Saturday, 19 December 2009

ICCO Programmatic Approach

Over the past three months I have been busy with an evaluative study for ICCO about their so-called Programmatic Approach. This approach has been introduced in ICCO since 2007 and radically changed their way of development programming. As one of the key Dutch development agencies, ICCO has worked through local partners in developing countries for decades. However, this was mainly through projects or institutional funding. In the Programmatic Approach ICCO has started to look at development challenges in a more holistic way, and tries to deal with complex issues in development through local coalitions of partners. These programme coalitions go through a process of programme development in which they define common goals, both at the level of interventions, but also at the level of joint learning, capacity building or lobby and advocacy.

Below is an interview with me from the website.

Together with consultant Erica Wortel I did an evaluative study of the Programmatic Approach of ICCO, in which we consolidated the experiences with the approach. In October and November we studies a lot of literature on the approach, interviewed staff, management and partners and conducted a survey.

The study showed that a lot of progress has been made by ICCO in developing the Programmatic Approach. The approach is well appreciated by both staff and partners. Obviously, introducing a new approach has not been easy, in particular because ICCO has also gone through other important changes over the same period. On 15 December we presented our findings and conclusions to ICCO in Utrecht, which was well received.

More information about the ICCO Programmatic Approach can be found on and .

Monday, 7 December 2009

Change Alliance Launch

From 2-3 December 2009, over 60 development professionals, academics and development activist from all over the world gathered in Wageningen, the Netherlands, to launch The Change Alliance.

The Change Alliance is an emerging global network of organisations joining forces to increase the effectiveness of the multi-stakeholder processes with which they engage. Its aim is to help improve the quality of the design, dialogue, learning, and facilitation, on which these processes depend. The logic of the Alliance is that complex problems demand a new dynamic of how governments, citizens, business and civil society organisations work together. The Alliance functions by linking specific multi-stakeholder 'learning sites' with a global learning and knowledge sharing platform.

At Wageningen UR - CDI we have been at the foundation of the Change Alliance, together with the Generative Change Community, ICCO, SNV and IDS. Over the past two years we have invested a lot of time and energy to get the initiative off the ground. The Launch Event was the first reality check to see if there is enough interest to get the initiative going. Below an interview of Hettie Walters, chair of the Change Alliance foundation group about the importance of the Alliance.

The Launch event was very inspirational and has given the Alliance a real boost. We are looking forward to seeing concrete actions from people and organisations to share and learn about multi-actor engagement. More information about the change alliance, where you can also find out how to join the initiative: . More information about the Launch Event with more videos, pictures, background documents and reports can be found here.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Joining Forces to Support Ugandan Farmer Entrepreneurs

From 18-20 November I facilitated a multi-stakeholder workshop with Agri-ProFocus (APF) in Uganda. This is part of a process of focusing attention from a large number of Dutch NGOs and their local partners towards coordination of activities on Farmer Entrepreneurship. This APF 'country focus' process will continue for a number of years and I will support the facilitation of this process from Wageningen UR - Centre for Development Innovation. Similar processes are taking place in Zambia, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Kenya, Niger and Mozambique.
More information:

(From press release...)
Agriculture is one of the key sectors of the Ugandan economy. Yet, evidence suggests that since 1997, the performance of the sector has not at all been optimal. Growth has been mixed while 70 % of Uganda’s population depend on agriculture for income and livelihood. Besides, with current population growth rates, food insecurity regularly hits 12 milion Ugandans.

To boost the sector a focus on farmer entrepreneurship is key. Challenges include: poor access and adoption of new technologies, inadequate marketing capacity, limited access to affordable finance, sub-optimal organisation framework for farmers, and inadequate infrastructure. HIV/AIDS, gender and youth issues, environment and climate change pose challenges to the development of the sector.

Dutch NGOs, finance agencies and knowledge institutes - united under Agri-ProFocus – are now joining hands to stimulate the enhancement of farmer entrepreneurship in Uganda. This initiative is led by SNV Uganda and supported by Wageningen University Centre for Development Innovation, Oxfam Novib, HIVOS, Cordaid, Oikocredit, Solidaridad, the Royal Tropical Institute, PUM, Heifer and Agriterra in addition to their local partners.

Agri-ProFocus stands for:
  • Agricultural producer organisations in developing countries are key to economic development and poverty reduction.
  • Promoting farmer entrepreneurship through cooperation, exchange and learning is the goal of our partnership.
  • Focus is on four themes: value chains, financial services, sustainable food production and gender.
Vibrant Kick Off Workshop
Through their partner networks Agri-ProFocus members have a fair level of presence on the development scene in Uganda. They are involved in areas such as financial services, food production, value chain and market access, knowledge and research, organisational and institutional development.
To develop a joint vision on how work together, Agri-ProFocus held a multi-stakeholder workshop at the Imperial Botanical Beach Hotel in Entebbe. From 18 to 20 November close to 70 representatives from all over Uganda including, business development services, farmers organisations, researchers, NGOs and private sector representatives got together to come up with a clear strategy on:
- how to harmonise existing programmes;
- crucial joint activities to address gaps in the sector;
- ways for more continuous exchange and learning.

The event was opened by SNV Uganda and the Dutch Embassy and was supported from the government by Professor Otim, presidential advisor on Prosperity for All. Throughout the three days, a lot of active group work was combined with presentations from UNFFE, Pelum Uganda, Ssemwanga Group and CICS.

Perspectives on Farmer Entrepreneurship: some key quotes from the workshop

Beatrice Twayaga, ESAFF Kabale – Farmers on the ground do things as individuals (for me, my own and my family). How do they get focused?

Patrick Bakunda, Uganda Cooperative Alliance - All what we are talking about here, are Small Holder Farmers and one way or another we are saying they should come together to do collective marketing, finance etc. Why can’t we re-establish our cooperatives?

Mark van Esch, Shares - An important issue is the mentality of farmers. That it is a major problem for investors to continue investing. For example you can provide farmers with training, give them tools, guarantee to buy their produce etc. But if someone else passes by and offers them a slightly higher price, you lose that investment.

Deborah Mwesigye, Uganda Commodity Exchange- We need to focus our capacity building to individual farmers rather than the top level people in the producer groups

Dr. Ssemwanga, Ssemwanga Group – We need to get in people with the right attitude. Look for those that more ready to be farmer entrepreneur and you can tweak this. For the rest, the best policy is not to try and fit a round peg in a square hole.

Working towards Joint Victories
Rather than ending with a vague declaration, the final session ended with participants committeing to collaborate towards concrete outcomes. In a year from now the following ‘Victories’ are to be achieved:
- An integrated and harmonized market information system accessible for farmers;
- Improved accessibility of financial services to farmer organizations and other value chain actors;
- Identified best practice as regard building economically viable farmer’s organizations;
- Joint policy work to enhance agricultural policy in Uganda;
- Strengthened links between service provision and farming system development based on farmer led research.

Expectedly within these priorities a number of specific value chains will be targeted, such as coffee, dairy and food crops. Over the next months the Agri-ProFocus Uganda network will take off. Responsibilities are with small coalitions to take the lead on the above ‘Victories’ Participation in this network is open to all organizations which feel they have a relevant contribution to make towards the agenda for strengthening farmer entrepreneurship in Uganda.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Google Wave

Well, well - I am now getting into a new era of internet experiences: Google Wave.

My brother-in-law sent me an invite for this 'revolutionary' application and I'm on it. I learned about Google Wave only last week when I watched the introduction video and it looked fantastic.

It is basically a tool that takes real-time internet communication to another level. It combines email, chat, wikis, blogs, twitter etc and makes this all look like magic.
But .... it is not yet out there for everyone. Google Wave is now online piloted as a review version, for those who have an invitation. Well, I have one, and if you're also lucky - you can find me surfing the Wave at: .

And .... I now also have a few invites to give away. Let me know if you want one!
Happy surfin'!

Monday, 28 September 2009

Multi-Stakeholder Process Course 2009

From 7-25 September I facilitated the yearly international course on Multi-Stakeholder Processes and Social Learning at Wageningen International. We had a great group of 30 participants from 12 countries and various sectors. They were all practitioners in multi-stakeholder engagement, from government, private sector, NGOs or science fields.

The first week focused mostly on concepts, theories and tools for analysing and facilitating multi-stakeholder processes. The participants used their own cases for extensive analysis, discussion and sharing.

In the second week, we deepened some of the issues and applied learning in different ways. A role play was done about multi-actor conflict in natural resource management and we also organised a seminar about the interface between research and policy within the context of multi-actor processes.

The last week included a field research about multi-stakeholder visioning and planning in rural Friesland, the north of the Netherlands. The participants studies a process of village visioning around issues of spatial planning in which local villages, municipalities and provincial government all worked together.

At the end of the course each participant went on to make a personal action plan to implement the learning in their own organisations or multi-stakeholder processes.

Again, it has been a worthwhile experience with dedicated participants and a great course faculty. Below an animoto video with our experiences of the three weeks. Enjoy!

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Making Professional Dynamic Slideshows and Videos with

This summer I encountered a new and exciting webtool: animoto. This allows you to make amazing professionally looking slideshows and videos online.

We started using it at Wageningen International to make a video for the new website of the Change Alliance (see below), and I soon got the hang of it. It is so easy you won't believe it. You can make short (30 sec) clips for free (see example on the YPARD post) and at a low subscription fee clips up to 10 minutes.

An exciting tool! Try it: ( and use referral code "islkvcbg") .

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Strategic Planning for YPARD, Rome

From 25-27 August I was with the Young Professionals Platform on Agricultural Research for Development (YPARD). This is a network organisation that builds the capacity for young professionals in agricultural research for developmet (ARD) and lobbies and advocate for a more pro-poor ARD.

YPARD is an interesting and exciting network with an important cause. It has some 1400 members from all over the world (mainly in developing countries). This week I facilitated the development of a new strategic plan that will focus the operations of the organisation over the coming years. It was a vibrant meeting in Rome (hosted by FAO) in which we tried to balance the needs of young professionals in developing countries and the goal of lobby and advocacy. The draft strategic plan that we produced will now further be development and is to be used as a business plan for fundraising and management.

I have quickly become a member of YPARD myself - a great cause (and it's free!), just go to their website .
Some impressions from the planning workshop:

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Climate Change Adaptation in Addis Ababa

After my MSP training in Uganda (April) I went on to visit some partners in Nairobi and Addis Ababa for the preparation of a climate change adaptation course. This two-week course took place from 12-27 June in Ethiopia.

At the request of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV) Wageningen UR has initiated a support programme for climate change adaptation in Eastern Africa in 2008. In partnership with ASARECA, IUCN – EARO and RUFORUM we held a scoping workshop and follow-ups in to see how to respond to capacity building needs. The focus was on capacities needed to better integrated climate change adaptation responses into agricultural, rural development and natural resources policy processes. The initiative led, among others, to the development of a new training course in 2009, implemented by the partnership, in collaboration with HoA-REC at Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia.

For me this was a completely new territory, and a very exciting one. Together with my colleague Catharien Terwisscha van Scheltinga we developed a very comprehensive course that tried to bridge the gap between science and policy on climate change adapation in East Africa.

The regional training on Climate Change Adaptation in agriculture and NRM took place from 15 to 26 June 2009 in Addis Ababa. It was attended by 26 participants from Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. Participants were drawn from universities, agricultural research institutes, non-governmental organisations and government departments. I facilitated the course with Catharien, and Dr Mekuria Argaw from Addis Ababa university, complemented by presenters and lecturers from various universities and institutes.

The course covered a variety of topics related to climate change adaptation. As always, we used very interactive training methods. Experiences of participants were the entry point for interaction – and participants brought in their own examples of climate change hotspots that were used for joint analysis. The course included field work to practice vulnerability assessment and an interactive seminar with policy makers to discuss and refine strategies for policy development and programming on Climate Change.

It was a great experience to be in Ethiopia, working on this topic. The curriculum we developed for this course is a great mix between 'content' topics on climate change adaptation, vulnerability and sustainable development, and 'process' topics such as stakeholder analysis and policy development. We will deliver the same course again in East Africa in March 2010 and plans are underway to extend the capacity building programs to other continents. Exciting! More information: course report.

Friday, 10 April 2009

SNV Uganda - Third MSP Course

From 30 March to 3 April I facilitated another Multi-stakeholder course for SNV-Uganda in Kampala. This was the third course Wageningen International has done for SNV to increase the capacity on multi-actor engagement.

In May 2008 a 4-day course was facilitated with senior advisors and portfolio
coordinators. In August 2008 a 4-day follow-up was conducted focused on a
value chain approach to MSPs. This course in 2009 is the last one in the
series and included another group of SNV advisors from 3 sectors and 4

This training introduced the concepts and practice of how to facilitate change
processes through a MSP approach as understood and practiced by
Wageningen International.

This last MSP course as part of the learning programme for SNV Uganda that
started in 2008 was mainly focused at consolidating the capacity on MSPs in
SNV Uganda. It involved a group of advisors that has been working on MSPs
before, but did not take part in previous courses. It allowed for the
development of a common language and approach to Multi-stakeholder

It has been a rewarding programme to work with SNV and I hope the relationship will continue to grow.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Local Governance for Rural Development Course

From 9-20 February I co-ordinated the 'local governance for rural development' course in Wageningen. This was a 2-week course, which Wageningen International has organised with the Royal Tropical Institute in French for several years. This year we organised the course in English for the first time, with an audience of 27 participants from 11 countries.

Focus of the course is governance as multi-stakeholder processes for institutional strengthening. The past decade has seen a growing interest in the role of governance in stimulating development and poverty reduction. Private sector organisations are increasingly addressing issues of governance internally and in their relations with other actors. Within the public administration it results in institutional reforms, such as decentralisation, and the outsourcing of public services.

Thinking about the relationships between government, the private sector and civil society has changed considerably. Instead of being perceived as passive beneficiaries, rural populations are increasingly seen as citizens who have the right to participate and who demand good local governance. The role of governments is shifting towards creating an enabling environment and to facilitating development rather than steering it. The private sector is engaging in partnerships for pro-poor development. A new institutional playing field is emerging between civil society, government and private parties in the quest for socio-economic and rural development.

This has led to the understanding that local governance for rural development should be addressed as a multi-stakeholder process with interactions taking place at different levels amongst actors with different ambitions or perceptions. Particularly, the role of local governments is growing with their success being measured in terms of responsiveness and accountability to citizens; improved service delivery; its leadership in promoting pro-poor economic development; and its capacity to negotiate with the private sector, NGOs, local authorities and central government. These changes challenge the actors involved to develop new “institutions” – formal and informal norms, procedures and practices, accountability relations – in order to adjust to new functions and challenges in society.

The course included sessions on defining good local governance; exploring institutional trends such as new public management, decentralisation and the implications for local governance; multi-stakeholder and institutional analysis and change processes; local governance planning; the role of civil society; performance measurement and accountability; participatory budgeting; negotiation, power and conflict. The course also included a mini-seminar on pro-poor local economic development. It very much focused on actual situation participants worked in: their countries and the institutional context of governance, challenges of governance they face etc. Participants also developed action plans to apply the learning in their organisations. The course was very well received and participants have started an active yahoo-group to keep each other informed about the different things happening after the course.

Another course on local governance and rural development is scheduled in February 2010.

Friday, 30 January 2009

Raising the standards on MSP facilitation in Albania

From 19-30 January I facilitated a two-week training on Multi-stakeholder Processes for SNV advisors in Albania. This was the third MSP training for SNV in the Balkans, after Bosnia-Herzegovina (December 2007) and Montenegro (November 2008). The training was attended by 13 participants from SNV in Albinia, coming from three different portfolio teams and three sectors (Tourism, Agriculture and Forestry).

The training covered the usual content of concepts, frameworks and tools for MSP facilitation. But on top of this, the training included 'fieldwork' of the participants: actual facilitation of multi-stakeholder meetings with SNV clients.