Day 1

The first day of the M&E planning workshop went well with many lessons and few surprises. I would like to share with you some of these surprises and lessons learned:

Ø      As we started the workshop with expectations of the workshop, we learned that workshop participants could actually come up with exciting issues that could add knowledge to the M&E paradigm. An interesting expectation from one workshop participant is “using M&E to help increase skills and knowledge in order to increase production.”

Ø      We continued with a group task of mapping the Theory of Change (ToC) of the program with different stakeholder groups. In doing this, we found that it is important to know the composition of the program staff and their area of expertise in order to assign them in the stakeholder groups that discuss the ToC of the program.

Ø      Unexpected events such as having large numbers in one group than expected could make the facilitator nervous, especially if this was not expected by the facilitator. I was given the task of facilitating crop extension groups and it turned out that the workshop has many participants from crop extension staff. To calm myself of the unexpected event of facilitating large number of participants, I resorted to telling the participants that they are experts in the field, i.e. empowering them, and that they are going to draw the ToC for the program and handed over the ball to the participants.

Ø      While facilitating, there was an issue of language being a barrier of communication. To clarify this in the group task, first I asked group members which language they would be comfortable to use (as I didn’t speak and understand Kiswahili). The response I got was to use English. Hence, to make sure that all participants comfortably understood what is discussed, when one participant comes up with an idea to be put on a card, I gave out a card and marker to another participant, who seemed quiet, to write the idea on the card. This way, I made sure that the quiet participant is following the discussion and is not quiet due to language barrier. I also deliberately encouraged debates and discussions to be done in Kiswahili and when they reach to consensus they would tell me what to write on the cards. Although, I might miss out some discussion points in this way, I preferred the comfort and easiness that comes with using Kiswahili for participants.   

Ø      A surprising event is that while facilitating group tasks, I was not aware of some abbreviations used by participants. For example, BEO – Block Extension Officer. It is important as a facilitator to familiarize oneself with abbreviations used by participants, instead of asking them what they meant by during discussions.

Ø      Another lesson learned from the task force in day one is not to take things for granted. For example, we assumed that participants in the M&E planning workshop are well aware of the objective and activities of the program as they have been to sensitization workshops of the program. However, this was not our so in our case. In order to solve this problem, one solution could be doing a brief presentation on the program’s Goal, Purpose, and Objectives. A shortfall to this solution is that it could make participants limited themselves only to those boxes and not go out to do innovative thinking out of the boxes.

 

In general, we found that starting the M&E planning exercise with mapping of ToC with the different stakeholder groups a very helpful. It helps to identify the information needs of each stakeholder groups and easily maps the ToC from each stakeholder group perspective. Good output from this exercise is, of course, secured depending on the skill of a facilitator not only on understanding of the ToC of the program but also on the subject matter under discussion.

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