donderdag 20 november 2008

New agricultural method helps farmers to improve their livelihood

Wadep, an IICD supported project in Nkwanta, Volta region (Ghana) collaborates with Agricultural Extension oOficers to provide farmers with information on improved planting methods.

Take Mr Ingwanu Bale, he farms with his family cowpeas. I met him during my trip to Ghana in October 2008 accompanied by Mr Ibrahim Inusah (GINKS) and Mr Obed twabu (Wadep). He used to plant the traditional way, which is random planting of seeds.

Cowpea is grown mainly by peasant farmers who have limited access to purchased inputs for the crop. It is grown in marginal soils as intercrop with cereals
but a few farmers like Mr bale grow cowpea as sole crop. The soils are of low
natural fertility and the crop depends almost entirely on rainfall.

After a training from Wadep and the Agricultural Extension Officer from the Ministry of Agriculture he has changed his methods. He now plants in rows, which improved the harvest with 70%. This means that both his children are now able to go to school. He is convinced that this new method works and want to help to convert the other farmers in his community. The new method is more labour intensive than the traditional one, but because of the higher yield more profitable. Watch the video for more information from Mr Ingwanu Bale.


Mr Ingwanu Bale, cow pea farmer and Mr Obed Twabu, Wadep

donderdag 30 oktober 2008

Projectnode meeting with IICD partners in Tamale (Ghana)

During this joint project node meeting, IICD partners from Northern and Southern Ghana met each other to share their knowledge and experiences. This time 6 new partners from the Community Information Centres in Salaga, Yendi, Bimbilla, Bolgatanga, Navrongo and Zebilla joint the project node meeting for the first time. So it was first time for an introduction. But the main theme was collaboration between CIC and project partner. The meeting was held on the 29th October at Radach Memorial Centre in Tamale (Ghana). The meeting was organised by the Ghana Information and Knowledge Sharing Network (GINKS) and facilitated by Mr Alhaji A.Y.M.B Ibrahima.

The meeting was with 25 participants very busy. The Managers from the IICD supported Community Information Centres joined the meeting for the first time and they were able to met with staff members from other IICD supported projects from the North: SEND Foundation from Tamale, , Mapronet from Tamale, PEPS-C from Wa, ACDEP from Tamale, WADEP from Nkwanta and from the South: Global Teenager Project Ghana and Ministry of Information and National Orientation (MINO). The Monitoring and Evaluation partner of IICD, DASF based in Tamale was also attending the meeting. From IICD itself Mr Olaf Erz, country manager Ghana and Ms Martine Koopman, Officer Knowledge Sharing were both present.

Interview with Maggie Kyiu, DASF

The meeting started with introduction of each other by presenting a short description of the project, the target groups that projects addressed and their link to other projects. The main theme was a brainstorm session how the CIC's could collaborate more with the IICD partners. Especally when CIC's are in the same town as project partners collaboration could be focused on sharing technical skills, shared connectivity, development of local content. Ideas were also shared how CIC's could become more sustainable. The main message was there: be creative, develop a range of services to attract people to your centre, know what the people in your community need. Eeven without connectivity, which is a major challenge in the rural areas you can train people in basic ICT skills, sell phone credits, become a Western Union centre, rent yiur venue to other organisations including catering, etc. Key is collaboration with other organisations and government officals like District Information Officers. So that you really create a COMMUNITY INFORMATION Centre.

Saira Qureshi gave a presentation on best practices on project management and writing for the web. A lively discussion afterwards followed especially about creation of own webpages or blogs for CIC's.

The last subject was an inventarisation of connectivity solutions and challenges that the projects were facing. In the North 3 options seems to prevail. GPRS modems are coming up, they seem cheaper and just as reliable as other options, but could not be connected with to too many computers. GT Broadband was the second option and VSAT the third. All projects were facing major problems related to connectivity like unreliable or no service, difficulties with technical support and high prices. The group agreed to finalize a table with an overview of all options, costs and pro's and con's of each option.

At the end of the meeting an action plan was made for 2009 discussing the topics for future meetings. After some networking after the meeting everyone went home with at least one idea that they could practice in their own project.

zaterdag 18 oktober 2008

What makes a good project node meeting?

by Martine Koopman

What determines the success of an IICD Projectnode meeting? Is it the number of participants? Is it the location? Is it the topics on the agenda? Or the vibrant discussions on practical subjects? What was clear on the 18th and 19th September 2008 at the Gemistar Lodge in Lusaka Zambia, is that it was a big success, because everyone went home with a feeling of satisfaction and belonging.

The project node meeting started almost on time with all IICD project partners in Zambia. With the new health project partners on board: Zambian Union of Nurses (ZUNO), Zambian National Blood Transfusion Services (ZNBTS) and Caritas Catholic Diocese of Mongu (DOM-HBC) who attended for the first time, a lot of time was spent on introductions. This was done in a special way. All projects were asked to make a short presentation, based on a template. These presentations were stuck on the walls. During the breaks people could walk around and read each others' presentations. Later in the day there was time to ask questions about eachother's projects.

project node meeting sept08From the presentations all challenges were clustered around four themes: Technical issues, Management issues, Logistical issues and Culture/Motivational issues. In three groups (Logistical and Cultural together) each theme was extensively discussed and potential solutions were presented to each other. Challenges were sometimes similar, but slightly different, and solutions for one challenge were generating more ideas for other challenges as well.

The challenges that came out was the difficulties to use Open Source software without proper training. This was an issue many of the projects had fased. The project teams had just received two CD’s called NGO-in-a-box (the base CD and Open Publishing) so the solution was easy. Some project teams had more experience than others. E-Brain, the national ICT4D network, has established a Technical Support group with techies from within the IICD supported projects (and other interested techies as well). On the D-group everyone can ask each other questions on Open Source Software or other technical issues. E-Brain will also organise some very practical Open Source Software training to project partners as well. Jennifer from ZUNO:

“I thought that we were the only one with Open Source Software issues, but now I understand that there were more projects with similar challenges who have now already more experience than we.”

Kelvin Luputa M&E partner ZambiaOur Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) partner Kelvin Luputa presented the M&E system again especially for the new project partners, but also as a refresher for the others. A Question & Answer session started with a lively discussion. More partners are now enthusiastic about the M&E system and will go back to collect the necessary questionnaires for an End-user Focus group meeting at project level so that more can be learned about the impact of their projects.

The second day was much more practical. Lee Muzala shared several ways to get connected through GSM dongles and blue tooth connection with your GSM. Many questions were asked and answered.

The last presentation was a joint presentation from Lyson Chikunduzi from the Copperbelt College of Education and Gonzalo Portal from the Mpelembe Secondary School (ENEDCO project) on Local Content Development. Their presentation covered some challenges that both project were fasing, for example how to motivate the teachers. However, the highlight of their presentation was a demonstration of lessons that were developed with the help of Powerpoint and Scratch (animation software). Everyone wanted to do more hands-on training in order to work with it in their own projects.

Most participants went back to their projects with a lot of new ideas that hopefully will find their way to more project staff and end-users to continue the sharing of knowledge and experiences. To get an impression of the project node meeting watch the video