to talk and engage about their practices. Asking for lessons learned is not a great technique!!! It is too vague. Rather, take advantage of every chance to learn from someone else.

Steps to go through:

Every CoP has its own rhythm. A good community is good for the members, not necessarily for you. Domain discipline: what is this CoP about? Community discipline: given this domain, who are the partners? Practice discipline: on the knowledge of some practice, define the size/shape of the domain. Find your rhythm!!!

CoP and Networks:

Nothing can tell us how long a CoP will last. Often CoPs dissolve into Networks. CoP is just a name. You can call them as you like. Technically speaking there is an identity which is based on the “domain”: this produces a learning implication. In a Network, the accountability is only on the “links”.

Role of Facilitation:

The facilitation can help the Core group of a CoP. Facilitation is not a substitute for leadership. CoP without leadership is usually a failure: look for the core group. A bit of support is very useful because lives are very intense and people can be busy. I changed my mind on this point! Anyhow, you have to create value for them: what do they need?

Participants’ imagination is limited: you have to propose them some ideas. Pulling someone is better than to push him/her. Try to set up activities that create a pull for people’s knowledge. Example: a concrete case for which you need a solution. We are talking about very common sense! Make a clear distinction between energizing and de-energizing tasks for community.

Tips:

Spend your time on strategic conversation about knowledge.

Connect knowledge sharing to one strategic objective of your project.

Most of the times people working for projects are considered focus groups rather than communities.

I have to admit that I agree almost at 100% with what Etienne said!

P.S.: Thanks Roxy and Willem for creating always good occasions to share and discuss.


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FSCA-PISA Workshop on ComDev: Lessons learned 3

GROUPING BY COUNTRY: The meeting room was organized around seven tables, one per Country. The vast majority of the activities were carried out on a “National Group” basis. We had to face logistic problems as the table in the room were very hard to move and the configuration with seven “islands” could hardly be transformed during the day. Anyhow, our approach resulted to be positive and stimulated the Teamwork.

Suggestion: dedicate much attention to the facility and the logistic issues. It is a crucial point as most of the meeting rooms are equipped with very traditional furniture that does not stimulate interaction. Big round tables work as obstacles rather than platforms for communication while small mobile tables work much better.

The Mali Team

As a compensation for the logistic difficulties, we used every activity to offer the National Teams the opportunity to interact with the others, promoting discussions and sharing at different levels.
In particular, the long session dedicated to the exposition of the Case Study offered an effective occasion to interact personally and as a group with the other Teams, creating very interesting dynamics.
The use of mobile microphones helped in maintaining the sessions vivid and generate dynamism during the discussions.

SOCIAL REPORTING TEAM: The creation a Social Reporting Team wanted to be an additional prodding for the group. It responded to two main objectives:

  •   To show the potential of social media to advocate for the event during and after the event, and
  •   To integrate off-site participants into the discussions and sessions of the Workshop.

The idea of creating the SR Team was proposed to the participants few days before the beginning of the Workshop to avoid overlapping with other ongoing activities (in particular, with the preparation of the Case Study). The participation was strictly on a voluntary basis to guarantee the full commitment of the members. The SR Team gathered for the very first time Sunday afternoon, for an informal meeting, to discuss: the idea, the background, the TORs, and the tasks distribution. Three people, other than me, took part to the meeting:

  • Djalo Mamadu Aliu, from Guinea Bissau, who became the blogger on the FSCA website,
  • Bah Thierno Souleymane, from Guinea, who committed himself to audio and video interviews,
  • Oumar Ndiaye, from Senegal, who offered to dedicate to photography,
  • Luca Servo, who acted as team coordinator and photo reporter.

Mrs Fofana, from Guinea, joined the Team during Day 1, adding lots of energy and more gender balance to the group. Additional informal meetings to verify the proceeding of the job took place during lunches and coffee breaks all week long. By the end of the Workshop, the SR Team produced:

  • A blog on the FSCA website, which recorded everyday activities and the impressions of the participants,
  • A photo gallery, on the FSCA flickr gallery, registering the main moments, the portraits of the participants and the groups, and all the posters produced during the week containing the results of the Team work,
  • A podcast channel broadcasting several interviews recorded during the week,
  • A twitter flow reporting about major steps taking place during the training.

THEMATIC ACTIVITIES: The facilitation Team had the objective to promote major integration among participants. To do so, we organized also several thematic events during lunch time which were called “Cross Cutting Gatherings – CCG”. The badge provided to each participants collected a series of information (name, country, and role) which helped organizing these events. In fact, using his/her badge, it was possible to address each participant to the right table of discussions during the thematic events which were:

  1. CCG I – Initial meeting by ROLE (Tuesday, lunch) to stimulate contacts within homogeneous groups of people with similar tasks inside the projects (Project staff, NPCs/NPDs/NPMs, ComDev consultants). The Facilitation Team got this occasion to join the group of National Project Coordinators.
  2. CCG IITHEMATIC lunch (Wednesday, lunch) to offer the chance to discuss specific topics identified by the participants.
  3. CCG III – Final meeting by ROLE (Friday, lunch) to ideally close the round of contacts within groups with similar tasks. The Facilitation Team got this chance to join the group of Communication Consultants.

CONCLUSIONS: The Workshop was a great success. We were able to get participants fully involved in the activities and develop high level of interaction. The final evaluation demonstrated the appreciation for the adoption of new techniques, an informal approach and a participatory methodology.

This experience strongly confirmed our beliefs and suggestions: we highly recommend to embed the Communication for Development component in every Development project/programme and to develop such a Workshop, at least twice during the life of a project: once at the very beginning of the implementation and another one at the very end.

Lots of interaction and discussion during the FSCA workshop in Dakar

Read also:

  1. Lesson learned 1
  2. Lesson learned 2