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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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FSCA-PISA Workshop on ComDev: Lessons learned 2

ComDev Workshop scheduleSCHEDULE: the Facilitation Team agreed on dedicating five full days to ComDev. One can argue that it is not enough time but for us, given the background and the resources, this was a good compromise. In line with the objectives, the agenda was divided into five main Steps and several activities. Every step was described in an ad-hoc agenda which was distributed to the participants before the beginning of the Workshop:

1. BASICS (1/2 day)

  • Intro to workshop about KEY points of the week
  • Description of the OBJECTIVES of the training
  • Proposal of a people-centred approach to describe the projects through people’s perspective
  • Overview of the projects’ innovative aspects and main benefits
  • Collective reflection on the beneficiaries’ perception, expectation and participation with regards to the project
  • ComDev component-activities to date and first impressions

2. COMDEV THEORY (1/2 day)

  • Theoretical background
  • Communication planning
  • Gender and Communication
  • Methodological approaches tools
  • Tools, channels, techniques
  • ComDev strategy design
  • Monitoring & Evaluation

3. COMDEV FOR FSCA-PISA PROJECTS (2 and 1/2 days)

  • Analysis of Communication Issues in FSCA projects
  • Success vs Constrains: Identification of communication issues
  • Presentation of Case Studies
  • Matching Constraints with Solutions
  • Regional approach
  • Networking Initiatives
  • FSCA forward looking: Ideas for the future and Collaborations&synergies

4. LABORATORIES (1 day)

  • Web Lab
  • Photo Lab
  • Radio Lab
  • Video Lab
  • Mobile Telephony Lab

5. CONCLUSIONS (1/2 day)

  • Workshop Evaluation
  • Closing session

In addition, we prepared also a detailed plan for facilitators only, with more information such as: name of the facilitator, learning objectives, description and details of the activity, facilitation technique, materials and specific support required, and a long list of notes taken during the prep meetings.
These notes were very important to give a shape to the flow of the training and collect all the reflections done by the Team members during the preparatory works: I strongly suggest to collect them. It really helps keeping record of the logical evolution of the planning as you can easily lose track when the preparation takes long.

FACILITATION METHODS: we decided to adopt a specific facilitation method for each session of the training. This choice had 2 objectives: offer the participants the occasion to test the widest range of new methods, and organize dynamic sessions introducing different kind of incentives. As a result, we carried out:

  • A Chat show, with the communication consultants, to introduce the actors and their work,
  • A World café, finalized to learn more about expectations, perceptions, and participation of the beneficiaries in the field,
  • A Case Study exercise, to highlight a specific obstacle encountered in the implementation of the ComDev strategy,
  • A SWOT Analysis, to make a collective effort of analysing good and bad aspects of each project,
  • The network mapping, to graphically design communication flows inside and outside the National teams and develop a visual approach to communication,
  • The mind mapping, to discuss the objectives of the national projects and their inter-regional connections,
  • The Wall of participants, to link names with faces and put people in contact,
  • A public Rules collection, to have the participants fully engaged in the workshop,
  • A Dotmocracy, to collect a final feedback on the main aspects the workshop,
  • The Social Reporting Team, to provide direct feedback on the activities and get participants involved in the use of Social Media.

Network mapping

Moreover, in the effort to stimulate higher attention in the audience, the Facilitation Team decided to avoid powerpoint presentation. Initially, this decision provoked astonishment in the participants but it produced positive results in stimulating people’s fantasy and creativity, especially during the presentation of the Case Studies (see the photo below!).

The Team of Guinea presenting the Case Study about mangue

Introducing important tools like the Case Study exercise and the SWOT analysis were significant steps. At the end of the training, we asked for a punctual evaluation both of them, receiving, respectively, a 52% and a 70% of positive votes.

Read also:

  1. Lesson learned 1
  2. Lesson learned 3


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FSCA-PISA Workshop on ComDev: Lessons learned 1

The training on Communication for Development organized for the FSCA-PISA programme was a great success. We saw enthusiasm and a lot of interaction during the five days spent in Dakar with the seven National Teams. Now it is time to put order among all the innovations we introduced. My first notes are about the Organization and the Language issue.

The participants to the Training in ComDev

  • ORGANIZATION: the FAO Facilitation Team composed by Riccardo, Silvia, Antonello, Catherine, Elena and I worked for long time on the preparatory activities. The original idea of delivering a technical training was launched early 2010 and evolved into a broader event, aimed at discussing ComDev in general.
    The debate on the objectives took long. At the end, we decided to approach ComDev as a whole rather than focusing on a specific tool (the web, in our case). This choice answered to the perceived need to clarify ComDev concepts and details among the FSCA National teams.
    The first discussions took place before Christmas. At the beginning we defined objectives, target audience and a draft calendar of activities. Then, one meeting after the other, we got into each macro activity to define it in details, from the learning objectives to a precise timetable.

Opening of the FSCA-PISA Training on ComDev

  • 7 COUNTRIES and 2 LANGUAGES: the language issue was one of the main problem to afford. Both the organization and the content were strongly influenced by this factor, in every step of the preparation. The initial idea of having two different sessions, one for the Anglophones and another one for the Francophones, was abandoned in favour of one single workshop with interpretation provided to the two groups. As a consequence, the budget, the agenda, the schedule, the content and the logistic were deeply affected.
    I admit that this was the right choice to do: being an introductory training to a strongly participative but relatively new discipline for the participants, the one-group approach highlighted all its strengths. At the end of the event, people’s appreciation for meeting all together confirmed this idea.
    Suggestion: do not underestimate the problems and the costs due to interpretation of the workshop and the translation of the documentation. Moreover, test the ability of the interpreters and provide them the training material well in advance.

Read also:

  1. Lesson learned 2
  2. Lesson learned 3


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Here we come

We are just few hours from the official starting of the FSCA-PISA workshop on ComDev. It is night and I’m almost closing my laptop after having prepared the latest documents for tomorrow.

This afternoon, during “day 0“, the first important goal was achieved: the Social Reporting Team met to discuss our activities and share the tasks. We decided to go for pictures, podcasting and blog posts. Video is a possibility but we have to find time and support for that.

The Social Reporting Team

As you can see in the picture, the Team is officially (and initially) composed by Oumar Ndiaye (Senegal), Thierno Souleymane Bah (Guinee), Mamadu Aliu Djalo (Guinee-Bissau) and myself.

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Only few days before the FSCA ComDev Workshop!

This is the last week before the beginning of the FSCA-PISA Training in ComDev that will take place next week in Dakar, Senegal.

The FSCA-PISA Workshop Agenda

The list of tasks to complete is long at least as the list of innovations and new opportunities we are offering the participants. Among others, I would like to remember:

  • the use of several interactive methodologies to facilitate the sharing of knowledge (World Café, Chat show, Open Space, Dotmocracy, Network Mapping, SWOT Analysis, Mindmapping)
  • the six different communication labs dedicated to: web, video, photo, rural radio and mobile telephony
  • the preparation of a Case Study to identify the main issues in the Communication strategies
  • the five Cross Cutting Thematic Meetings organised during coffee breaks and lunches
  • the proposal of a Social Reporting Team to document the event
  • the video-photo coverage of the week
  • the interactive website collecting any information about the event since early this year
  • the informal approach used for the training

Sometimes all of those ideas seems old and not valuable. In reality, while preparing such an event with over 45 people involved, you realize how difficult is to adopt new approaches and what big benefits the trainees can have from them.