Mar 10, 2009
Back at the IICD office, it is now time to evaluate my first trip to Zambia. As the new officer for the Capacity Developme...
Back at the IICD office, it is now time to evaluate my first trip to Zambia. As the new officer for the Capacity Development Programme in Zambia I had two objectives: have a general face to face introduction with most of IICD’s project partners and also have some practical insights of the main challenges identified since I came on board.
Going to Zambia for the first time means switching from your daily office work into a more human approach, where names and roles within organisations become real people with actual needs to address. Suddenly, the project proposals you have read until now on paper and couldn't talk are now able to tell you their achievements and future steps.
I spent the first week of my trip in Lusaka. The tight agenda started early in the morning every day. Breakfast at 7:30 AM and jump into the taxi to the first meeting. On the way to the partner office, my colleague Olaf Erz and I discussed the main points of the meeting so we both knew what to expect. Once arrived, the introductions took place and discussions were initiated. My role is to, once the project is started, follow the project partners’ needs in terms of capacity building and assist them in the best way possible to realise their plans. Depending on the project goals, we use different methodologies so our partners get empowered with appropriate technical skills: technical update seminars, on-the-job training or train-the-trainer workshops are different approaches used within IICD. When the project uses tailored ICT tools that have to be developed, a partnership with other local organisations is used so the capacity is built on and for the country.
Although most of the locations I went to were in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, I also traveled to the Western province to meet with the project staff of the Home-Base Care Programme in Mongu. At this moment, staff is being trained in order to use a new information and communication technology (ICT) tool that allows them to record medical information of the patients they visit. Until now, an obsolete system based on hard-copies was used to manage their clinical history and treatments.
In the second week, Saskia Harmsen, the former Officer Capacity Development for the Zambia Country Programme joined me. We had meetings with a number of partners in Lusaka and later went to Kitwe, in the Copperbelt province where a so called ‘Train the Trainer’ workshop was taking place. This workshop provides trainers with a better level of knowledge on how to incorporate technology within their projects, so a snowball effect can take place. During four days, twenty trainers from different IICD projects shared their experience and opinions about how to perform better needs assessments and to prepare better training plans. Although Saskia and I could only assist partially on the last day, I clearly saw how useful it is for people that work on the same goals, to meet up. Sharing and discussing challenges can be so powerful and encouraging!
Back in Lusaka the Open Source Zambian Initiative, an IICD supported network had organised a social gathering, also called “Installation Party”. Some members showed live installations on several Linux systems. Discussions about Open Source Software and its applications and social networking were there that night. It is surely encouraging to find young fellows gathering and sharing the open source case...
Saturday afternoon through Lusaka airport we left Zambia; back to The Netherlands. Once at Schiphol among thousands of busy people, only my slippers could remind me of Zambia,... until the next trip!