The recent Africa RISING program learning event (24-26 September 2013) revealed an incredible wealth of tools and approaches used across the program. The list includes:
West Africa
Tools for collecting data

  • Mother-baby trials (mentioned in this article)
  • Participatory community analysis (PRAE, PRA, RRA)
  • Impact LITE
  • Biomass assessment tool
  • Focus group discussions
  • Value chain analysis

Tools for disseminating and exchanging information

  • Farmer training videos (mentioned in this article)
  • Hands-on demos
  • Community radio
  • Field days
  • NBCC (Nutrition Behavior Change Communication)
  • Community seed production

East and Southern Africa

Ethiopian Highlands

  • AKTS (Agroecological KGE Tool Kit) with participatory community analysis
  • FEAST (Feed Assessment Tools)
  • TechFit
  • Value chain mapping tool (to identify actors in the value chain)
  • Value Chain Analysis Tool (to identify what value chain actors are doing)
  • PCA (Participatory community analysis)
  • Field days/demo plots
  • SLATE (Sustainable Livelihood Asset Tool Evaluation)
  • National innovation platforms
  • Local innovation platforms
  • Digital stories
  • Impact LITE (baseline survey or info generation tool)
  • Participatory resources mapping (natural assets; feed into SLATE)

A few tools are used across the board (focus group discussions, FEAST, communication tools) but many are also used only in certain regions. The ensuing conversation raised important questions and proposed some ways forward for these tools:

  • A compendium of tools and approaches has been developed and will be updated as the program unfolds;
  • The tools are sometimes overlapping sometimes not, their usefulness and impact is unclear and deserves more attention, as well as more sharing across the regions to ensure more consistent approaches and building upon the merits of some of these tools and approaches and on the useful experiences honed by project teams.
  • The tyranny of tools is a concrete threat: so many tools are out there but how many of these tools really lead to proper data analysis to inform management, implementation, communication of Africa RISING activities?
  •  Perhaps the most important tools – which might be missing here – aside from data gathering and dissemination tools, are collective sense-making tools and other tools or approaches focused on discourse, analysis etc. to feed conversations with key issues.

This discussion and the list of tools and approaches – and whatever next steps follow thereafter – are another illustration of the importance of the program learning event to ensure leaner communication, better cooperation, stronger coordination. The 2014 edition should shed light on a refined list of tools and approaches.
Read minutes from the learning event and specifically about this session
Photos from the event
Presentations from the event

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