Monday, 8 November 2010

Evaluation of ComPart kicks off

Even if the name ComPart - Communication with and amongst Partners - came in only at a later stage, at ICCO we have been busy with this project since 2007.

The main idea behind this project was that it would contribute to ICCO Alliance capacity building, learning networks, and knowledge in two main ways: first, by supporting the information, knowledge and communication capacities of partner organisations in the south; second, by supporting these same activities within the current alliance members.

During the implementation of the project ICCO was undergoing a profound organizational transition process. One of the major elements of this process is the decentralisation, which means that much of the daily work is being transferred to Southern based regional offices, with the transition of ICCO from a Dutch-based and located organisation to an international decentralised network organisation. This meant that new (internal and external) communication issues arose. Already in its early stage it was foreseen that ComPart could play a role in helping to address these communication issues.

The ComPart project has been designed and implemented with the strong support from Euforic, a cooperative of European Development organizations mainly supporting their members with relevant information and the use of information management tools. This cooperative closed down in the end of 2009 and fortunately part of the involved staff could continue the support to the ComPart project by way of the newly created consultancy firm Euforic Services.

During the 4 years of the projects, as documented here in this blog and in the ComPart timeline, numerous achievements have been reached, and different challenges emerged as well. More in general, a great deal of learning has been done as far as introducing and applying social media and collaborative tools in an changing organisational context is concerned. It seems now a good moment to look back at what has been done so far, reflect on the project sore assumptions and implementation patterns and learn from our achievements and, more important, form our mistakes. Therefore, since a couple of week, the ComPart project is undergoing its evaluation phase.

The purpose of this evaluation is twofold. In the first place to get an appreciation of the ComPart approach itself, the way it has been introduced and the results of the project until now. In the second place it is expected to get practical recommendations on how to further improve and implement the “ComPart way of working” within ICCO, the ICCO Alliance and among their partners. This implies that it is expected to get an overall validation of the project towards its objectives and based on this to get recommendations on how to better use and introduce internet based tools for an open, collaborative and learning culture within the decentralized organization/alliance and also possible (technical) improvements on the tool-set itself.

Nancy White and Marc Coenders are leading this evaluation, and we're glad we can count on their knowledge and expertise to help us learning and reflecting on ComPart.

The methodolgy follwed for the evaluation comprises the review of the documentation, plans and the ComPart tool-set; the preparation of a learning history for this project; a web survey; individual and collective interviews with champions and active users, new users, users who aren't very active, non users, the ComPart admin team and ICCO management; a 'findings validation' workshop with users, the admin team and others involved to share findings and gather feedback.

Most of the above is already happening these days and the evaluators are busy reviewing the documentation available, as well as interviewing people in ICCO Global Office in Utrecht and in the Regional Offices. The validation workshop will be held in Utrecht on 9 December 2010.

As usual, we'll use this blog to document on the progress of the evaluation and report on its finding and the validation workshop.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

ComPart FAQs and guides

In ComPart, we pay a lot of attention to the need of the users and make a constant effort to provide them with the adequate support material. Even though we believe that the different ComPart tools are rather easy to use - at a basic level - we recognize the value of support and self-learning material.

In the past months, we have focussed our attention on developing a series of FAQs that can provide quick reference and step by step guidance to the use of different applications.

Do you have questions related to the ComPart Network on PBworks? Or questions related to the use of specific tools? Do you want to know how these tools can support you daily activities?

The FAQs are updated as new questions emerged. Of course we welcome your comment and suggestion - please use the comment field here or at the bottom of the FAQs page if you want to suggest a new item not currently included in the list.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Rencontre SRDS Bamako Juillet 2010

Les 19, 20 et 21 juillet 2010, s'est tenu dans une salle de conference de l'hotel Massaley à Bamako, la rencontre des points focaux du programme SRDS/ICCO

INTRODUCTION
En Novembre 2009, ICCO s’est engagée avec ses partenaires du Bénin, du Burkina Faso, du Cameroun, du Mali et du Sénégal dans un processus de conception d’un programme sous-régional de Santé de la reproduction et droits sexuels des jeunes (SRDS) dans les cinq pays. La tenue à Bamako, du 19 au 21 Juillet 2010, de la rencontre des points focaux nationaux s’inscrit dans le cadre de la mise en œuvre de ce processus.Les points focaux nationaux du programme SRDS, les points focaux nationaux du programme Education de ICCO et d’autres partenaires pays engagés dans le processus ont participé à cette rencontre dont les objectifs étaient les suivants :
  • Partager les principales conclusions/recommandations des études de base sur la SRDS dans les pays
  • Identifier les axes potentiels d’intervention en matière de SRDS pour les programmes pays
  • Identifier les approches/stratégies à mettre en œuvre ainsi que les portes d’entrée/liens avec l’éducation
  • Développer les concepts de Santé de la Reproduction et Droits Sexuels des jeunes
  • Proposer un modèle pour l’élaboration des programmes pays
  • Proposer des axes de renforcement de capacités des partenaires en SRDS
  • Identifier les activités régionales à développer
  • Echanger sur le mécanisme de la coordination régionale et sur les rôles des points focaux
  • Partager les informations de base sur le wiki
Les travaux de l’atelier se sont déroulés sous forme de présentations orales suivies de discussions et de brainstorming par rapport aux points essentiels abordés avec un accent particulier sur le partage d’expériences en matière d’intégration des services destinés aux jeunes. Les questions sur l’approche programmatique et la cadre de partenariat multi acteurs ont été également largement discutées. Ces échanges ont permis d’aboutir aux principaux résultats suivants:
  • Les principales conclusions/recommandations des études de base ont été présentées par chaque pays ;
  • Des réflexions ont été entamées sur les axes potentiels d’intervention et les approches/stratégies de mise en œuvre ainsi que les portes d’entrée avec l’éducation pour les programmes pays ;
  • Les concepts de Santé de la Reproduction et Droits Sexuels des jeunes ont été définis et discutés avec les participants
  • Quelques axes d’intervention ont également été identifiés pour les actions à mener au niveau sous-régional;
  • Des pistes ont été dégagées pour la coordination régionale du projet ;
  • Les informations de base sur le wiki ont été partagées avec les participants et une page Wiki pour le programme SRDS a été créée.
Les participants ont ensuite été invités à approfondir un certain nombre de questions relatives aux axes d’intervention, aux modalités de mise en œuvre notamment par rapport aux groupes cibles spécifiques et à la participation de ces groupes, aux stratégies d’intervention appropriées, aux portes d’entrées potentielles avec l’éducation, aux axes de renforcement de capacités des partenaires et à la mobilisation de ressources additionnelles au niveau pays.Cette page Wiki réalisée au cours de cette rencontre des points focaux donne un bon aperçu des activités et des différentes productions de l’atelier des points focaux nationaux du programme SRDS.
video

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

PADEV - Participatory Assessment for Development

On 15 September 2010 ICCO hosted a public seminar titled 'Insight in Complexity - Possibilities for scaling –up a bottom-up evaluation approach'. The main purpose of the event was to present, review and discuss the findings of the research project on participative impact assessment from a beneficiary perspective, carried out since 2007 by Tamale University of Development Studies, Ghana and UvA, Amsterdam and supported by the ICCO Alliance.

After the welcome and introduction to the event by Jack van Ham (Chairman ICCO Board of Directors), Professor Ton Dietz from the University of Amsterdam who coordinated the research projects, presented the PADEV manual and its main findings. Roger Bymolt (master student International Development studies UvA) offered some critical remarks from a field perspective. Further, Agnieszka Kazimierczuk (former master student UvA) focussed on her findings in the use of the methodology with ‘the (very) poor’. Lastly, Robert Chambers (IDS) and Irene Guijt (Learning by Design) presented their critical comments on the research project and the PADEV methodology.

A lively plenary discussion moderated by Kees Biekart (ISS) followed this round of presentations and allowed participants to debate around issues related to the methodology proposed in PADEV; the results that emerged in the research and what their follow up will be; the issue of relevance of PADEV and who will benefit form it.

The PADEV manual, as well as a set of multimedia outputs from the seminar are available on the ICCO Policy and Development workspace.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Introducing new 'ComPart thematic surgeries'

In the ComPart project, we are constantly looking at new ways to improve the support and backstopping we offer to our users in the ICCO Global Office as well as in the Regional Offices and in partners' organisations.

A well known element of this support system are the weekly ComPart surgeries which we are now running for several months now. We started with the surgeries in late 2008; back then, we offered the possibility for ComPart users to come and meet us face to face, bringing along the link to their wiki, a coup of coffee and a friend, to work together and learn and improve the use of wikis and other ComPart tools to support their daily work processes. With the decentralization becoming a reality, we then changed this system from face to face to online surgeries using At&T: two times a week, at different time, we are online and provide remote and virtual support to users across the globe.

During the review meeting we had earlier in the summer, we decided to improve this support system and have a thematic webinar preceding the usual surgery session. Each week, we will address a specific topic related to the different tools and approaches we use in ComPart.

This new system will kick off as of next week. Given the fact that several new people - from the Alliance as well as from partners' organisations - are joining the ComPart Network these days, we think in the first weeks should focus on 'wiki 101', exploring and explaining the ins and outs of the PBworks, and how wikis have been used to support daily activities and business processes.

The calendar of these thematic surgeries for the rest of September and October is as follows:
  • 21 and 23 September 2010: The ComPart Network and the ComPart workspace - Structure and access
  • 28 and 30 September 2010: Editing wiki pages and managing folders
  • 5 and 7 October: Uploading, resizing and inserting images
  • 12 and 14 October: Embedding images, videos and presentations
  • 19 and 21 October: Working with table of contents, feeds and other plugins
  • 26 and 28 October: Searching pages, files and folders
These sessions will take place every Tueseday morning (9am - 10 am) and Thursday afternoon (5pm - 6pm). The overview of these sessions, as well as the details to join the webinar, are available on the ComPart Support page.

We hope you'll find this approach interesting and that you'll join in and participate. Any additional topic you would like suggest is also very much welcome!



Thursday, 29 July 2010

Preparing the ground for ComPart in the second half of 2010

In last week blog post, I announced the interim review meeting organised to "see how we are doing against the targets and objectives set at the beginning of the year for the ComPart project, and plan activities for the remaining months of 2010."

In less that 1.5 days, we had a very busy agenda to go through - discussing stats and tagging structure, wiki mapping and surgeries, activities in the regions and support to the global office, budget and deliverables...

A complete meeting report is on its way and it will be soon circulated and linked from here too. In the meantime, here a few highlights of what we discussed and agreed upon:
  • From 'open' to 'thematic' surgeries: We'll continue with the online 'surgeries' 2 times a week; however each week we'll have a theme or topic that we will address in the first part of the session - we'll use this blog, the ComPart calendar and ICCO intranet to announce the weekly themes.
  • Wiki mapping and tagging structure: We did quite some work already on both these aspects, but we need our findings and ideas to be validated, by colleagues in the Global Office as well as in the Regional Offices. For this, we'll organise a workshop in Utrecht, as well as online sessions with the different regions to move this further.
  • Calendars and maps: Responding to the requests of several users, we'll do some more work to introduce and integrate the use of GCalendars and GMaps across the different offices and teams.
  • Toolset and guides: We'll make sure that all ComPart tools and processes have an introductory page and relevant sections in the FAQs - all in the 4 working languages of ICCO.
  • External Review report: This will be commissoned to get an appreciation of the ComPart approach itself, the way it has been introduced and the results of the project until now. In the second place it is expected to get practical recommendations on how to further improve and implement the “ComPart way of working” within ICCO, the ICCO Alliance and among their partners.
Some other tasks and activities were listed to be completed by the end of the year, differenciating between what we 'must' do and what we 'would like to', if the time allows and other conditions independent from our will are met.

Overall, as we have busy months behind us, it seems we'll have an even busier time ahead - but we stay confident we can deliver on what we promise, and we can continue fostering the way ComPart is used and applied across the new ICCO, the partners and other Alliance members.

Monday, 19 July 2010

ComPart updates: Interim review and stats 2010 Q2

On Tuesday 20 and Wednesday 21 July 2010 Maarten, Pete, Danny and myself will meet at the ICCO Global Office in Utrecht for an interim review of the ComPart project, to see how we are doing against the targets and objectives set at the beginning of the year, and plan activities for the remaining months of 2010.

So far, 2010 has been a busy year for ComPart, and the sign of its coming of age are visible throughout the organisation.

The Lobby and Advocacy team uses a wiki as core element in their workflows, as well as videos to produce guidelines and manuals, and delicious to share and organise links. Other departments, like FED and Mission, are also developing a similar strategy. The Conflict Transformation and Democratization workspace has been heavily reorganized, providing users with informative news and documentation of ICCO work in the area. Wikis have been used to write the funding application proposals for two alliances ICCO is involved in, the ICCO Alliance and Connect4Change. We have been supporting users from outside these groups in our weekly surgery session, and supported, facilitated and covered and face to face events, also with social reporting.

A major milestone for the project has been represented by the Enablers workshop held in Soesterberg last May. For the first time, we brought together representatives from 6 of the 8 regional offices, and the network of enablers that are supporting ComPart in the different regions. New friendships, connections and plans have been made during the workshop, with the result that ComPart is now much more known and understood across the whole decentralized organisation. And it is taking off in the Regional Offices, with trainings, introductory sessions and implementation in Delhi, Bali and Kampala.


The statistics from the first two quarters of 2010 confirm this positive trends and clearly show how wikis are now at the core of several business processes of the organisation. We have already reached almost the same number of pageviews as for the whole 2008, and we hope to reach the 100,000 by the end of the year.

We are doing less good on blogs and blips, but this might be related to the fact that - shame on us! - we haven't been doing much of this lately. More important, we haven't been able to identify yet other ICCO staff that could champion the use of blogs in the organisation.

Presentations, instead, are still very popular: some 20 new ones have been uploaded onto SlideShare, but because of the fact that most of them are kept private (i.e. only for ICCO staff and not for the wider public), the number of views has declined compared to last year, but it is still strong against 2008.

However, in spite of these numbers, and the growing interest and usage of ComPart, much is still to be done; in the review meeting we will discuss and focus on upcoming activities, improvements and pending issues to finalize and resolve, as well as carry on with some more strategic thinking for the next year, and what the project might look like further down the line when the decentralisation process will be completed.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Closing the ComPart Enablers Workshop 2010

The ComPart Enablers workshop 2010 has come to an end last Friday and everybody is heading home again. The day before all finished the assignments, after which we went to the ICCO offices and had the opportunity to visit the city of Utrecht. We had a lovely dinner in a restaurant on the ‘Old Canal’ in the centre.

The last day was mainly used for the planning of the follow up. For every region the representative of the ICCO office and the enabler(s) for that region worked together. This resulted in a set of very concrete and realistic plans for the activities to undertake during the coming year aiming at the integration of the ComPart way of working in the daily work of all ICCO staff world wide.

The great thing is that all participants now have gained the skills to be able to support and together with the enablers train their colleagues. All have got the ‘ComPart Driving license’ with at least the basic level for working with: wikis, blogs, delicious and feeds.

As told earlier, the participant who would produce the most complete and technically well made multi media trip report on the blog and wiki would be awarded. The quality of the end products really surprised us. We were amazed by the technical quality but surely also by the content itself. It was a pleasure reading, seeing and listening to them. This made it a very difficult job for the jury to choose the winners. Only looking at (minor) details, distinctions could be made. And by doing so the prize for the best blog and wiki in the category ICCO regional staff went to Jennifer Kironde (Kampala - Uganda), and with Diego Reinoso of Rimisp (Santiago Chile) we had a deserved winner in the category "Best blog and wiki – Enablers”. Congratulations for both!
Now looking back at the four days it is clear all participants are trained, good follow up plans have been made and we do all feel part of the ‘ComPart enablers team’ which means all objectives are reached.

Personally it was really a joy to participate, meeting (again) with the participants and getting to know new colleagues. I was impressed by the commitment and hard working and the fast way all captured the idea of the ComPart way of working. Perhaps as an afterthought (also expressed by one of the participants) the competitive element could have been used also in another way. Although the working ‘together alone’ (each working for themselves on their product during free hours until late in the evenings) also helped to build the team, it might have been good to include a collaborative element in the assignment, as collaboration is a key word in the ComPart way of working. This might be something to take into account for the future.

Anyhow I can say that my expectations where more than fulfilled largely thanks to the great group of participants whom I want to thank again for their commitment and all the nice and inspiring contributions. And of course this all could not have been achieved without the much appreciated support, facilitation and contributions of the Euforic Services team (Pier Andrea Pirani, Pete Cranston and Danny Aerts). Many thanks to you!

Maarten Boers

PS: Unfortunately two of the offices were not represented because of visa and flight problems; but somehow we will make sure these offices (and enabler) will catch up and join the team.

See more posts about the ComPart Enablers workshop 2010

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Reflections

by Nicolle Beeby, SANGONet

Okay, another gathering – workshop! This time on another continent! So what? And then aptly named – ComPart too – Communication among Partners. If communication is your game – why was I trekked halfway across the world to have a face-to-face discussion? “Catch you online” is my favourite saying as part from friends or acquaintances I usually chat to on one of my many chat applications – which are all integrated into Pidgin … Don’t want my gtalk, msn, yahoo messenger and skype all popping up as soon as I log on… Yes! I’m just that famous! J

Sooo… let this journey begin properly. A few months ago, SANGONeT was contacted by Pete Cranston attend the Compart Enablers Workshop in Soesterberg, Netherlands from 18 – 21 May. Yours truly was requested to attend this auspicious occasion. Now, you may be reading this and thinking – WOW! but this young lady is ungrateful… However, I’m working toward to something … just go with the flow ;-)

Rewind to four weeks ago and I need to get a VISA. Now, if I knew that, that process would be so horrific, I would’ve had myself cloned just to take the hour long drive to Pretoria to queue at the Dutch Embassy on my behalf… needless to say, the only appointment I could get was for 12 May – with a 48 hour wait … and wait for it! Wait for it!! The Embassy was closed on 13 and 14 May for Dutch public holidays. Well, I’m not entirely blaming them – they did after all accommodate me by guaranteeing my visa to be ready on the 17th of May – the day I had to be in Netherlands already. Good enough I suppose… I did eventually get here! My tale of woes does not end there however, upon arrival at the O R Tambo airport in Johannesburg – it turned out that I was SIX hours too early! Due to volcanic ash over Europe - my flight was delayed by three hours… hmmm… now who to blame for that one?

Anyway… the food and hospitality on the plane was lovely, the flight itself was pleasant and found walking through customs to be a breeze! Imagine that! From frowning faces at the South African Dutch Embassy to delightful smiles upon arrival at Schipol in Amsterdam. Now now, don’t mistake my sudden outburst of sweetness, my woes have not ended! YET!

Soooo… Nicolle makes her grand entrance at the Kontakt der Kontinenten in Soesterberg, just outside Utrecht! And welcomed by an awesome bunch of warm smiles, leaving me feeling like Miss Universe had just entered the building (Where’s my crown people?)… is it in the water? Why is everyone in the Netherlands so happy? I mean, there’s a dark cloud hanging over you, for heaven’s sake – where is the doom and gloom? Or is it just me?

Well… turns out – it was just me! GERMS!! They spoil everything…

BUT! All was not lost… this was just day one… And Thanks to Michelle’s contagious laughter at the dinner table, Oudou and Hempal clicking away at their camera’s (I did say I felt like Miss Universe, right? Well, if there’s no crown – 50 Euros will also do J *hint hint nudge nudge*), to interesting conversations with Danny and of course, Diego being a great sport by allowing me to use our ZOOOOOOOOM video over here… Let’s just put it this way, the ice princess was starting to melt. And rapidly too… while very low on energy and growing weaker and weaker… Pete, my knight in shining armour comes to my rescue with meds – and again the sun that never sets in Netherlands starts to shine even brighter for Nicolle. Special thank you to the amazing group of participants… meeting and working with you all has certainly been a pleasure … Hope to stay in touch… in fact – in classic social media style… Click here and become my friend on facebook!

I guess at some point I have to mention something about the workshop, right? Well click here and get the low down on the past two days on the ComPart Wiki!

video

It's working

The silence in the hall (except the blips on test) during the ComPart 2010 enablers workshop, was a visible sign of ComPart way of going together. People on the same desk were just chatting on the ComPart networks chat, so that the silence is not disturbed.

I was following the policy of wait and see for the assignments. Thus, this allowed me to have a great time reading and viewing of everyone's story, blips and blogs, but left me with hardly few hours to do the tech update stuffs for myself.

So, I thought to follow the ComPart and crowd sourcing approach of working, which works :D. So, here I want to put forward my appreciation for all the enablers for developing such a wonderful knowledge bank.

You can visit my wiki page for all other development in the ComPart enablers workshop 2010 here.

by Hempal Shrestha

Finally ... Soesterberg

by Arnel Moya Astillero

“Siempre que te pregunto que cuando, como y donde. Tu siempre me responde. Quizas, quizas, quizas !”

The paragraph above quoted from a song describes the mood and the actual situation while I was preparing for the ComPart workshop. It also resonates with my general attitude in life. Being a Christian, I live on faith and trust in a Heavenly Father who is in control of my life. So I said to myself, given the difficulty in coming to the workshop, perhaps He has other plans for me. However, I believed that God willing, I will be able to attend.

The journey actually started with a forwarded email from a colleague (he is actually my boss but given the highly democratic culture at ICCO, we call each other colleagues) in the ICCO Regional Office Southeast Asia & Pacific while I was touring the countryside in the Philippines. I was with my Dutch counterpart visiting partners to formally introduce me as the new Program Officer. The email was from Machteld Ooijens inviting the RO managers to nominate a staff to attend the ComPart Enablers Workshop. The regional office is quite new so we haven’t gotten to the point of discussing “other tasks that may be assigned”. Why the email landed in my InBox (there are actually 10 people equally qualified to attend) is another story. And so it came to pass that I have to prepare for a trip to Holland while I was working on the project transfer and relocating my family to Bali. It doesn’t matter, I wanted to attend! A workshop on an internet-based knowledge-sharing platform using the popular internet tools otherwise used for gossip and exhibitionism and voyeurism seems fun!

The journey, however, was long and full of challenges. One of Murphy’s Laws which says “If anything can go wrong, it will!” was very much evident in this trip!

The first leg is Manila to Bali. This trip however did not happen as scheduled. We were supposed to fly March 31 but our actual flight happened on April 14. The first challenge was the Indonesian visa. It took sometime before me and my family got a visa from Indonesian immigration. The staff working on the visa is not allowed to pay the usual facilitation fees hence she has to go through the slow, patience-draining process! The second challenge was the Dutch visa. The main document needed was the formal invite from ComPart. It was written March 23 but somehow got lost in transit so I received it April 10. It takes the Dutch embassy in Manila 10 days to schedule a visa interview and another two weeks to process the application so working on the visa in Manila was out of the question. We leave in four days for Bali!

And so I flew to Bali with my family. The airline companies have perfected the science of squeezing the most Euro from their passengers. They are following a Calculus theorem which says that “the shortest distance between two points is a curve.” So the flight went from Manila to Singapore and Jakarta before finally going to Denpasar (see the map). We can actually derive the equation of the curve using methods in Calculus. Why do I keep remembering lessons in Calculus that were given ages ago? Maybe the ComPart discussions triggered or reconnected some broken neural connections in my brain!

Anyway, it took us about 15 hours to complete the trip. We even had to cross a time zone even if Manila and Bali is in the same time zone. However, travelling for me is always fun – a chance to meet people and see interesting things. I focus on the trip and not on the destination and this trip is a bonding opportunity for the family.

Upon arriving in Bali, the first order of the day is to resettle the family and catch up with work at the office. A couple of days passed before I had a chance to go to the Dutch consulate and apply for a visa. In a very nice way, the visa officer told me that it would take them a month to process the visa. But I only have three weeks before the workshop! Then you have to go to the Dutch embassy in Jakarta! They can do it in two weeks! So I sent all documents to a representative in Jakarta. It is a business related trip so the office can work on the visa. Or so I thought! I am working with a Dutch NGO funded by the Dutch government so the visa officer needs to see me in person! Life is good, another reason to travel. And so I got the chance to soak in the culture, taste the food and breathe the fumes of Jakarta.

The visa officer asked me three questions: when is my trip, what is the purpose of my visit to Holland and why am I applying very late! These are questions of national security! Then she said she needs to consult her boss. Maybe my responses to the questions were sensitive in nature! A Dutch guy took a peek, sized me up and maybe thought “ICCO is indeed downsizing, from 6’4” to 5’4”. I am no threat!

Anyway, the visa officer finally told me that they will give me only a BeNeLux visa and it would take three days to process. I’ve had enough of Jakarta in one day so I gave an authorization for somebody to claim my passport and courier it to me in Bali. The interview was scheduled on a Friday, so the work on the visa only started the Monday of the following week. The release date was a Wednesday but my representative had medical emergency so he failed to go to the embassy. Thursday happened to be a holiday (Ascension Day – the day when Christ, after his resurrection, finally ascended to heaven) so Friday is the last chance to get my passport in time for my May 16, Sunday flight! I left the office that day still uncertain if I’ll be able to go!

Meanwhile colleagues in the Global office who were arranging for the plane tickets were also facing their own challenges. Because of the uncertainty of the visa, they did not buy the tickets yet and seats for the flights were fast disappearing. I finally got my passport evening of Saturday, May 15 and a ticket departing in the evening of Monday, May 17. The delays were actually a blessing in disguise because had I left on the original date of departure, I might have been stuck of a day in another airport since Schiphol was closed on the date of my arrival due to the ash clouds from the volcanic eruption in Iceland.

And so finally, I’m here is Soesterberg!

It was a tiring journey but being met by Maxime at the airport and being welcomed at the workshop venue by a roomful of smiling and friendly faces of beautiful/handsome and seemingly interesting people somehow gave me a boost of energy. I am optimistic, that the trip would be worth it!

And now the headache starts. It takes my body a couple of days to notice that it has crossed several time zones… but this is another blog story!



Wednesday, 19 May 2010

The expectations

By Diego Reinoso, Rimisp - Centro Latinoamericano para el Desarrollo Rural

¿Qué esperaba antes de venir?

Al salir de Santiago de Chile esperaba poder aprender y compartir con un grupo de personas sobre cómo las herramientas Web se pueden convertir en una excelente herramienta de trabajo.

Antes de ver si se cumplirían mis expectativas, recorrí Amsterdam por dos días. Imperdible: Museos, canales, coffeeshop, barrio rojo...

El lunes llegué a Amersfoort junto a otros participantes del ComPart Enablers' Workshop.

Mi otra gran expectativa era conocer a personas de distintas partes del mundo. La expectativa fue sobrepasada por los hechos y puedo decir que he conocido a personas de Mali, Burkina Faso, Kirguistán, Uganda, Nepal, etc.

Han pasado dos días y mis expectativas han sido satisfechas. Ha sido una interesante experiencia para reforzar mi conocimiento sobre algunas herramientas y redescubrir otras que no conocía. Me es especialmente útil para mi trabajo en la actualización del Blog Red Prensa Rural y el sitio Web del programa Dinámicas Territoriales Rurales de Rimisp.

Aún quedan dos días y creo que surgirán nuevas expectativas que seguro serán satisfechas en el Workshop.

[An English translation attempt..]

What I expected before coming?


Leaving Santiago de Chile hoped to learn and share with a group of people about how Web tools can become an excellent tool.

Before seeing if it would meet my expectations, I walked around Amsterdam for two days. You can not miss: Museums, channels, coffeeshops, red-light district...

On Monday I arrived to Amersfoort with other participants of ComPart Enablers Workshop.

My other big expectation was meet people from around the world. The expectation was surpassed by the facts and I can say I've met people from Mali, Burkina Faso, Kyrgyzstan, Uganda, Nepal, etc.

It has been two days and my expectations have been met. It was an interesting experience to enhance my knowledge and rediscover some other tools did not know. It is especially useful for my work on the update of the Blog Red Prensa Rural and the website of the Rural Territorial Dynamics program of Rimisp.

There are still two days and I think that surely will create new expectations will be met at the Workshop.

Extra! Extra! Extra!
You want to see the best zoom of the history and listen to a Chilean speak a bad English, press play:

From blip to blog*

We just started our second day at the Soesterberg 2010 Compart enablers conference (not entirely sure in what order I should use these words) with a reflective walk in the woods surrounding the conference venue. While the people from Europe were enjoying the nice weather, our colleagues from the regional ICCO offices and the enablers had a somewhat different experience. Some of them actually come from 45+ degrees Celsius!

As part of the workshop, all participants will create a blog and a wiki that they will use to shed their light on the workshop. The assignment includes the embedding of multiple media formats into the blog and wiki. Camera's have been flashing and recording all day long and as a result, a lot of information and media has already been produced and uploaded. If you'd like to follow what is happening here in Soesterberg, you have several options, as usual:

  1. For images, please visit this set on the Flickr account of compartuser.
  2. If you prefer moving images, you can check compartuser on blip.tv.
  3. The Compart support wiki has more information about the workshop, with, among others, background information on regional contexts and the raw notes of the different sessions.
  4. And for those who really want to stay up to date with everything as it happens here in Soesterberg, some of us are tweeting with the hashtag #comparten
  5. And finally, we will keep you updated on this blog.

Let us know in the comments if you have questions about the process or if you want
to hear more from the participants or the different regions. We'll study them in detail!


by Danny Aerts

* Nice reference (credits to P. Cranston) to the embedding of videos into blog posts, that has nothing to do with this article.

Communication, pleasure and connection

Lessons I've learned in ICCO Enablers Workshop
by Michelle Prazeres

I'm Michelle Prazeres. I'm a journalist and I work for Acao Educativa, a brasilian organisation that fight for education, youth and culture rights.

I came here with at least three wishes/expectations: communication, connection and pleasure.
Each day, I've learned one (or more) lesson (lessons).

A lesson (that I already knew, but it was very important to find people who think just like me!)
Communication is a process and not a set of products.
Technology is not a set of tools, but use what you do to them and the role we assign to them politically and socially.

Lesson 2: I learned to use Delicious.
I created an account for me and I will definitely continue to use in my daily work.

Lesson 3: The countries whose representatives are presented at the workshop have very similar realities in relation to access the Internet and technologies.
In fact, Brazil is one of the most advanced countries in relation to this, although it is a reality beyond desirable and ideal for the work of organisations.

Lesson 4: Using the tools of Compart it comes to curiosity, pleasure and fun and willing to learn without fear of making mistakes. Check on ten fears and miths about technologies.

Lesson 5: Two major issues in relation to such tools are: how to maintain the enthusiasm that is created in a workshop like this at work everyday, and how to reconcile the traditional work with this new way of working, and that Compart?

Lesson 6: I've learned how to use feeds, and created an account in iGoogle to receive feeds sites that interest me.

I guess my expectations were accomplished and - more than that - they were exceeded!
I discovered that Compart is all about communicating, having fun and connecting!

It's been such a fantastic moment.
I've shared my view of it in a video that I made with all the participants of the workshop.
Take a look at it!


PORTUGUESE VERSION

Eu cheguei aqui com tres desejos: comunicacao, prazer e conexao.
A cada dia, eu aprendi uma (ou mais) licao (licoes).

Licao 1 (esta eu ja sabia, mas foi muito importante encontrar pessoas que pensam como eu!):
Comunicacao e um processo e nao um conjunto de produtos.
Tecnologia nao e um conjunto de ferramentas, mas o uso que voce faz delas e o papel que conferimos a elas politicamente e socialmente.

Licao 2: aprendi a usar o Delicious.
Criei uma conta para mim, e com certeza vou continuar usando no meu trabalho cotidiano.

Licao 3: Os paises cujos representantes estao presentes no workshop tem realidades muito similares em relacao ao acesso as tecenologias e a internet.
Na verdade, o Brasil e um dos paises mais avancados em relacao a isso, ainda que seja uma realidade aquem da desejavel e da ideal para o trabalho das orgaziacoes.

Licao 4: O uso das ferramentas do Compart se trata de curiosidade, prazer e diversao e vontade de aprender sem medo de errar.

Licao 5: Duas grandes questoes em relacao a estas ferramentas sao: como manter o entusiasmo que se cria em um workshop como este no trabalho cotidiano; e como conciliar o trabalho tradicional com esta nova forma de trabalhar, que e o Compart?

Licao 6: aprendi a usar feeds, e criei uma conta no Igoogle para receber feeeds de sites que me interessam.

Regional Context for Central & Eastern Africa

Janet Achola and Jennifer Kironde from the Central & Eastern Africa Region attend the ComPart Enablers Workshop in Soesterberg.

Each region was to talk about their context so that others would understand the conditions we are or will be working in especially elements that favor or complicate the use of compart or ICT.

Our presentation was summarised in a poster (see image on the right) and the following outline:

The Geographical Region of Central and Eastern Africa: The Region covers 8 countries of Burundi, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda with the RO in Kampala and 2 suboffices in Juba and Congo. According to the concept of trilocation, these 3 offices together form one regional organization even though they are geographically separated.

ICT/Gender Policy:
In E.A, all the 3 countries have a draft ICT policies, ministry if ICTs, ICT Parliamentary committees.
Attitude towards learning or exchanging information:
Poor culture in information exchange exists and the use of compart should play an important role in solving this problem.

Connectivity:
The existing state of telecommunication in the country leaves much to be desired as a gate way to internet. On the whole, internet diffusion is severely constrained by low levels of telephone penetration, the high cost of telecommunication connection, lack of telephone service to homes and businesses , frequent and long power interruptions among others. On average cost of internet connectivity in Uganda ranges between USD 100-1600 and monthly subscription can go as high as USD 2400 a month depending on the bandwidth and service provider.

Availability and usage of internet: Internet statistics
The Regional Office has 48 staff out of whom 36 accesss and use computers/internet, the other 12 staff who don't have computers don't actually need it for their work and atleast all the staff have the basic knowledge on how to use internet. This is different for our partners in the remote areas who are affected by a number of factors ranging from high costs, slow and unreliable connections, lack of power and frequent power interruptions among others. The penetration rate of internet in Uganda per say is very low for example in the year 2000, there were only 40,000 users out of a population of 24.4m people and by the year 2009, only 2.5m users were registered visa vis a population of 32.3 million acording to the International Telecommunications Union publications 2010.

Related Gender Issues:
Government has intervened by promoting internet at Multipurpose Community Telecentres (MCTs). MCTs represent shared internet public access facilities aimed at providing access to advanced information and communication services in rural and remote areas as well as deprived or underserved urban areas which also takes into account the women in development.

Government is also in the process of rolling out 1 computer per child in UPE schools with an American company. This has advantages because it favors those who can't afford including women.

For more information look out for background information on regional contexts under May 2010 Soesterberg NL

By Jennifer Kironde

ComPart training: Learnings by IAM

These are what I learned within 1.5 day:
1. Converting video files into wmv files, editing in Windows Movie Maker and the result is here: video

2. Blogging, which means to publish the text, videos, pictures in ComPart network.

This is really fun!!!

by Iskenderbek Amanbaev

ICCO - South America


La oficina de ICCO Sud America se habrio hace dos semanas, para siete paises de Sud America.


Nos estamos introduciendo recientemente en el manejo de las herramientas tecnologicas que ICCO utiliza para realizar su trabajo y es ese el motivo por el cual estoy participando de este taller, que ademas de contextualizarnos, nos permite compartir una linda experiencia en equipo.

video

by Ivett Rodriguez

ComPart Workshop in Soesterberg 2010

Hi all!

I am Andi K. Yuwono from Praxis Association, Jakarta - Indonesia. I am the national coordinator for Collective Learning Forum - People Initiative. The forum is directed not towards specific issue nor sector but towards the effort to develop the interaction intensity among actors of change. Through consolidation among agents of change the vision to achieve democratization, justice, peace, and or the promotion and protection of human rights whether in civil, political, economy, social and cultural aspects can be expected to be accomplished.

This is my second day at KdK in Soesterberg. We are still learning about the "power" of ComPart. It is held by ICCO, and facilitating by Pete, Pier, Danny and Maarten.

Well, ComPart (Communication with and among Partners) is an initiative of the ICCO Alliance. By enabling more effective knowledge sharing and exchange, it aims to support ongoing strategic changes in the Alliance members – and the way in which they and their staff collaborate with partners worldwide. It also offers a set of tools and processes that individuals and teams may use to optimize the effectiveness of their work.

It is good to be here, even it is too cold for me. Thanks to everyone.

For further info please visit my full Trip Report.

By Andi K. Yuwono

ComPart Enablers Workshop-Day1

Namaste!

I am Mousumi Sarangi from ICCO-South Asia office,working on issues of health & education programmes in India & Nepal.

It was a great start to the workshop in Soesterberg-beautiful locale,interactive methodology,wonderful trainers. Crawling already by the end of day 1 training ComPart is getting demystified! Hippie!

Managed to blog, put on a link & a picture…..completed the first assignment.:)

Looking forward to toddle & wobble on day 2 on the learning trajectory road& finally be able to walk (with support) by day 4 or joyfully riding out………………

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

ComPart South 2010 Workshop - Day 1

Soestenberg, 18 May 2010. It's past 10 in the evening, and the room is still full. Christophe Hien and Oudou Bengaly, two of the 'ancient' enablers of the ComPart support team, just finished facilitating the last session of the day, explaining the group how to 'work with blips'. And everybody is now busy editing their videos and uploading them on the web.

This was the last session of a busy and exciting day, with 20 people from 15 countries discussing and being trained on the ‘ComPart Way of Working’, and seeing how this can be applied in their regional context.

We started this morning, with a simple tagging exercise that brought us closer together and helped identify which connections are in the room and where our common interests are. We also shared and captured the group's expectations, ranging from 'learning the tools' to 'understanding why ComPart', from 'sharing experiences on ICTs culture in different countries' to 'creating connections for future collaboration, building trust and finding common ground for collaboration'.

The energy level in the room was high, and the group was very excited and keen to learn. Maarten Boers answered some of the questions and expectations that participants had, giving a 'background and foreground' presentation of what ComPart is, what it has been done so far, and what next. In this sense, the what next is really a key element, and an issue that underpinned the all workshop: as ICCO is decentralising, what can be the added value of ComPart for the new ICCO and its partners in the South as well as in the North?

In this regards, it was great to start discussing the different regional regional contexts ICCO is working in. Today, we looked at West Africa, Latin America, Central Asia and Southern Africa and gave specific attention at how the ICT environment looks in each of these regions; and how ComPart is already being used by ICCO staff and partners, and what potentials it can have to support daily activities and work processes.

The second part of the afternoon was devoted to hands on training, as one of the objective of the workshop is to bring the all group to a good level of technical knowledge of blogs, wikis, social bookmarking, feeds and videos. More technical sessions are planned throughout the all week; at the end of the workshop we will award a prize for the participant that, using different ComPart tools, will produced the most complete multimedia trip report form this event.

Overall, it was a very positive day. I think it's clear that the people are eager to learn how ICTs in general, and ComPart in particular, can support their daily work, and enable information, collaboration and knowledge sharing. However, as emerged in the regional context session, several challenges need to be taken into account: access; people and their consolidated working habits; culture and attitude towards ICTs and sharing; languages. We will make the best how of the coming days of the workshop to see about the challenges that we are identifying, and how we can tailor ComPart to these different regional contexts.

See more stories from the ComPart South 2010 workshop.

Compart (enablers) Training K d K May 2010

This is the first day of the enabler compart training

This is the first exercise and will serve as a report and training tool for feedback to the WARO of ICCO .



video

Saturday, 15 May 2010

ComPart South 2010 workshop

After having met in Lisbon in 2008 and in Woudschoten (Utrecht) in 2009, this year 'ComPart South' workshop is taking place again in the Netherlands, in Soesterberg from 18 to 21 May 2010.

In these past 2 years, besides the different activities undertaken with ICCO staff in Utrecht, we started building a network of 'enabler' organisations and individuals that could support and extend ComPart to Southern partners of the ICCO Alliance. These experiences have been documented extensively on this blog.

This year, we'll take one step further these efforts and the learning we did along the process: together with 'old' and 'new' enablers we'll be working also with ICCO representatives from the regional offices, to develop concrete plans of action for the ComPart support for each of the 8 regions where ICCO has opened its regional offices. In this sense, we'll be introducing the ‘ComPart Way of Working’ and discuss it with the participants, seeing how this can be applied in their regional context. Further, we'll also to train ourselves in the use of the main ComPart tools, so that we all have a strong knowledge of the different applications available, and know exactly when and how to use them.

As usual, we'll be 'walking the talk' and we'll be using social media to capture the main elements of the workshop and engage other interested parties in the conversation. On this blog, you'll find a daily post summarizing the day in words as well as with video and pictures. ICCO staff can also take a closer look at the daily notes and participate remotely on the ComPart Support Wiki.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

ComPart wiki structuring workshop

As testified by the Q1 report on stats and traffic, the usage of the ComPart wikis has increased quite substantially in the first three month of 2010. The decision to use wikis in the process of writing the ICCO Alliance business and strategic plan contributed significantly to these positive results.

However, this is only part of the story. Over the past months, several teams and departments have been introducing wikis to support their daily activities, adapting their practices and moving part of their work-flow onto workspaces created on the new ComPart network platform.

As clearly emerged also in the ComPart lunch time meeting in February, two main issues need to be addressed at this stage:
  1. How best to structure the different workspaces so that their navigation and usability can be improved?
  2. How best to structure the 'ComPart wiki garden' in its all complexity, improving the linkages between the different workspaces?
To answer these questions, on April 20, 2010, we organised a wiki structuring workshop with some 15 ICCO staff from the Global Office in Utrecht.

Walk in the shoes of your readers
In the first part, ICCO colleagues were divided in small groups, and were tasked to look at one specific wiki of their choice through the eyes of the end users.

Beforehand, we had developed different personas and shared them with participants. Each persona exemplifies a potential ICCO staff in the Global and Regional offices, their task, their working habits, their personalities, and their needs in terms of information that they would like to find on a specific wiki.

We asked each group to choose one persona and review a wiki through the eyes of this character. Will he/she be able to find the information he/she's looking for, in an easy way, avoiding the feeling of overload and the subsequent "death by wiki"?

In a nutshell, the groups come up with the following recommendations:
  • Wikis start from content, and not from people: it would be good to improve the use the social networking functionalities already embedded in the PBworks platform and focus more on the community aspect behind a workspace;
  • It is sometimes difficult to get a clear overview of what a wiki is about: 'you get a lot of documents and information, some of which is outdated'. This calls for more 'gardening', better document management and a clearer file storing system;
  • There is a need to develop better introductory pages that explain in a nutshell what each wiki is about. At the moment we often have lengthy information pages;
  • The same goes for sub-level pages: Each page should have a quick intro text, a table of contents, and a clear message about what readers can find.
Do you use scents or the paths to find your way round a garden?
The second part of the workshop instead focussed on the whole 'ComPart garden', to see how this could be better organised.

At the moment, out of the 100 created wikis, some 70 are in use (at different levels). Are we on the right track? Which workspaces are we still missing? Which other should be merged? Which to be archived or deleted? And how can we improve the linkages between the different workspaces?

Working in groups, participants were given series of cards with the names of the workspaces, divided by colours for the different themes/issues covered, and departments they fit under. Starting from this, we asked ICCO staff to review what we have, and come up with suggestions on structuring the whole.

As a result, different perspectives emerged:
  • For some, the structure of the garden has to be as flexible as possible, using tags and combinations of tags to make sure the wikis (and their pages) can easily be findable from users coming in from different perspectives, and with different needs.
  • Others suggested a model based more on a 'corporate perspective' derived from ICCO Alliance strategic plan, clustering wikis by activities of the global and regional offices, strategies and thematic programmes. A top level wiki on ICCO values and identity could be developed.
  • A third group proposed to structure the garden around programmes, strategies, and department of the global office that provide 'services and support' to the regional offices.
The ComPart team really appreciated the valuable suggestions and the conclusions that emerged from the workshop, and will take these recommendation forward in the support we are providing to ICCO staff, and in the ComPart enablers works planned for 18-21 May 2010.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

India Conference on Fair Economic Development and Entitlements going ComPart wise

The National-level India Conference on Fair Economic Development and Entitlements, organized by ICCO -South Asia is going to be plugged to ComPart wise, from Surajkund in India. The ComPart approach will be supporting the conference in wide range in-depth consultation with the partner organizations and generate an agreed and common agenda.

The conference will span over three days. Approximately forty five reputed partner organizations (who work directly with tribal communities, women, dalits and minorities in poverty-stricken areas of India) from India, along with specialists from ICCO Global Office will be participating in the conference. This will be yet another important opportunity to share and develop a strong ComPart enabled community in the region.

For more updates and further information, kindly visit the Conference page on the ICCO SA workspace.

Hempal Shrestha, India

Thursday, 25 March 2010

South-South Exchange Workshop on Knowledge Management

The Chorlaví Group / Rimisp is organizing a workshop in Nairobi Kenya about exchanging Knowledge Management experiences within learning networks which takes place these days (25 and 26 of March) in Nairobi. The workshop is aimed at:
  • Socializing the experience of the Grupo Chorlavi (GC) in Latin America and discussing possible adaptation and application potential under the conditions of other regions.
  • Learning about experiences in South Asia and Africa to learn and manage knowledge from activities carried out by rural poor and small farmers to solving particular rural development challenges.
  • Analyzing the convenience and potential adoption of those methods through a South-South exchange program, that may build capacities and share experiences to accelerate rural development and poverty alleviation processes.
So these two days we are gathered with 15 people all involved in learning networks, we will be hearing about the experiences of all of them: the ENRAP project in the Philippines and India, The Experince of ASOCAMP in Latin America, Fidafrique and experiences in West Africa and Madagascar.

Today the workshop started with a presentation about the Chorlaví group by its coordinator Manuel Chiriboga:



View more presentations from ComPart User.


This presentation gave a good insight in the process the Grupo Chorlaví went through in the past 12 years. A path which was characterized by an ongoing process of learning about the own way of working and adaptation of the lessons learnt about promoting learning activities among actors of Rural development in Latin America.

Also some interesting lessons about thematic issues where presented, such as:
Dynamic markets are both local and outside territories. Local markets on which producers and organizations normally have an amount of information (price, quality, type of consumers) can become engines of economic development. Not always external markets are the only ones that are dynamic.
Innovations within institutions and of productive processes have been critical in assuring access and the sustainability of links with dynamic markets.
When territories can link Identity to products and services new markets can be developed, which can under certain circumstances transform territories
Generally the impacts of market access are transmitted to the territories through the increase in employment and incomes of the participants in value chains directly linked to the products that are exchanged in such dynamic markets.

This presentation led to interesting discussions among the participants about many aspects of fostering learning processes, such as (the oral) culture and language, the always scarce means, mechanisms to define the themes about which joint learning can be organized and the necessity to create a ‘learning culture’ within the own organization.

In conclusion for the Grupo Chorlaví it all is about building and developing a system of ‘Social Learning’ which in the end has to lead to change. In that way inclusing learning processes always will improve the quality of (development) projects and enhance the possibility of up scaling.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Seven reasons why the new PBworks Business Edition is good for you!

PBworks is the wiki platform that we are using in ComPart and they have recently released a new version that has a lot of new and improved features. In fact, PBworks offers now more than just the possibility to create wikis, and the benefit of this can summarized as follows:
  1. PBworks offers the possibility to create a 'securely open garden' for the ICCO Alliance flowers to grow in a protected environment, leaving the possibility open for 'outsiders' to view and comment on the greater part of the content.

  2. It has chat and instant messaging functionalities, to exchange with colleagues in real time while you are working on a wiki.

  3. Users can create project related milestones and assign tasks.

  4. It makes possible to differentiate between 'network users' that can join all workspaces in the network, and 'guest' that are invited only to specific workspaces.

  5. It provides a better overview of what's happening in the garden, bringing together in one single place all the notifications about changes in the different workspaces.

  6. It has social functionalities, with each user able to create and update his/her profile and status and to 'follow' others users.

  7. Economically, it provided to be a great deal!
We as ComPart admin team are very happy with these new development, even if they entails some extra work for us in terms of getting all the network users aboard and setting rights and permissions for users and guests...

To support ICCO Alliance staff and partners in this process and to help you find your way in the new ComPart network, we're developing a series of user manuals and guides. Please let us know if something is still missing, and if you need specific explanations we are not yet providing.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

ComPart comes of age

"We've stopped playing and now we've started the game", said Reinier van Hoffen after the ComPart lunchtime meeting last week. He was referring to one of the themes that emerged at the ICCO Alliance Working Conference last year.

For the last two years ICCO staff have been working with the ComPart team to explore how best we can support collaboration and knowledge sharing across the Alliance using modern online tools. Browsing through the over 100 wikis, regular blog posts and collections of conferences and workshops material from events across the globe, it's clear that we are in a new, more advanced, phase.

A key indicator of this, of course, is that the ICCO Alliance Business Plan is being developed in a wiki, which means easier management of documents and comments than is possible in the traditional approach that has large numbers of documents flying around the organisation by email, risking confusion over which is a current version and increasing the email flood. At the same time several teams have developed workspaces to support their everyday work, with rich and varied content, using a number of tools.

Just do it!

To share the work that is being done across ICCO, ComPart organised a lunchtime 'show and tell' on Tuesday 23 February 2010. It was a well attended meeting, with staff from all areas of the organisation. The central activity was a chat show - a presentation from three teams of how the the ComPart approach is supporting their work. As you can see from the recording below, the teams are gathering a wide range of material and using several tools. Possibly more important is their enthusiasm for their work. All of the presenters echoed Mariken Gaanderse when she said, "For me the best advice (to my colleagues) would be just to start using (ComPart), because only then you'll find out what it provides you."



However, in spite of the progress and enthusiasm, many challenges still remain: not all staff are at ease with technological changes and the learning curve seems to be a bit steep for some. Moreover, some desktop or web based applications are not easily available for staff inside the ICCO building, limiting for example the use of Skype, the synchronization between Outlook and Google calendar, or the availability of AT&T Connect. Lastly, the enormous pressures on the Regional Offices during their set-up phase means many haven't yet been able to explore in any depth the ComPart approach and toolkit. ComPart is especially relevant in the new decentralised ICCO. So it is good to hear that regions such as Central Asia, which are more established, are now keen to engage with the programme, as Pepijn Trapman confirmed on his recent visit to Utrecht.

The debate and lively discussion offered us as ComPart Admin Team a great deal of insight in terms of expectations, challenges and issues that ICCO Alliance staff are facing as far as information, communication and knowledge sharing are concerned, and how ComPart can further support their work. The recommendations and issues raised are being integrated into our plans for 2010, and will be reflected in the way we support ICCO Alliance staff and partners.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Sharing of responsibilities

The ICCO Alliance started a process of change five years ago in which key elements are a programmatic approach in which we try to influence systems rather than supporting individual projects, a sharing of responsibilities and a decentralization of ICCO's work to the regions. The South Asia regional conference on food security and conflict transformation was for me how these changes can be put to practice in the South Asia region.

The interaction and level of discussion during the first day made clear to me that South Asian civil society organizations are strong and definitely have the potential to take their work to a more advanced and strategic level with a matching increasing impact. Yet their are also still questions, challenges and uncertainties that can not simply be answered by the ICCO Alliance. It requires vision and above all courage from both members of the ICCO Alliance and their partners to develop new roads.

During the first day of the conference some very wise remarks were made about the existing divisions in the South Asia region. Yes there are political, ethnic, economic and religious divisions that do trouble the relations between governments in the region. But, as it was stressed, civil society organizations are well placed to overcome such divisions and point at the strengths of plurality. As they do not represent their governments they can transcend borders and come up with strong visions that reflect the will of the people to bring peace, harmony and respect for differences.

If such wisdom is to continue to dominate the conference, I'm very confident that the conference will prepare the ground for more successful cooperation within countries and within the region.

Harry Derksen
Projectleader Business Plan of the ICCO Alliance