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Establishing a Community of Practice in Liberia & South Africa

News | August 8, 2014

During the Tanzania Learning and Inspiration Event in May 2014, an idea was born to continue with similar engagements at a country level.

Following, we have been working with partners in both South Africa and Liberia to develop a Community of Practice. Below, Programme Officer Precious Greehy reflects on this exchange:

Community of Practice participants

Community of Practice participants

The Community of Practice is aimed at bringing together those working on projects supported by Making All Voices Count, as well as governance actors such as the media, opinion leaders, policy influencers, knowledge brokers and policymakers.  The idea is to allow partners an opportunity to reflect on projects, share experience and seek expert advice.

In June 2014, we met with partners in South Africa to formally establish our first Community of Practice learning platform. A joint engagement framework was developed (detailing purpose, expected outcomes etc) and in July, this was further discussed and adopted by Liberian partners, with additional input to fit the local context.

Partners in both countries welcomed the opportunity to engage and learn from each other. They were excited about the opportunity to explore a closer and deeper collaboration in the implementation of their initiatives. Though all projects are unique, their objective is the same; to improve the relationship between citizens and their leaders.

Community of Practice presentation

Community of Practice presentation

Both countries have since held follow up meetings to strengthen relations. On July 28, all South African partners: Yowzit, Health E-NewsFoundation for Professional Development, Action for Conflict TransformationBlack Sash Trust and the Centre for Municipal Research and Advice (CMRA), had the opportunity to share an overview of their project delivery plans. They also gave feedback on implementation and shared successes, challenges and next steps.

By the end of the meeting, partners were able to collectively share ideas around improving their proposed initiatives and think about areas of potential collaboration at a much broader level beyond Making All Voices Count funded projects. We were delighted to note one concrete collaboration emerged between Yowzit and Black Sash. As Yowzit are advanced in using technology, and Black Sash are new in the field of using technology for accountability and transparency, they’ve formalised an exchange. As Pramod Mohanlan, Yowzit co-founder explains:

During the last meeting we found areas of collaboration. We’ve since held discussions with Black Sash, and determined we’ll assist them as advisors on the technology stream of their project and they’ll facilitate dialogue with us and other CSO’s, to enhance dialogue between citizens and government.

As featured in the lively image at the top of this post, USAID representatives met the partners after and shared insights around the broader Making All Voices Count vision, and also offered linking up the South African Community of Practice with their partners working in the field of governance.

In Liberia, the second meeting was just as successful and well attended by partners, including among others, iLabAccountability Lab, Search for Common Ground, the Prison Fellowship Programmy Societyand the Ministry of Gender and Development. They were able to select teams that will steer the Community of Practice. An impression of this session below:

Community of Practice session

Community of Practice session

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