Capitalizing on experiences for greater impact in rural development was a large-grant project, which was supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and agreed with CTA in March 2016. It was implemented together with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA) with the intention of supporting the sustainable adoption of experience capitalization as an approach for continuous learning, improvement and scaling up.
"Experience capitalization" refers to the process by which a specific project or programme (or "an experience" in general) is described and analysed in detail, and from which lessons are drawn, shared and used to improve development interventions. It is an approach that helps identify specific innovations and practices, and understand the reasons behind success or failure. One of the main benefits of an experience capitalization process is that it can help provide evidence and support advocacy efforts. At the same time, different documents show that both the capacities and the collaborative relationships of those involved in the process are strengthened as a result of their participation.
The project lasted for three years, and involved projects and organizations working in different parts of the world. During these years, CTA
- prepared, used and shared a series of training materials, together with a facilitators’ guidebook – building on the resources already available, but more specifically on the experience accumulated by the project as a whole;
- ran a series of training workshops and supported the completion of experience capitalization processes in countries including Mozambique and India, and across East Africa, West Africa (in French and in English), South East Asia, the Pacific region and Latin America;
- completed the editing, layout and publication of 10 booklets with the results of the capitalization processes started in different parts of the world (with more than 120 cases in total), together with two additional booklets focusing on the capitalization process itself and on its institutionalization; and
- ran a series of webinars for online facilitators, focusing on the organization and facilitation of a community of practice, and invited different participants to guide and facilitate the regional communities - in English (East and West Africa and in the Pacific region), French (West Africa), Portuguese (Brazil and Mozambique) and Spanish (Latin America).
While the project worked with a large number of participants and supported many different capitalization processes, the most interesting result is that it validated the approach, showing that it effectively leads to lessons and recommendations, and to better development initiatives. After three years, CTA believes that the way it organized all activities, and the contact it had with all participants, was effective. As a result, some of the innovations tried in a particular place were replicated elsewhere, and became a regular practice and part of an organization’s regular knowledge management activities.
At the end of 2020, the experience capitalization documents and training materials were handed over to the African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS), a continental body that brings national agricultural extension and advisory services under one umbrella. As part of their efforts to support the “enhanced utilization of improved knowledge, technologies and innovations to catalyse sustainable inclusive agricultural development to feed and create prosperity for Africa”, AFAAS will be training and supporting other organizations on experience capitalization, promoting its use.