October 2007

The Institutional Learning and Change Initiative of the CGIAR (ILAC) starts a new five-year phase, with support from DGIS. “This new phase of the ILAC Initiative will strive to enhance impacts through partnerships for innovation and to support pro-poor groups that are already employing innovative approaches but may lack adequate visibility, resources and credibility.” Among other important activities ILAC is also organizing with the PRGA Program, ILRI’s Innovation Works and the Sustainability Science Program, and the Center for International Development at Harvard University a workshop on “Rethinking Impact: Capturing the Complexity of Poverty and Change”. The workshop will be held at CIAT headquarters in Cali, Colombia from March 26-28, 2008. Prospective participants are requested to submit abstracts by November 9, 2007. Background information and a call for papers are at: http://www.prgaprogram.org/riw

10 useful tips from www.aptivate.org

1. No Page Bigger than 25kB. Design your pages to load within 10 seconds over 20kbps connections, which means 25kB is the maximum page size. If you do one thing, do this.

2. Reduce Images. Good design is possible without lots of images. Use CSS for layout and rollovers, instead of images. Make sure your site is usable if images are turned off in the browser. Optimising the images you do have can make them a fraction of the size.

3. Have Good Site Structure. Provide easy navigation. Don’t make users load unnecessary pages which are annoying for all users but really frustrating for users with low bandwidth connections.

4. Use Style Sheets. Using style sheets (CSS) is more efficient. Don’t use tables for layout. Avoid using JavaScript. Avoid embedding style rules within the page.

5. Minimize HTTP Requests. Every image, CSS file, JavaScript file and HTML page requires a separate HTTP request. Too many requests will add delays to page loading.

6. Turn on Compression. Enabling compression on your web server could shrink your pages to half the size.

7. Be Cache-able. Allow browsers to keep a local copy of, or “cache”, your pages.

8. Avoid PDFs. Avoid using PDFs. If you use them, optimize them for low bandwidth. PDFs can be optimized by using vector-based graphics and minimizing the number of fonts.

9. Put Useful Items First. Put main navigation items at the top of each page so they load and display first. Make your pages useful even before they finish loading.

10. Show Link Sizes. Don’t force the user to download large things, always link to them, and if they are over 75kB say how large they are going to be.


More at: http://www.aptivate.org/webguidelines/Guidelines.html

The Knowledge Sharing project has been involved for more than a year in an effort of the CGIAR to “give civil society a stronger voice in the CGIAR and foster mutual learning in joint endeavors”. The project has done this through suggesting, co-designing and facilitation of participatory processes applied in on-line and face-to-face interaction in order to achieve KS principles like inclusiveness, active listening, and opportunities for exploration.

Most recently, the Institutional KS project got involved in the design and facilitation of the inception workshop of the 4 winning projects of the Competitive Grant Scheme that was held in Washington D.C. last week.

The two-day event offered opportunities for fruitful discussions around each project’s focus, partnership networks and issues related to project communication. Some main points on the workshop agenda have been:

  • An interactive exploration around the projects to find common ground
  • A session on people and networks led by the consultant Nancy White.
  • An introduction to communication and outreach strategies led by Purvi MhetaBhatt, from the Science Ashram in India.
  • An overview of a partnership study recently commissioned by the CGIAR Science Council.

In the short videos produced with our digital cameras, the participants highlight very different aspects of the event: Sylvain Mapatano from the Plateforme Kiobass liked the cross regional richness of experiences of projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America; Andrew Noble from IWMI appreciated the opportunity to share with colleagues of similar thinking and thoughts, Pascal Sanginga from CIAT had a particular interest in some sessions, like the one on networks and communication.

One participant, Nigel Asquith from Fundación Natura stated at the very end: “We are committed to make this process work”, expressing this way the consciousness about the opportunity to showcase more effective ways of CSO-CGIAR engagement.

Some things that went well KS perspective: (1) There was sufficient time and space to come up as a group with ideas for follow-up actions. (2) The guest-speakers made it lively and brought in diverse perspectives.

Some things that could be improved: (1) More active involvement of the participants beforehand via a Dgroup to share workshop expectations and be prepared to include those better in the agenda; (2) The Grant Scheme doesn’t include the issues of joined learning between CSOs, CG centers and Secretariat on partnerships throughout the Program, which seems to be a vital component. Participants came however up with constructive suggestions that will now be explored.

See Workshop pictures at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8764209@N07/sets/72157602342081967/

See videos at: http://blip.tv/file/425193/

More information on the Competitive Grant Scheme Program and the winning proposals at: http://www.cgiar.org/csos/cso_cgiar_grant_program.html


CG participants met on day 3 to digest the conference and jointly think about possible ways to move forward. Some ideas that were discussed:

  • Look at the “IFPRI” model of training and guidance, which consists in once a week face to face and/or distance modules.
  • Support through the Institutional Knowledge Sharing Project, Web 2.0 Pilot activities in different centers
  • The ICT-KM Program could prepare a short PPP on the conference for participants to use, enrich, and share with their centers to raise awareness.
  • Share with ICT-KM the Web 2.0 applications used in the CG to start to share them CG-wide through RSS feeds, and have a pool of colleagues to contact to share experiences and know-how.