Participatory communication and learning with partner organizations
For local partners and organizations working in conditions of vulnerability and uncertainty with rural farm families in Central America and the Caribbean (CAC) , accessing high quality information and knowledge in real time through diverse, holistic means is valuable to meet the demands of integrated research for development initiatives. Keeping this in mind, the Alliance constructed an open and accessible information system for collective analysis and decision making at all levels, aiming to improve the flow of information and knowledge between sectors and understand the links between them.
This year-long research for development project seeks to design and construct a multi-component online information system (in Spanish) to enhance our capacity to communicate and learn with partner organizations. The components of the system currently include: Communication and learning, Organizational and actor mapping, Organizational analysis, Processes and products, Publications and Asset portfolios of rural women and rural families.
The project’s main activities involved designing a five-component online information system, generating codes for inputs and outputs for the system – including respective portals – using free software (Python and Django), hosting the system in appropriate virtual servers with their own domain for a starting period of three years, and leading the capacity development and training activities for system users.
The applications were developed in collaboration with local partner SIMAS, and validated with five Territorial Alliances located in three countries (Nicaragua, Haiti, and Dominican Republic). Results thus far show that the applications based on license-free software and with very low demand on hardware were user-friendly and promoted the use of information and data by users, improving learning and decision making by partner organizations.
It is expected that by the end of 2016, at least 100 members (30% female) of partner organizations will use the applications to share news, events and documents; to save and process data related to rural women and families’ asset portfolios; and studies related to organizations and innovation. By the end of 2017, at least 50 organizations, including CIAT, will enhance their capacity to become active members of local innovation systems.
The online information system can be aligned with multiple research programs, and can host data and information generated by all the CRP’s active in the region. The specific outputs and results generated by the information system for household surveys, study of rural women, processes and products, market access and organizational analysis will also be available to all CRP’s active in the region, and may be used by them now and in the future.
Blog written by Falguni Guharay, Scientist Research for development, CIAT, Nicaragua and revised by Shadi Azadegan, Communication Specialist, CIAT, Nicaragua