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Learning Capacity for Humanity

Monday, February 12, 2018 - 14:05

On Wednesday morning, I enthusiastically set to meet participants of the Capacity4Humanity Conference at the Training Centre for Development Cooperation (MSTCDC) in Arusha.

Make time to learn, connect and act were key issues emphasized by Chris Proulx, the Global Learning Director at Humentum as he concluded his opening remarks.

These sent a smile on my face as I was already anxious about the choice of sessions to attend.

The introduction of Adriano Campolina, ActionAid International General Secretary, the key note speaker, could hardly hold back the emotions that momentarily threatened to burst my rib cage just as I was unable to stop the hard-lump feeling that was quickly growing in my chest. It energized me to pick my phone and share with the world what is required to have capacity and learning for social justice.

For Adriano, being an activist as a student and part of the farmers’ movement was an aspect he could not over emphasize, it triggered a pointer on how we need to decolonize knowledge just as he had decolonized development in ActionAid federation with each member have 1 equal vote at the secretariat.

The list of issues influencing capacity building in the non-government organization sector constituted a rich compendium of experiences for mutual information sharing, an aspect that left many nodding their heads that there’s plenty of business unaccomplished. The pointer on erosion of fundamental of values of justice, internationalization, capacity building and key questions on the monitoring and evaluation of aid broadened the spectrum of the conversations that would follow. The comments, complements and questions were an indicator of how high profile the conference and participants were and how much value addition we were yet to receive from the rest of the sessions.

 The time for dilemma had come, deciding on what session to attend and what session to leave as all the sessions were equally fantastic.

At this moment, I thought maybe organizers and planners of conference wanted to catch some “flavours of Kilimanjaro too”.

I took a footstep to Kwame Nkurumah hall to catch up with raising standards in humanitarian responses by building core skills: a case study in which I had to sacrifice a capacity building journey: Gateway Academy case study; and creating a virtuous cycle: how organizational learning will make a stronger, happier staff. With fervor I looked to delivering my presentation. At exactly 1:20pm, I walked to hall again and saw a presentation projected and one critical question ran to my mind, will this ‘Valuing Local Perspectives: Lessons Learned from Participatory Reflection and Review Processes” make sense to the class of participants with examples of rural Uganda? Stranded with no alternative and the hall filled with experts,

I courageously picked the pointer to start the local lessons, quietness, concentration and listening was a gesture of surprise for the next 31 minutes rounded up by an applause. With excitement, I waited for the comments, clarifications and additions to the lessons, all indicating the presentation was relevant to the context. As the afternoon break materialized, a few “thank you” came through from participants that attended the session, my heart was full of joy. This was an impression that I had responded to some key issues emphasised at the conference opening and the key note address.


Two other sessions followed and the day was done. With a feeling of exhaustion, we proceeded to an evening reception to connect and network with other participants and organizations at a great cocktail in the serene gardens of MSTCDC. Smiles, jokes, sharing experiences and “a little swallow” were the order of the evening creating a comfort and refreshing. In a simple rotation of the earth, darkness was up, and soon the morning would be.

The spectacular second day was graced with a great panel on why capacity building initiatives fail, a point in which experts dissected to detail, the gaps, best practices and measures. This was very fulfilling and energizing, learning that we need to plan for the seventy percent of the learning that is individual and post the capacity building sessions. Session after session, presenter after presenter, the mood to learn, unlearn and relearn could be seen in everyone’s face as the time accelerated and the final session had come! Reflect, commit and act collectively on the future of learning was the objective. Soon, the conference was done and the participants refreshed, energized and set to rollout the new ideas, an of which can only be evaluated in the future! Bravo! Humentum, ActionAid, Civicus, MSTCDC and all the other collaborating organizations.

 (Written by Stanley Dennis Wobusobozi, ActionAid Uganda)