Thursday, January 22, 2009

Session Report: Assessment methodologies and learning for policymaking by Nadia Manning-Thomas

Session: Assessment methodologies and learning for policymaking
Room: India Room
Time: 22 January 2009, 9:00 - 10:45

Today is Thursday 22nd January- and the third and final day of the Share Fair. For the first session of the day I am attending the session on ‘Assessment methodologies and learning for policymaking’ being convened in the India Room.

The session invovles the presentation of a group from FAO including Stephan Baas, Claudia Hiepe and Selvaraju Ramsamy. Their presentation is on Livelihood adaptation to climate change- a socio-institutional learning process: experiences from a project in Bangladesh.

The session will be run as a peer assist as the group would really like to get some feedback and ideas from those attending the session on their project and tools.
  1. to develop a methodology to bridge the gap between global circulation models and local farmers–needs to be translated into local realities
  2. how can we come to some very concrete actions-what can we do at this point while we still have uncertainty
  3. based on analysis-how can we inform policy makers to develop an enabling environment for local actions
First they introduce the context by showing a film looking at the effects of climate change in Bangladesh and some interventions that FAO has been undertaking there.

The project wanted to build on existing processes and make use of them for promoting learning and doing dissemination around climate change adaptation. One example of this was using existing Farmer Field schools and making them into Climate Field schools.

The next part of the session involved Claudia Hiepe showing the group a number of the various knowledge products that the project had produced for various stakehodlers. A list of things developed and available was handed out to the attendees. Products were designed for various groups to disseminate the information. Three main levels were showcased including:

1. Information collection, knowledge generation and sharing at farm/community level
• picture field guide
• theatre, drama songs
• field days
• demonstrations
• climate field schools

2. Knowledge generation with and for Field Practitioners/NGOs/national research
• written adaptation option menu
• training manuals
• guidelines and practices

3. Knowledge sharing at national/international level
• technical reports
• formal publications
• BBC radio broadcasts
• documentary films

Then Salvaraju showed us the online tool that has been developed as a training tool.
It was developed out of a need for a more interactive e-learning tool since it is not possible to reach all extension agents with face-to-face training programs or even published materials. The tool was developed also as a way of fitting into the technology transfer process that is being carried out by the extensionists.

The project found that when they tested out the tool with some extension agents the feedback they got was that the extension personell needed some exposure to working on computers as many of them don’t have much experience in working with computers.

Some issues and challenges experienced:
  • overload of materials developed, but still need to find good and effective ways to get information to the particular target groups
  • how to translate this learning that is being created at the local level to higher level policy making
  • how to institutionalise this issue. Working through extension but struggling with the question of how to do this more effectively and sustainably. Sometimes people go back to business as usual–and just go back to old ways of doing technology transfer and calling it adaptation to climate change—so how to keep them on track.
One of the big questions that came up in the discussion was really what are the best ways to share knowledge and make effective linkages with the policy makers. This is something that many projects have as an aim but do not know what approaches to follow. It is not easy!

Some suggestions, ideas and discussion threads included:
  • Need to develop personal relationships with some key players in the policy field
  • Need to build capacity even amongst policy makers and future policy makers
  • Need to be more clear about what policy change you want to bring about to be able to truly develop a strategy for dissemination and interaction
  • Need to consider policy demand and not just push our own supply to policy makers–we need to learn about what policy makers need and what opportunities exist
Original post on ICT-KM Blog.

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