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Decision and Policy Analysis Research Area – DAPA

Constructive Criticism: Learning Alliance Members Engage in Participatory Writing Workshop

From August 12 to 15, CIAT lead the third installment in a series of regional Learning Alliance workshops in Estelí, Nicaragua. At this particular meeting, there were over 25 attendees representing Catholic Relief ServicesVeco Mesoámerica and Veco Andino. Attendees were invited based on their current field implementation of LINK Methodology in their respective product’s supply chains.

Participants peer-review each other's case studies.

Participants peer-review each other’s case studies.

Past workshops have covered the four tools that make up LINK Methodology. The most recent workshop, also held in Nicaragua, discussed the application of the Prototype Cycle, which is the fourth tool in the LINK Methodology.  To learn more about past workshops, check out related blog posts at the end of this entry.

The participating product chains included milk, meat, beans, vegetables, cacao, honey, maracuya and corn. A guest participant representing asparagus attended from VECO Andino in Peru. Each case consists of a set of common actors; including a producer organization, a buyer and a facilitating NGO.

A participant maps out her case's value chain.

A participant maps out her case’s value chain.

Participants were asked to review the implementation process of LINK Methodology and critically reflect upon the challenges, bottlenecks and opportunities that the LINK tools presented to their respective product chains. Participants responded to questions such as:

  • What challenges did you encounter?
  • What would you do differently? What would you do the same?
  • How long did the process take you?
  • Which resources do you wish you had more of?

The writing aspect of the workshop was extremely dynamic, with participants asked to review each other’s work and provide constructive comments in what workshop leaders called a “Two Lane Model.”

Beginning with a discussion on how to respectively generate feedback and recommendations, participants then proceeded to first review for content gaps. Splitting into sub groups working in two different rounds over two days encouraged an environment where participants could thoughtfully discuss and reflect on their work.

The end product for each participant is a 15-page document that clearly elaborated on themes and questions discussed in the workshop, including a brief overview of LINK results and feedback on the tools and processes. According to Linking Farmers to Markets team member Alexandra Amrein,

Everyone was excited to share their experiences – both positive and negative. These kinds of dynamic group activities are vital to creating constructive commentary; you could really see how having people work through results together will help to make LINK more user-friendly.

CIAT's Alexandra Amrein helped in facilitating the workshop, focusing on LINK Methodology.

CIAT’s Alexandra Amrein helped in facilitating the workshop, focusing on LINK Methodology.

Ultimately, these case studies will be organized and combined into a LINK Methodology supplementary report, which will help provide context to the methodology. The goal is to create a sort of sourcebook for practitioners implementing LINK, where they can see the theory alongside a selection of various cases that may present correlations with their own.

The next step in the Learning Alliance course is a workshop scheduled for Spring 2015, where participants will gather a fourth time to engage in the systemization stage, which will encourage continued use of the tool and lessons learned throughout the process. Until then, workshop leaders will provide support and guidance remotely to authors every two months to ensure the next workshop is as productive as those previous.

Past Learning Alliance Workshops:

Collaboration for Inclusiveness: Learning Alliances in Central America

Designing inclusive business models in Central America

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