donderdag 9 december 2010

Reflections on the CCLE Livelihoods in Tema Ghana

I had heard a lot about CCLEs from colleagues and last year I had a brief participation in the CCLE Gender in The Hague last year, but now I would actually be part of a CCLE from the start. Denise, Annemiek and Ibrahim from GINKS had spent already a lot of time in the preparation of the event. The Visas were a nightmare especially for the South American participants. Participants changed, flight schedule even the location changed during the preparation. But on the 27th November Denise and me flew to Ghana. On Sunday we managed to meet Eddie, the co-facilitator. He had been out of town so we could not discuss the programme and facilitation earlier. Late afternoon we travelled from our Accra Hotel to our CCLE hotel in Tema. We had time to discuss with the translators, who were setting up their boots. It was a tri-lingual event with simultaneous translation for all participants. One by one the participants arrived from Bolivia, Uganda, Zambia, Ecuador, Mali, Burkina Faso and from the Northern part of Ghana. Communicating with the people from Burkina, who travelled in a noisy bus, was difficult because both Denise and me don’t speak very much French. But they managed to arrive. On Monday morning we were all there but one. Cecilia from Ecuador had a day delay with her plain. The translation at first was tough to follow. You have to get used to the voices, you miss the emotion in the voice and have to concentrate more, but you get used to it and the added value that everyone could speak in their own language (although several spoke local languages as well) was good.

The first day was a day of introduction of the people and their projects. We learned about the meaning of each others name, about their personal stories of the impact of ICT on their work and how they were selling the one thing that everyone should know about their project. Clear was that many people were not really used to this elevator pitch and talked much longer about their project!

Day 2 we were digging deeper with a special session on market price information platforms with a special guest, Bernard, from Esoko. But mainly also the experiences of SEND Foundation (Ghana) and Prefectura Santa Cruz (Bolivia). Eddie our facilitator energized us after lunch with an impressive dry football exercise. The afternoon was much appreciated by the participants. AOPEB (Bolivia), Coprakazan (Mali) and NAIS (Zambia) presented their case to the three different language groups. I facilitated the Coprakazan and it was interesting to observe the difference between the French language participants, English and Spanish. They all had very valuable questions and recommendation, but a different approach.

Day 3 we reflected on key lessons in 5 years Livelihoods programmes. First at individual level and after that on Country level. All countries could present their findings. Some key quotes from that sessions: “Radio is a major tool to disseminate information in rural areas of Bolivia”, “In Burkina Faso sms is the most important tool to reach out to more farmers”. From Ghana they mentioned “High illiteracy rates under farmers is a major challenge for the fast development of the agricultural sector”. For Mali a major breakthrough was “the demystification of ICT has achieved in Mali that farmers are not afraid anymore for computers, this made it easier to disseminate information”. For Zambia an important lesson from the last five years was that “Linkages between research – extension and farmers in the agricultural sector made agricultural practices more visible in Zambia”. The common factor between most of our projects is according to Uganda “The effective dissemination of information to farmers”. The closing afternoon focused on networking and knowledge sharing on local and international level. Denise showed the new i-Connect Online platform and encouraged everyone to share their stories and blogs in the Livelihood group.

The last evening we had a stunning dance performance from a Ghanaian Dance group. The whole group did an attempt to dance as well. It was directly clear why all the dancers had a nice six pack, because it was hard work and a very high tempo. After the dance I left the group to go to Accra already, because I had a mHealth seminar the next morning and the traffic jam from Tema to Accra is huge. I really enjoyed the three day CCLE and looking forward to see everyone online.

dinsdag 7 december 2010

Impression of mHealth Africa Summit

mHealth Africa Summit
1st and 2nd December 2010 in Accra, Ghana

With reported mobile subscriptions to be over 379 million, Africa is home to one of the fastest growing mobile markets in the world. Over half of the population in African countries (roughly 70% in Ghana) uses mobile phones. At mHealth Africa Summit around 80 professionals from the mobile industry, health care professionals, Government officials, academia and NGO professionals came together to discuss the potential and the challenges of the role of mobile devices in health delivery. But the real innovators on the ground the health care workers in the field who invent new ways of using the mobile phone were not invited.

After the key note speaker, the HE prof Peter Anyang Nyong ‘o, the Minister of medical Services of Kenya spoke about the future of mHealth the conference started during the day with several interactive panels. The presenters had each a few minutes to present the key issues and after a Q&A session you had more time to speak with them during the breaks. This way you had a quick overview of what is going on in Africa at the moment. My focus was mainly on projects that are on the ground in the countries that we work like MOTECH (mobile technology for community health) in Ghana , a collaboration between the Ghana Health Service, the Grameen foundation, Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health that is working to determine how best to use mobile phones to increase the quality and quantity of antenatal and neonatal care in rural Ghana. This could be of interest for SEND Foundation and NAIS, because the use a mobile midwife application for pregnant women with audio messages in local language. They also have a mobile application for nurses with a $40 mobile phone including a patient information systems and sms reminders to patients for reminders of appointments for immunisation of their children. The nurses can see who missed these appointments on their mobile phones. At the end of the month a report is automatically created, which saved a lot of time for the participating nurses.

Management Science for Health (MSH) Director Piers Bocock gave some interesting examples about Malawi especially the Knowledge for Health (K4H) project that focuses on the dissemination of quality information and the connection of Community Health workers at district hospitals. The K4Health mHealth toolkit was also of interest as a good resource on mHealth and what role it can play in reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, Malaria and health data collection.

A third presentation of interest was from Dr Thomas Brennan of Oxford University about mobile medical devices that could be linked to a mobile telephone like a mobile stethoscope that can measure remote heart sound.

What was missing in the conference was an exhibition to see some of the developed projects. The time to present was short in order to show many different pilot projects. Most struggled in their efforts to scale up. This was one of the key discussions of the conference. How to scale up without loosing local ownership and a bottom up approach is difficult with culture as an important factor both in terms of acceptance and attitude towards change. Much efforts are also needed for Policy developments and to implement a business model that makes it sustainable. Open Standards, Government support (en not control) and further deregulation are key for further upscaling to create more impact. With a big hope for the access to glass fibre to make mobile internet better affordable, reliable. The Ghana Health Service is now building their own network to public health facilities in Ghana although maintenance is outsourced to a private contractor. In Kenya the Government also has developed their eHealth / mHealth strategy and are connecting all hospitals to glass fibre. Financial support in this is necessary but available in funds like the Africa Health Fund. Cultural and Policy changes have a higher priority.

donderdag 18 november 2010

Maggie Makulu , the Evergreen Zambian Nurse

Ms Makulu “This is my beloved country where I was born and there could never be a better place than home with her other ICT health participants during a IICD supported Health workshop in Lusaka Ms Makulu with ZUNO colleagues during the health workshop

Times of Zambia 30th October 2010
By Darlington Mwendabai (

Maggie Makulu reflects on how she has managed to contain the wave of mass exodus by health personnel from Zambia to foreign lands. The health sector in most developing countries has suffered numerous setbacks due to brain drain and Zambia has not been spared although Government is making every effort to stop the trend as it was depleting human resource.

Qualified nurses are seeking job opportunities elsewhere all in the name of greener pastures, but one patriotic Luanshya nurse has defied all odds to make the pasture greener within as well as contribute to quality health care service delivery.

Ms Makulu who is self motivated has served Zambia as a nurse for the past 16 years and now she reflects on how she has managed to contain the wave of mass exodus by health personnel from Zambia to foreign lands in search of a better life style most of peers have done.

Ms Makulu could just be among a few dedicated health personnel who have resolved to remain in this country despite the unsatisfactory working conditions, low saleries and poor working conditions simply because she has a special calling and is committed and dedicated to what she is doing.

In the last decade, the country had been starved of professional health personnel who are being absorbed to provide clinic care in developed countries in Europe, America and Asia where better health care systems exist.

It is an open secret that most nurses who have left the country have done so because of low numerations, poor working conditions, absence of career development schemes. Simply put, lack of better health incentives in the sector.

Ms Makulu notes that better working conditions are important for motivating health workers if they have to perform their tasks diligently as they are vital workers responsible for saving human lives. She said this should be complimented by satisfactory working conditions comprising of clean and safe environment, innovative management, availability of medical equipment and supplies.

Ms Makulu who was born in the 1970s commenting on her present civil service salary which could be described as meager by certain critics, said what was important to her was not the money, but that she is driven by passion to serve Zambia in a special way and that is, nursing the sick in the community. Ms Makulu recounted that she tried to apply through many recruiting health agencies so that she could go and work abroad, but to no avail.

Now she feels that her nursing career is calling from God and that she is destined to work here in Zambia and nowhere else.

One might wonder who this nurse is who was spurned all overtures to secure a better paying job in developed countries, but has opted to serve Mother Zambia as a committed patriot. has refused to enjoy life in developed countries where milk and honey flows daily.

Well in the eyes of the ordinary person she is like any other mere citizen, but from her ordeal one could easily tell that she is geared to serve Mother Zambia alone due to her love for the country and passion to serve her people despite the prevailing circumstances.

Ms Makulu laughs at the thought harbored by some people that Zambia is not a land of milk and honey, she thinks it is. “This is my beloved country where I was born and there could never be a better place than home” she says.

Like many others, Maggie’s early childhood would be incomplete without explaining the hardships which she encountered considering that she was brought up by a single parent who is her mother since she was five years old. “I do not know up to now who my real father is, whether he is alive or not. I grew up in a family of four but now my sister and brother are dead we have just remained two of us with my brother,” she recalls. Her mother could not manage to look after her so she migrated to the tourist city Livingstone, where she was looked after by her uncle William Mbilitu who made sure that from 1978-1984 she did her primary school at Nansanga Primary School.

Thereafter, she did her secondary school at Linda secondary school from 1985-1989 however, all these years, she never dreamt of becoming a nurse instead all she desired was to be a tourist tour guard perhaps because she was influenced by life in the tourist capital city.

But the tide suddenly changed when Ms Makulu enrolled in the school of nursing in Livingstone from 1991 – 1993, then her dream as a tour guide would be aborted, instead a new era dawned of hope for her to look after the sick.

“I was happy when I completed my nursing course and was then posted to Copperbelt’s Arthur Davison Children’s hospital (ADH) in Ndola,” she says with a relief.

However, she was saddened at the loss of her mother who passed on upon completion of her nursing course, but she was lucky that her uncle Mr Mbilitu had to take over full responsibility as a parent.
Although this mum’s loss still lingers on in her thoughts, she was proud to mention that, she has “a heart for nursing” hence that did not her work in anyway in as far as caring for ailing children, who needed a tender nursing care was concerned.
“Despite the hardship I went through as child, I wanted a better future for the Zambia children hence I gave all my best to serve them and here I am doing the same thing,” she says. Ms Makulu despite working hard to nurse children with various afflictions and ailments at one point also needed a companion who could nurse and tender her as a wife, so she got married in 1998. She and her husband relocated to the mining town of Luanshya together, but has since continued rendering her noble nursing services unconstrained and she is also using her position in the nurses union to lobby improved conditions of service and salaries for nurses.

In 2004, she joined the then Zambia Nurses Association (ZNA) now Zambia Union of Nurses Organisation(ZUNO) and so she became Luanshya branch vice chairperson, but the Association had no teeth to bit since nurses were then not allowed to form a union in the health sector.

The transformation of ZNA to ZUNO 2007 saw Ms Makulu retain her previous position as vice branch person however she opted to stand amidst men at the provincial level for the position of vice secretary which was heavily contested but she managed to scoop it by a wide margin.

Ms Makulu said she does not regret working for 16 years serving under the Ministry of Health instead she was thankful to God that he has given her the chance to work in ZUNO as a union representative addressing the plight mainly of her colleagues and some positive changes have since taken place. ZUNO had since trained more nurses in the past three years in entrepreneurship to cushion negative impact of retirement after leaving employment. Members have also been exposed to leadership skills trainings. “Most importantly, we have been trained in Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) by Netherland’s Organization International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD),” she says. She says tertiary hospitals are not only few but far apart coupled with a chronic shortage of qualified staff, drugs and basic equipment, but she was quickly to mention that ICTs were bridging the gap as she and other nurses have to go to Ndola for certain medical consultations

Instead, ZUNO was addressing the shortage of brain drain in special way by ensuring that partners like IICD were training nurses and providing resources such as computers to them. ZUNO had since established ICTs resource centresat its head office in Lusaka, the Copperbelt and in Western Province where about 9000 nurses have now access to the internet and email facilities. “This had been one of greatest motivation. We have improved our health service delivery as a result of improving computer literacy to nurses however, we need more computers and better internet connectivity especially in rural areas,” she said.

Commenting on why women even after 46 years of Zambia’s independence are struggling to work together, Ms Makulu said it was sad most of the women seem to support men more as opposed to their own kind.

She advised young women to have goals in life adding that had she not had a goal as child, she could not have served the country in the manner she is currently doing.
As a member of the United Church of Zambia (UCZ) she loves God and her role in the church as a girls brigade officer who in a near future contemplates to run her own nursing home.

maandag 18 oktober 2010

Reflection on two weeks writeshop Barefootguide 2 in Kalk Bay

On Monday I arrived excited and full of expectations, but also with a feeling of despair: How can we make sense of all these first drafts. Because at arrival everyone received a big booklet with all the chapters. Most I had read already before and the styles and set up of the chapters did differ a lot. We were really missing Quang, Tripti, Alfred and Phillippa although new faces took their places: Kas (Spain), Aissata (Senegal) and Meg our illustrator.

The first week focused on feedback. I even had to present two chapters, also that of Quang. An inner and outer circle were created. With every presentation four people were in the inner circle to give you feed back. The feedback was very helpful, but meant of course a lot of re-writing. It felt also as a relief, after receiving the feedback. My chapter does make sense, but needs to be modified. I gave four people feedback my self in the inner circle. On Friday I had a long session with Doug, one of the Editors and Atieno, my writing Buddy to discuss both our chapters and how we should do the re-write. My feelings changed between “How will I really do that in such a short time” to more confidence about my writing abilities. This meeting was a turning point and very important for the writing in the second week.

In the weekend we had time to think and refresh. I went to Hermanus to watch whales. Beautiful to see them so close to the shores. So on Sunday I could start my re-writing with the ideas I had myself and the feedback from last week.

The second week had a different pace. I always started early in the morning (6.30) with a run along theWriting in Kalk Bay beach and a nice breakfast. The weather was ok, but mostly with a lot of wind. After breakfast you had time to write or talk with your editor. After lunch there was always a creative sessions, to stimulate your writing again. I painted, made a beautiful colorful collage and learned how to flash write. Great sessions which we should do more in workshops. The afternoon back to re-writing with feedback in the late afternoon. At 6 there were music sessions with Marimba lessons and drumming. Thursday we delivered our final draft to the editors with a nice Braai and Marimba performance from Doug and his band. Great dancing music.

BFG2Friday we discussed the Action Research. Next year the Barefootguide will be tried out by several organizations around a learning challenge they have to see how effective the Barefootguide is to support them. We closed with a poem and a nice new group photo of all our bare feet. And than it was time to say goodbye after two great, inspiring weeks. Writing, -re-writing and re-rewriting can be great fun and resulted in the end into a big booklet again with final drafts for the editing team. They still have to kill some of our darlings, but I am confident that an inspiring, relevant guidebook can be published and used by ourselves and our partners!

Looking back at these two weeks I also wonder how we could implement some of the creative sessions / methods within IICD, because I found out that writing in combination with creative sessions (left and write brain combined) really improves the productivity and the way you write. Also the focus on reflection was very valuable.

donderdag 23 september 2010


This blog is originally from Stephen Agbenyo's Blog

Friday, July 30, 2010


The teachers’ forum which drew its membership from schools in the Tamale Metropolis and the Savelugu District in Northern Ghana was held at the GILBT Training Centre in Tamale. It was organised by Savana Signatures ( with the support of the International Institute for Communications and Development (

Some of the schools which were present at the forum include Savelugu Experimental Junior High School, Pong-Tamale Senior High School, Bishops’ Junior High School, Darul Hardis Junior High School, Dakpema Primary and Junior High Schools many among others. Present at the forum were head teachers, ICT teachers and other subject area teachers. Also present were some selected students of Savana Signatures ICT Club, the media and other sister NGO’s such as Action Aid Ghana, CALID, Child Reach International, ISODEC, Grassroot Sisterhood Foundation, Youth Action on Reproductive Order (YARO) and Initiative for Integrated Development (IFID).

The chairperson, Madam Fati Alhassan, the Executive Director of Grassroot Sisterhood Foundation, in her acceptance speech urged participants to pay keen attention to issues that will be discussed at the forum since ICT has come to stay and the earlier we embraced this reality, the better it will be for us as a people and as a nation.

For full blog

donderdag 19 augustus 2010

ZUNO Resource Centre Mongu

The Zambian Union of Nurses (ZUNO) have offices in every province. In Western Province Beatrice Mukambo is the chairperson and Martin Wabusa is the Resource Centre officer.

Nurses in Zambia have a need for up-to-date medical information. In this pilot project the Zambia Union of Nurses Organisation (ZUNO) will support their members with an Information and Communication Technologies resource centre in their head office in Lusaka and in their provincial offices in the Copperbelt and in Western Province. It will provide a group of about 9000 nurses access to the internet and email facilities. Furthermore this project gives access to professional nursing study materials, including opportunities for e-learning, and also provides an electronic library to members and the general public.

In Western Province the Resource Centre is based in the NAPSA Office building in a small room, between several other small companies. The resource centre provide training to nurses, but also office services like copying, typing and internet browsing to be more sustainable. At the moment the centre makes a small profit that is used to organise face-to-face meetings between nurses in the Western Province.

The centre is saving for a binding machine to increase their services and would like to set up a mobile library to distribute information also outside the Mongu area. They would like to use video more, because visualisation of nursing tasks makes it easier to understand. The materials could than also be used in the community.

Organic Producers and Processors Association of Zambia (OPPAZ)

OPPAZ is short form for the Organic Producers and Processors Association of Zambia which is a national organic movement operating in Zambia in the Southern African Region. OPPAZ was created in August 1999 by a group of farmers keen to promote and expand the opportunities of organic agriculture. OPPAZ is Zambia's leading organic association, ensuring quality and sustainability in the farms we accept as members. Zambia's naturally fertile soil allows for high quality produce, and enough yield to sustain export and a growing domestic market.

OPPAZ assists around 700 farmers to obtain international certification. The Integrating ICT for Quality Assurance and Marketing project helps to build an internal control system for the inspectors of Organic Producers and Processors Association of Zambia (OPPAZ). The project is supported by IICD since 2006. With the open source database the inspectors are able to collect the necessary data (plot data, crop type, crop produce) on a handheld computer. The system will be tested at three pilot sites (Chongwe, Mongu and Mpongwe). The data collected will also be published on the internet. This publication can be viewed by international partners who would like to buy the produce of the member farmers. The system has therefore a double function as internal control system and as marketing tool.

zondag 8 augustus 2010

Securing Financial Transaction Seminar organised by e-Brain

e-Brain Forum of Zambia organised on the 29th April 2010 a seminar on Securing Financial Transactions. This seminar was part of their cyclus of monthly ICT4D events that they organise in Zambia. e-Brain is the ICT4D network in Zambia support by IICD.

During the event 30 participants (10 women) were listening to the two speakers: Mr Julien Shabana, cyber security specialist who, gave an overview of what cyber dangers there are that more and more people become victum of it. Think of identiy theft, but also hacking into your e-mail account.

The second speaker was Mr Shamambo Saasa of the Bank of Zambia. He gave an overview of what measurements the bank is taken together with other banks to prevent this. The Q&A session afterwards was facilitated by Mr Lee Muzala, the chairperson of e-Brain.

vrijdag 6 augustus 2010

Interview about the preparations of eLearning Africa in Zambia

Prof Enala Mwase was the coordinator of the 5th e-Learning Africa conference in Lusaka Zambia. She tells about the short preparation time and the activities she did to prepare for this conference.

Donor Information system at Zambian Bloodbank

On the 4th of May I had a meeting with Agness Zimba, the data clerk of the Zambian National Blood Transfusion Services (ZNBTS) to talk about her experience with the Blood donor tracking system.

This project started in July 2008 and will develop and implement a computer based Blood Donor Tracking System. This system is developed for the staff of the Zambian Blood Transfusion Services (ZBTS) and will reduce the risks of incorrectly identifying donors and blood units. Repeat donors can effectively be tracked and a reliable pool of regular repeat blood donors is established. It ensures blood safety through accurate labelling and identification of blood units at every stage. The database will be developed with open source software (software without licence costs). More than 17,000 blood donators and patients in need of a blood transfusion benefit from the Blood Donor Tracking System.

In Zambia blood is collected differently than in the Netherlands. Most blood is collected during mobile field trips to for example schools or community gatherings. People need to be counselled before they provide blood in the field. They fill in forms and it is unclear if they have given blood in the past or not and if they have a higher risk profile. With this system the donor and his/her can now be traced from giving blood until the blood is received by another patient.

Agness demonstrates how it works after the forms have reached her, when she is doing the data entry of all information.

Radio Interview at Hone FM

During Queensday 2010 (30th of April) I had my first radio interview. e-Brain Forum of Zambia sponsored a ICT series on college radio Hone FM. I was invited to talk about the IICD Country Programme and our participation in eLearning Africa. Watching a video about a radio performance of 20 minutes is a bit boring, so it only part of the interview with the summary of what was said by David the DJ and me.

Interview at Hone FM

donderdag 29 juli 2010

Organic beekeeping in Kaoma

In Kaoma we would meet at the bank. Clearly there was only one bank in Kaoma, so it was easy to find. I met Jonathan Mugandi and Justin Lunda and together we had a meeting at the Maranatha Grassroot Institute (MGI), a local NGO that helps to implement the bee keeping programme. The Beekeeping project is funded by the EU thru HIVOS, OPPAZ and MGI. It supports 500 families in rural villages (closest 50 km from Kaoma, which is also not a really big rural town) with 2000 bee hives. They work with modern bee hives, which are better for the environment that the tradional one, that was build on cut trees. And in the modern beehives, you do have a more consistent, better quality honey as well and it makes harvesting easier, so that more women are involved in the project, than would be possible with tradional beekeeping.

The families would get 4 beehives, protective cloth, processing equipment and capacity building to make it happen. The beehives are not given to them. They have given a revolving loan and pay back after there first harvest. They pay back in 4 seasons, to create already income from the first harvest.

The beekeepers want to promote organic honey and get international certificates. In July they will start with the OPPAZ Internal Control System, that will shorten the certification process, because records will be electronically and not on paper. This makes exchange between internal and external inspectors easier and shorten the time required for certification.

The beekeepers already started with the forms, that will be used for electronical entry on a quarterly base. This gives them more work, but helps them with proper record keeping. They have one laptop and one desktop, with internet access thru ZAIN GPRS modem. They have trained themselves, but will receive more training thru OPPAZ later. They are looking forward to this.

woensdag 28 juli 2010

Zorga, Organic Rice farmers in Mongu District

On the 4th of May I started of to Zorga, the organic rice farmers in Mongu. They are a member of one of our partners the Organic Producers and Processors Association of Zambia (OPPAZ). I thought there office was in Mongu, but when I called again it was 15 km further in Sefula on the road to Senanga. After 6 calls where they explained me where to turn off based on my description of where I was, I managed to find them. I had a meeting with Chedrick, the chairperson; Nawa, the vice-chair; Munalula, the accountant and Yembe a committee member.

As organic rice farmers they have a major challenge: the market! The is not really a local market for organic rice. People are poor and what the cheapest food possible. Rice is not the staple food, that is Nshima (made from maize meal), so it is already a bit of luxury to spend money on rice. But the conventional rice is cheaper, because of subsidized fertilizer. So they can sell it locally, but for the same cheap price, while the organic rice gives a lower yield. There is a market for them in South Africa. But than you need to transport it in a container. To maximize the utilization of the container you need to transport 30 ton, but they only produce with all 74 members 8 ton. So they need more members to create a market, but without the access to this market no one want to start organic rice. Kind of a deadlock!

The other challenge is a lack of implements that would improve their yield in the field.

As an association they use computers for accounts, minutes of meetings and to write reports. There is no internet access, but the accountant is based in Mongu, and he can access internet and the Zorga e-mail account.

As organic farmers they need to be internationally recognized, therefore you need to be certified. This is still a completely manual process, but some of the members are trained in the use of the Oppaz Internal Control System the IICD supported. This ICS makes it easier to get internationally certified, because the information becomes digital available for both internal inspectors and external inspectors. This shortens the total time before a farmer is certified. But without the market this still does not improve the quality of live for the farmers, who are struggling. Oppaz want to help them further by building their market access capacity further, so that they are better able to access the right information and the right markets. This would provides them with better incomes and more benefits, which will attract more farmers to move from conventional rice farming with pesticides and fertilizer to organic, more natural farming.

dinsdag 13 juli 2010

maandag 31 mei 2010

Road trip Accra (Ghana) - Nkwanta - Tamale for IICD

On Friday 28th May I started a three day road trip from Accra via Nwanta to Tamale. Abukari, my driver for the journey had come all the way from Tamale on Thursday, because renting a car in Tamale is still cheaper than in Accra. Otherwise I would have to send the car back to Accra at the end, because I would stay in Tamale for the week and fly back to Accra on Friday the 4th June. Abukari came exactly in time so that we could leave Accra at 06:00 sharp. I wanted to test how the connectivity was under way, so my idea was to use twitter to test that by sending photos and short messages during the entire trip. It worked better than I expected. I did sometimes have to wait for 15 minutes to reach the next tower, but in general I could submit my tweets when I wanted them to submit. So I could tweet live about the trip in an easy way. The road thru the Volta region was better than I remembered, although the part after Nkwanta was for the first part bad, but afterward especially after Damanko, the road was fine. For Abukari it was also an interesting experience, because he had never been in that part of his country. I have made a compilation video of the photos I twittered to my followers combined with local music of Ohemaa Mercy that you can watch here

Impressions of Barefootguide 2 writers workshop in Egmond

A short video to give an impression of the very inspiring week in Egmond with the Barefootguide 2 writers collective in Egmond from 17th - 21th May 2010

maandag 29 maart 2010

The creation of a new Barefootguide writers collective

From 15th until 19th March I had a very inspiring writeshop in Kleinmond, South Africa. This was the start of a two 2 trajectory to create a new Barefootguide on organizational learning practices. With 10 participants from different countries it was a very divers group. There were 3 people from Holland: from PSO, Cordaid and IICD. 4 people from South Africa (3 from CDRA and 1 consultant), 1 person from Ghana (VSO), 1 from Belgium (but 15 year Zimbabwe, VVOB) and one New Zealander from The Red cross in Bangkok. The group had a 50% balance in gender as well. But most impressive were the experiences that everyone brought on the table working with southern NGOs and communities.

The environment of the workshop
We were located 2 hours from Capetown in the small town of Kleinmond. We stayed in a holiday home in small bungalows in a beautiful, inspiring landscape with mountains in front of us and the Atlantic Ocean behind us. What better place could you have to start a writing collective. The idea was not to write just another guidebook, but to bring in the vast experiences of the participating NGO’s to bring theory and practice together in combination with an action research next year in 20 Southern NGO’s to bring the guide as a tool for transforming organizations and Social change into practice.

To develop this we needed to know each other much better, but also to develop our own writing voice. One of the exercises we used for this is the technique of freewriting. In freewriting your pen, rather than your mind decides what to write; the hand leads and the mind follows. As simple as it sounds, it’s no easy exercise and takes real discipline to stick to this simple premise. We did several exercises with a start sentence and 4 minutes of writing. Afterward you had to underline the key sentences and share this with a small group to make a poem out of it. That sounds a bit weird, but actually the poems were quit powerful.

learning insights
Another method that we used was it always powerful storytelling. With the freewriting exercises we also had described two of our key learning moments. You could share the stories with one of the others, pick one and shared that story with the whole group. During the whole week we told these stories and distilled the general lessons out of these stories to use that to describe inside-out how we have gone through our own learning journeys. These general insights were stored on colored papers on the whole: a big collection of thoughts at the end of the week.

To look outside-in to organisational learning the core group of the writers collective (PSO, VSO and CDRA) had done a literature review on organisational learning, which we discussed to see what was most inspirational, fascinating but also to define areas for deeper research, missing parts and remaining questions.

The leading image
On day three we were on a quest for our vision. At 07.00 sharp we climbed in silence the mountain in front of were we stayed. At the top (a 30 minutes climb, through a beautiful landscape, one of the most diverse worldwide in terms of number of plans) we wrote our how we thought the Barefootguide would be used in the world in 5 years time as a free writing exercise. After a lovely walk down through a different path we brought all these stories together in small groups to design the leading image through a very creative drawing process. These three leading images were than shared and brought together into one picture with symbols, metaphors and key words.

The last day was the process that will lead to the development if the barefootguide. The next write workshop will be in May in Egmond (Netherlands). Before that time a needs assessment with some of the partners that will participate in the action research will take place (not at IICD partners) and a similar assessment about current learning practices should also be carried out under the organisations of the writers collective. In the next two weeks it will be more clear what that will mean for IICD. The action research for next year was also designed, but the key question for the next two year were the research areas which needed more deeper research. Also adding the voice of the south more. All of uMood paintingss will contribute more case studies like our thematic learning briefs, our Learn-Work trajectory and country learning reports. We concluded with a mood image of the whole week which was again an creative exercise to trigger your right brain. All in all a very inspirational, intensive and challenging workshop. Looking forward to continue this process in May.