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

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