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Eighteen months of experience capitalisation at CTA

February 12, 2018

The “Capitalisation of Experiences for Greater Impact in Rural Development” project is being implemented in different parts of the world by CTA, in collaboration with FAO and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), and with financial support from IFAD. The project began in April 2016 and lasts for 3 years, with the aim to facilitate the adoption of an experience capitalisation process in rural development initiatives.

‘Experience capitalisation’ refers to the process by which a specific project, or experience is described and analysed in detail, and from which lessons are drawn and shared. It is an approach that helps identify specific innovations and practices, gain insight and understand the reasons behind the successes or failures. One of the main benefits of an experience capitalisation process is that it can help to provide evidence, supporting advocacy efforts. The capacities and the collaborative relationships of those involved in the process are also strengthened as a result of their participation.

A series of capitalisation processes

The project grouped its activities around four major components which have helped to guide the project interventions. The first group of activities focused on planning and consultation on implementing the project itself and timely organisation of activities in collaboration with our partners to yield the desired project outcomes. This included the organisation of planning and technical meetings with different organisations involved in developing an online learning module on experience capitalisation and developing a method to gather information on potential cases for capitalisation.

The main objective addressed during the project’s first year was to multiply the number of facilitators who will scale up further processes of capitalisation. Sourcing from partner organisations and experienced individuals as lead facilitators, a first round of training was started, and through a ‘learning by doing’ approach, new ‘champions’ were identified who could co-facilitate further capitalisation processes at local level. Thus, the second component of the project comprised of a series of capitalisation processes has been ongoing. Having now completed a set of capitalisation processes in different countries and the identification of new champions, the project is working on the organisation of a set of online courses, drawing on the information provided by the ‘learning module’, by the different workshops already held, and by the experiences of the participants.

The third component is the dissemination of results. The project supports and facilitates an online Community of Practice, encouraging a culture of reflection and learning among the implementing teams. This includes the facilitation of online discussions and the presentation of all results on a virtual platform . The ‘learning module’ developed the IMARK consortium, facilitated by FAO, which builds on the different experience capitalisation efforts that have been tested and implemented by different organisations through the world, has also been translated into Spanish and French. The project is now preparing a training guide for facilitators and a set of guidelines for organisations (or participants) to develop an action plan to enhance adoption and institutionalisation.

Adoption and institutionalisation

The project’s fourth component addresses the steps related to the adoption of the main lessons learnt, and to the validation and institutionalisation of the experience capitalisation approach, as part of an organisation’s knowledge management strategy. Having generated a series of cases through the training sessions, the project is developing approaches to ensure that the lessons learnt in each process can be ‘used’ by a new initiative or by another project, and that the different organisations are incorporating an experience capitalisation process into their day-to-day activities. To achieve this objective, the project is currently focusing on:

  • Analysing the uptake and adoption of the results of the capitalisation process, following a few online webinars and also online discussions, and the implementation of the action plans prepared by participants during the workshops.
  • Validating the steps and processes recommended for an experience capitalisation process, as a key component of an organisation’s knowledge management strategy.
  • Analysing the possibilities for mainstreaming an experience capitalisation process and facilitating its institutionalisation (regularly putting it into practice, and learning from experiences on a continuous basis).
  • Including online webinars and online discussions, drawing on the preparation and implementation of concrete action plans and on the creation of an enabling environment in every organisation.

Where are we now?

One of the project’s main objectives is to promote a ‘learning by doing’ approach. Organisations have improved their capacities to document, analyse, share and utilise lessons – and simultaneously complete a capitalisation process. Every process started with the dissemination of the ‘learning module’ – inviting participants to go through it – and the organisation of a face-to-face training workshop where participants started their own capitalisation process. Each process then continued with a second workshop, focusing on the preparation of a set of products to share among participants, supporting the exchange of ideas and information, and facilitating the lessons learnt among like-minded organisations. These workshops also helped to develop a dissemination strategy, identifying various media channels and the products needed for some specific target audiences, as well an action plan to ensure that the lessons learnt were put into practice.

The general training process has had very positive results. Work with five groups – in Eastern Africa, India, Mozambique, South East Asia and West Africa – has been completed, and work has also started in Latin America, in the francophone countries of West and Central Africa, and in the Pacific. The different teams are now busy with the publication of the cases which look at the different experiences in detail, and which present the main insights and lessons learnt.

Further information on the Experience capitalization website.