Since the start of 2008 6 ICCO partners work together in an informal learning platform. All partners deal with food security but with different approaches and accents. Annually two workshops with a strong technical content are held. They are facilitated by Ben Haagsma of FSAS. Learning focuses on three technical themes: Agro forestry, water management and nutrition surveys, as well as on learning itself as a process by improving M&E practices. All 6 Organisations have reserved 5% of their budget for this platform.
This platform fulfils a crucial role in strengthening their relations. The fact that all directors are attending each workshop tells a lot about their appreciation of this platform. Over the total period of three years the participation has been fairly constant with only a few staff changes.
The last and 5e workshop in November 2010 was an internal self-evaluation of the platform right from the start up till now. Very deliberately a choice was made to focus rather on a limited number of topics in stead of dealing with many topics quick and superficially. The methods we used for this self evaluation were:
- A joint reconstruction of a historical timeline of the learning platform; this constituted a real eye-opener, very enlightening and illustrative;
- A comparison between the initial situation and the current one for each theme in order to assess the progress made; this assessment made a strong effort to turn generic and vague statements into more specific statements; and it attempted to better understand the differences in progress between the 6 different organisations;
- Use of the ‘5-why question format to improve the quality and depth of the analysis;
- Plenary use of laptop and beamer to analyze the MoU of this learning platform and directly suggest possible improvements in a manner visible for everybody. This increased the level of participation.
The three technical themes, mentioned above, were new for some organisations at the start of the platform. The question whether these themes, after this pilot period, were still relevant, led to a lively and extremely interesting discussion. Their simple answer referred to the complementarity between the different themes and all organisations stated that they wanted to continue working with all three themes, seen as necessary to achieve food security. However, a more focused answer revealed that actually organisations referred to a hierarchy of themes! Each organisation made it clear that it had an own clear specialization (its primary focus in one of the themes) and it considered the other themes as secondary to this main theme, supportive and reinforcing it. This did justice to their own vision & mission of the organisation.