November 2008

vicki-wildewas the underlying theme of this year’s much loved Gender and Diversity Event at the CGIAR Annual General meeting. This year we are in Maputo, Mozambique. A place, a country I am appreciating every day more. A country that came out of civil war only 15 years ago and has come a long way… But for now back to the Gender and Diversity event which every year brings together women (and starting a couple of years ago men as well) in the CGIAR and offers an opportunity to learn and network. Every year there is a different theme. I also had the opportunity to share my own personal experience 3 years back when I was asked to tell the many participants how I balanced my job with my personal life….those of you who were there I am sure remember the event well 🙂 But this year was about asking our young staff to express what they expect from the organization. “We all love working for an organization whose mandate we believe in…even better if we have an organization well run”, were the opening words of my dear friend Vicki Wilde, the Director of the Gender and Diversity Program.

So here was the space to contribute to that…

img_0565Meet Isilda Nhantumbo, an inspiring Mozambican lady, among the very few women who made the first round of selection for the 2008 AWARD program (the recently launched Gates-funded initiative to support young women researchers in Africa managed by the Gender and Diversity Program of the CGIAR.
Her heartwarming story of how her grandfather encouraged her to study, despite the fact that Mozambique had recently emerged from war….was a good frame to some very tangible ideas of what we can do in the CGIAR to support women and support young people. First: she reminded us how in the CGIAR we publish a lot of very good science…but…how accessible is this to young students, young professionals especially in developing countries. Well this point struck a chord to me…as only today we run a 2 hour workshop with 40 participants on “How to make our research outputs accessible” (more on this later…). Second coach, encourage, challenge young professionals. Give them the opportunity to lead, to interact, to experiment. Encourage internships, co-authorship, placements…Third: capitalize on the growing opportunities offered by ICT to give access to resources. Fourth: encourage publishing in local peer-review journals as a good starting point for young scientists. Fifth: A plea to senior management: “Do not fear competition, give space to young professionals…help them become as good as you are”. Powerful words!

img_0556Then meet Balasubramanian Ramani (known by all as Bala),  coordinator of the Young Professionals’ Platform for Agricultural Research for Development (YPARD), a global platform through which young professionals can express their ideas and realise their full potential towards a dynamic agricultural research for development. Bala’s story was one of Christmas and presents…we are all going to buy something for our loved ones…but chances are then the day comes that we give the presents our loved ones do not like the presents. We can try and change them but by then everything will be sold out….the moral…..involve those you care for in the decision making…..create the space for the young professionals to walk with you. Again an important reminder as we reshape the CGIAR.

img_0560Last speaker of the night: our own Nadia Manning-Thomas, the leader of the Knowledge Sharing in Research Project and her river of life. “Someone believed in me, someone gave me a chance” was how she started her story. A journey from her native island of Barbados, to Vancouver Island, to the mid-west of the United States, to the UK, to Tanzania, to Namibia, to Sri Lanka and now to Ethiopia. An honor student in archeology who found a new passion during her life journey…when being in touch with local communities helped her “heart make a shift to get to try and help with problem closer to people lives”. Hers is a story of a capable, committed young lady who was given a chance. Someone believed in her, gave her the space to grow. And look at her now! I will let her tell you her story in details!

An inspiring evening, among many participants in our Annual general meeting who came together to celebrate young, committed, capable individuals and their achievements. But also to celebrate the space our organization gives us to grow. As we continue to restructure the CGIAR, we should make sure we remind ourselves of these good stories and what made them possible. Let’s take some time to reflect and celebrate.

The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, or CGIAR, is facing unprecedented challenges. Today, rural communities across the developing world are suffering from sky rocketing food prices, the grave threat of climate change, energy shortages and unstable global financial markets. To continue to be relevant, the CGIAR has to adapt to the changing times and this video is about the revitalization process which is currently underway.

This video has been produced by the Institutional KS Project as a contribution to the socialization of the CGIAR change process. The script was done in collaboration with the CGIAR Secretariat. The multimedia was produced by a CIAT team and the original video style idea is from The Common Craft Show who kindly authorized us to use it.

The ICT-KM Program is pleased to announce that CGMap, a System-wide application developed in collaboration with  IRRI and CIAT, and in consultation with the Alliance of CG Centers, the CGIAR Secretariat and the Science Council is now up and running and can be accessed at                                                                                                                        CGMap provides a “map” that allows easy navigation through information on research and research-related activities that the CGIAR Centers and Challenge Programs publish in their Medium Term Plans (MTPs) every year. Spanning over a three-year period, MTPs describe the research agenda of each Center and Program in relation to CGIAR System priorities.

CGMap will help you find answers to questions like:  What Centers are conducting research on chickpea in Central Asia?  How many projects are contributing to genetic enhancement of selected species?

Visit the site to discover the useful functionalities that are available. You can identify projects and view fact sheets with scientific and financial information; search for outputs and output targets in project logframes; and map projects by countries where research is planned, and by potential beneficiary countries.

Finding your way around is as easy as … well, following a map.

If you have any questions regarding CGMAP please contact:

FInd photos from the recently held Knowledge Sharing in Research project Synthesis Workshop on the KS project’s Flickr site.

Directly via:

Or click on the PHOTOS tab on the top of the KS website home page (–which will take you to the Flickr site page showing all the sets of KS Project photos available–and go to the KSinR Synthesis workshop Photo set–shown in image below.


In the Most Significant Change story approach it is usual for the participants as a whole to listen to the stories and make a selection of that story or those stories which they consider to be most significant for the group or the program.

In the recently held Knowledge Sharing in Research Synthesis workshop, the review and selection of stories was done in a different way. Instead of the participants judging the stories themselves as a group, two people, somewhat outside of the direct KSinR project, were asked to listen to the stories and make comments and selections. These were:ksinr-synthesis-workshop-164

  • Meredith Giordano (IWMI)-Senior Researcher involved in Impact work at IWMI and supervising the Project Leader of KSinR
  • Debbie Bossio (IWMI)- Senior Researcher and Theme Leader of Productive Water Use Theme–not involved in the KSinR Project at all

And instead of them making their comments and selection just between the two of them (in private), the workshop used a fishbowl technique which involved Meredith and Debbie sitting in the middle of a circle made up up of all the other participants of the workshop.


Meredith and Debbie then commented on all the stories, indicating things they liked about stories, important points, key elements of packaging stories and their thoughts on the importance of particular changes indicated. They also talked about how well these could be ‘sold’ to their research Centres and projects. Everyone was asked to listen to them without interrupting first–and only after they finished their ‘internal’ discussion was it opened up to the wider group.

Some key points made in the fishbowl were:

  • Need to focus on ONE significant change–not tell everything about the project
  • To show significant change would be good to indicate what was done before/how things were done before–so that a difference can be seen–as Alessandra did in her story
  • Give evidence of or demonstrate with an example the change you are talking about–like in Phillip’s story
  • Interesting to indicate change in one’s own knowledge, skills, experience as the most significant change–this is very real and important–as shown in Natasja’s story
  • Ben’s story showed the importance of finding common interest
  • Liked how some stories showed the implications and consequences–what would happen next as a result
  • Use of numbers is appealing for scientists–Tonya’s story gave some numbers of farmers and percentage of adoption which made the change seem more concrete
  • Debbie pointed out that she couldn’t take anything in particular that she heard to the donors–need to consider target groups when developing stories
  • Should indicate what the impact has been or could be due to the change–Alexandra indicated this in her story
  • Need to feel free to tell ‘negative’ stories as alot cna be learned from these as well
  • Should consider the language we use in our stories
  • …and much more!

“Mobile Telephony in Rural Areas” COME IN AND FIND OUT!

JOIN our Latest Forum on “Mobile Telephony in Rural Areas” 17-28 November 2008


… over 150 active participants from 50 nations …

… contributions from small farmers, private sector and NGO workers, scientists and academics, and governmental representatives …

This Forum examines the challenges that rural communities face in enhancing the benefits of mobile telephony, and looks at some examples of interesting initiatives and good outcomes from around the globe.

Here’s what some of the participants are saying…

“Today, mobile telephony are being used for providing information to the farmers on pest advisory system, branchless banking, agricultural market arrivals and prices through SMS and multimedia supported system in many Asian countries. […] However, there is a lot more we can do in this field to improve the plight of small and marginal farmers with the help of innovative products/technologies customized for rural sector. This is an important forum where we can all discuss the challenges and strategies for the implementation of mobile telephony in rural areas.” – Sapna A. Narula, Assistant Professor of the G. B. Pant University of Agriculture & Technology, Pantnagar, India.

“The forum has provided a great opportunity to hear about creative uses for mobile phones from people across the world. From college professors in Uganda to farmers in Bangladesh, everyone is reporting that phones have indeed become a ubiquitous source of information reaching even remote rural areas. Their potential is really captured by all of the suggestions being made for their use and the participation of many field experts will likely make them happen.” – Hélène Martin, Grameen Foundation Technology Center,

Subject Matter experts include:
· Pete Cranston, ICT and New Media in Development Consultant;
· Laura M. Drewett, Partner Director, BusyLab Ltd.;
· Jawahar Kanjilal, Global Head of Emerging Market Services, Services & Software, Nokia;
· Christian Kreutz, Consultant, Knowledge Activist;
· AHM Sultanur Reza, Additional General Manager and Head, Community Information Center, Grameenphone Ltd.;
· Luca Servo, Communication for Development Consultant, Research and Extension Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations;

· Nigel Scott, Gamos Ltd.
With Charlotte Masiello-Riome, Communications Expert and Coordinator; and Michael Riggs, Information Management Specialist for the Asia-Pacific region, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Join in this exciting forum!
If you haven’t yet registered on the platform,
click here.
Go to, log in, and click on the forum section!
Any questions, please write to

IFPRI has recently issued a call for nominations for a new initiative on “Millions Fed: Proven Successes in Agricultural Development.” To submit a nomination or nominations, please visit

Also check out the flyer:millions-fed-flyer-pic1


The Millions Fed project, supported by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will document evidence on “what works” in agriculture—what sorts of policies, programs, and investments in pro-poor agricultural development have had a proven impact on hunger and food security.

We invite nominations highlighting interventions that have had a significant impact on food security, including those that have empowered women and vulnerable groups to improve their livelihoods. Nominations may include, for example, research and extension programs that have improved on-farm yields and outputs for small-scale farmers; public investment programs that have helped food-insecure consumers meet their daily nutritional requirements and accumulate assets; community-led efforts that have conserved soil, water, forests, and biodiversity; or market-based interventions that have strengthened the ability of small-scale farmers and food-insecure consumers to gain access to production inputs, rural services, and agricultural commodities.

Please submit your nominations by December 31, 2008. Nominated interventions will be reviewed by a panel of international experts and, if selected, highlighted in the Millions Fed global communications initiative.  For more information on the selection criteria, nomination process, and the Millions Fed project in general, please see the attached flyer or visit

We encourage you to share this call for nominations with colleagues in your organization and networks. Please feel free to contact the IFPRI Millions Fed team at if you have any questions or would like further information.

The Innovation Asia-Pacific Symposium will take place from 4 to 7 May 2009 in Katmandu, innovation-asia_flyer-brochureNepal. PROLINNOVA is co-organising this symposium with ICIMOD (International Center for Integrated Mountain Dveelopment) and CIAT Asia. PROLINNOVA partners in Nepal – LI-BIRD and Practical Action are playing a leading role in all the activities leading up to the symposium. RIU has already committed itself to financially support the symposium and several other donors are considering funding.

The call for contributions and the brochure for the symposium are attached herewith:

Please feel free to pass this on to other interested individuals and organizations. More information is found on the website Closing date for submission of abstracts is 20 December 2008.

innovation-asia_flyer-call-for-contributions1The organisers hope that this symposium will be as successful as the Innovation Africa Symposium that was co-organised in Uganda in November 2006 and contribute to promoting local innovation and innovations systems in agriculture and NRM.

In the Knowledge Sharing in Research(KSinR) project, the 6 Pilot Projects have beksinr-synthesis-workshop-014en piloting a range of knowledge sharing approaches in particular research projects, programs or domains. Their experiences have proven to be as diverse and interesting as their initially proposed approaches. Many of the Pilots have carried out a wide range of activities and experienced many things in using knowledge sharing in research.

In the previous exercises of the KSinR Synthesis Workshop the participants had been asked to describe and evaluate the whole host of activities, outputs and outcomes of their Projects.

In this session the Pilot projects were asked to present the most significant change thksinr-synthesis-workshop-165at they think has/had happened in using knowledge sharing in their research projects or domains. This was to be done through the use of the ‘Most Significant Change story approach’. Participants had been informed of this prior to arriving at the workshop and an explanation had been given on Day 1 to allow them to prepare their stories.

The question asked was:

” Looking back over time of implementing knowledge sharing philosophies and approaches in your research project, what do you think was the most significant change in the research project?”

On Day 2 the workshop moved out into the ILRI Campus gardens to present and listen to stories of most significant change from using knowledge sharing approaches in research.

The ‘most significant change’ stories consisted of:ksinr-synthesis-workshop-148

  1. From the IWMI Pilot Project ‘ Learning Alliances for Wastewater Agriculture and Sanitation for Poverty Alleviation (LA WASPA)’ the story presented by Alexandra Evans was about–
  • improved links between hygiene and wastewater use in agriculture
  • all research and actions that took place were known about and understood by all stakeholders involved
  • can work much easier with the various stakeholders after this experience

ksinr-synthesis-workshop-1462. From the IRRI Pilot Project ‘ Knowledge Management harmonising research output” the story presented by Ben Samson was about—

  • the initial workshop bringing together stakeholders brought about increased awareness and change in attitude of the various actors involved
  • the workshop provided a meeting point for people who needed something and those who could meet that need.

3. From the WorldFish Pilot Project ‘ Applying KS tools to Impact Monitoring and Project M&E” the story presented by Natasja Sheriff was about—

  • the way we (usually) do M&E in our projects is not very responsive
  • this Pilot Project provided an opportunity for Natasja to try something new out for her project and created a space for her to increase her own learning which she could then apply to other projects, share with others, and hope to influence how M&E is carried out in her institute

4. From the IWMI Pilot Project ‘ A Knowledge Sharing Approach to Safe Food”

—–a story presented by Tonya Schuetz was about—

  • a key thing that was done through this project focused on knowledge sharing was to increase and improve interactions with user groups
  • we sought feedback from stakeholders at many stages in the research process
  • through talking to potential users of the research results about the results and how messages could be effectively formulated helped the project to develop effective messages which lead to the achievement of early adoption of project recommended practices
  • took advantage of key opportunities such as the revision of the city by-laws and irrigation ksinr-synthesis-workshop-152policy which only happens every ten years
  • important to implement knowledge sharing throughout the research process

—–a story presented by Phillip Amoah was about—

  • we learned that it was necessary to work on a (national) policy level as well in order to support local action messages that we were trying to promote amongst farmers and caterers on the ground
  • it was important to work closely with the relevant ministries–in this case Ministry of Agriculture

ksinr-synthesis-workshop-1585. From the CIFOR Pilot Project ‘Shared Learning to Enhance Research Priority Assessment Practices’ the story presented by David Raitzer was about—

  • ex-ante has not previously had any systematic support
  • this was the first attempt to pull together methods and experiences and to find ways to give them visibility
  • there has been as a result of this work of this Pilot to share knowledge on this subject matter, been more attention to ex-ante and priority setting amongst those doing impact assessment

6. From the ICARDA Pilot Project ‘International Farmers Conference’ the story presented by Alessandra Galie was about—ksinr-synthesis-workshop-166

  • There was empowerment of women farmers through this process. For example Ruqeia a young female farmer was at first nervous to present her story but after she did she was congratulated by many participants of her good agricultural knowledge and skills. She then took the initiative to approach an FAO representative to ask for help on Integrated Pest Management which he had presented on.
  • The knowledge of women farmers was more appreciated and a greater recognition was gained in the institute that more efforts need to be made to include this in the Participatory Plant Breeding Program
  • The implementers became more aware of the fact that knowledge sharing approaches may need to be tailored to work with marginalised groups-thus it is necessary to refine approaches to be appropriate to varying types, uses, needs etc of knowledge by different groups.

For what happened next..stay tuned for the next blog post!

change-in-the-cgiarRecently I was introduced to Wordle, a tool for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text.

So one week from the CGIAR Annual General Meeting to be held in Maputo, I looked at the CGIAR Change management Blog and generated a “wordle”…to see what were the most prominent ideas discussed in the blog. I thought a simple image would give me at a glance an idea of what really mattered to people. I do not think the image needs much commenting. And this is the nice thing about the tool, at a glance you can see what matters to people.

Another example of how technology can help!

If you have not seen it yet, you may be interested in reading the reform proposalthat will be discussed at the Annual General Meeting.

Change ahead…an opportunity to renew!

Thanks Peter, who manages the road to the horizon for showing me this tool! Today I also found the wordle advanced version, where you can generate your own clouds by adding words and the weight. A real powerful way to show ideas!

ksinr-synthesis-workshop-137Day 2 of the Synthesis Workshop (17-19 November 2008) of the Knowledge Sharing in Research project was heavily focused on learning. Building on the previous day of review and reflection, Day 2 was aimed at a much more defined and in-depth evaluation process of the Pilot projects and other KSinR activities towards learning.ksinr-synthesis-workshop-132

The first exercise in the agenda was to look at the projects in terms of what happened, what didn’t, what went well, and what didn’t go well in terms of the changes planned and the strategies (KS approaches) used.

The participants all prepared answers to these questions to be presented back to the group. Time was given after each presentation for questions, comments and discussion.

Other activities held in Day 2 included:

  • Report-back by synthesizers
  • Most Significant Change(MSC) stories presented by each project
  • Fishbowl exercise with two ‘outsiders’ discussing the MSC stories and criteria for selecting ‘best’ ones
  • Matrix exercise to look at the bigger ‘Why’ question and meaning around using KSinR

Further posts will be made on these activities, and results of all Synthesis workshop exercises will be available soon on the KS website.

ksinr-synthesis-workshop-011In the Inception workshop for the Knowledge Sharing in Research project, the Project Leader and Pilot projects all used the Impact Pathways approach to look at the actors who were considered necessary in the network around the particular project with whom relationships should be changed, strengthened or made in order to achieve success in the project. Changes in the particular actors were made explicit as well as the particular strategy which would be employed to bring this about.

In the recently held Synthesis workshop fo the project, all Pilot Projects were asked to revisit this concept by filling out an Outcome Logic Model table.

The Outcomes Logic Model asked participants to consider:

  • what actors were involved/influenced in the project
  • what changes occurred in them
  • what strategy was used to bring about such change
  • percentage completed or next steps to continue working on a particular actor’s change

ksinr-synthesis-workshop-108Each participant filled in the table and presented it either as a flip chart, on their computers or by speaking about it.

In the Knowledge Sharing in Research project’s Synthesis Workshop, held 17-19 November 2008 in Addisksinr-synthesis-workshop-040 Ababa, Ethiopia, a ‘River of Life’ exercise was used to facilitate the reviewing of all the KSinR Pilotksinr-synthesis-workshop-033 Projects and KSinR project.

In the River of Life exercise, all participants were asked to visualise their projectsksinr-synthesis-workshop-036 using a river metaphor. Using flip chart sheets stuck together, the projects were asked to draw a ‘river’ depicting the ‘life’ of their project including:ksinr-synthesis-workshop-035

  • activities
  • outputs
  • outcomesksinr-synthesis-workshop-054

This exercise was meant to facilitate the remembering, showing and documenting of allksinr-synthesis-workshop-039 that has happened in the projects, which is often difficult, through drawing rather than listing.

The ‘river’ metaphor also helped people to consider the logical flow along the project, showing the source, where there may have been some turbulence (rapids), certain branches which did not pan out, parallel streams of activities…and more.

While drawing the River of Life by each project, Sophie Alvarez and Boru Douthwaithe provided some suggestions and motivations to the projects in depicting their projects.

Once the drawing were finished these were mounted on the walls and pinboards around the room.ksinr-synthesis-workshop-102

Each Project was then asked to present their ‘River of Life’ to the group, explaining what had happened, what outputs were produced and what outcomes they thought had occurred.



ksinr-synthesis-workshop-013One of the first exercises at the recently held Knowledge Sharing in Research(KSinR) project’s Synthesis Workshop was to ask the participants what their expectations of the workshop were.

The participants were asked to write these on cards.

The cards were then read out and Nadia Manning-Thomas, Project Leader of the KSinR project was asked to say whether the particular expectation:

* Will be Achieved

* Maybe achieved

* Will NOT be achieved

The cards were then arranged on a pin board under the 3 categories-see photo to the right.

None of the expectations were considered to be not achievable in the workshop.

This board was referred to throughout the workshop to make sure the workshop was on track with meeting the needs and priorities of all involved.

ksinr-synthesis-workshop-0191 The Knowledge Sharing in Research project’s Synthesis Workshop, held 17-19th November 2008 on ILRI Campus, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was designed to bring together the Pilot Projects (6) and those working on the umbrella project (KSinR) to carry out a number of activities to look back over the project activities to better understand them and to capture lessons.

ksinr-synthesis-workshop-020The workshop followed the roadmap seen in the picture to the left over the three days of the workshop to enable the achievement of a number of objectives–listed in photo to the right.

The workshop used a number of key approaches to help facilitate review, discussions, evaluation and documentation including:

  • Participatory Impact Pathway Analysis
  • River of Life exercise
  • Most Significant Change
  • Peer Assist
  • Card sorting exercises
  • Matrix approach

…and how the workshop roadmap intended to achieve the objectives is shown below.


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