Throughout 2011, 2012 and 2013, upon request from IFAD, ILEIA guided a systematisation trajectory with agricultural field staff in East and Southern Africa. The participants reflected on their work to support smallholder family farmers in the region, and articulated their insight.
In three countries, Ethiopia, Zambia and Swaziland, field staff, farmers, project coordinators and monitoring and evaluation officers engaged in a process of reflection, learning and knowledge sharing, facilitated by ILEIA.
In two workshops, participants critically analysed their own work, bringing up lessons for themselves and others to benefit from. Often these lessons remain implicit, as highlighted by Alfred Mkonda, one of the participants. “We learn a lot, but as long as it is not written down there are a lot of blank pages in our institutional diaries.”
Documentation and systematisation is a learning process. Participants selected, described and analysed a rural development initiative with farmers that they are involved in. These initiatives relate for example to irrigation, market access or strengthening farmer organisations.
In a ‘writeshop’ that followed several months later, after participants gathered additional voices from the field, they used this to deepen their analysis and wrote an article that included their lessons learnt. Building skills around the art of writing, they discussed content, audience, structure and style of a good article.
“I thought it was just another workshop,” said Programme manager Martin Liywalii, “but in three-and-a-half days we actually made a product, which would otherwise have taken us months!”
Following a first documentation workshop in 2012, facilitated by ILEIA, staff from IFAD-funded programmes gathered again to write down their experiences in July 2013, Bahir Dar, Ethiopia. Reflecting on their own work, they wrote 14 articles to share widely the lessons they learnt. Learning for rural change, Ethiopia (PDF).
‘Learning for rural change: 11 stories from Zambia’ is a kaleidoscopic view of a variety of agricultural initiatives taking place in Zambia, many of them supported by IFAD. Learning for Rural Change, Zambia (PDF).
Family farmers, field workers and journalism students analysed and articulated their experiences from the field in a documentation process, facilitated by ILEIA. Lessons in supporting family farming in Swaziland (PDF).
In addition, a film maker produced four compelling films on each, all released in the middle of the International Year of Family Farming.
The films, produced by Ray Magagula: