A new MRDF fund has enabled two partner organisations in Africa to organise a capacity building exchange.
In September 2012, MRDF’s ‘Strength to Strength’ conference in Uganda provided MRDF partners from 13 countries with the opportunity to learn from each other, share experiences and be inspired by new ideas and approaches. Following feedback from partners at the conference, MRDF established The Network Challenge Fund. This new fund supports partner organisations to undertake their own exchange visits and continue to share good practice.
MRDF Programmes Team Leader Nick Burn comments: ‘Past experience has shown that exchange visits are a rich learning experience. They give staff invaluable insight into how another organisation has addressed issues they themselves face. They can explore how to tackle these practically, hear about the problems they may encounter and how to overcome them’.
From Cameroon to Uganda
Two partners that have just completed a successful exchange are Community Development Volunteers for Technical Assistance (CDVTA) and Voluntary Action for Development (VAD). CDVTA is an innovative project to support and empower elderly people in remote areas of North West Cameroon whilst VAD works to improve health in rural Uganda through education and the construction of water and sanitation facilities.
Back in February four staff members from CDVTA travelled to Uganda to visit VAD for a six day networking visit. The planned exchanged aimed for the partners to share expertise in governance and managing projects.
When planning for the exchange, Francis Njuakom Nchii, Director of CDVTA, said ‘This is a unique opportunity to improve the working capacity of our staff, enable them acquire first hand experience, skills and knowledge through project visits, interaction with VAD staff and learning from best practices of VAD.’
After a week of meeting staff, visiting projects and sharing the staff from CDTVA returned to Cameroon feeling invigorated and excited to continue their work.
When reflecting on the trip Francis said ‘the experiences and skills we have got from VAD, have made us more humble, more encouraged and more determined to serve our poor, disadvantaged elderly people and communities better than we did before.’
VAD’s experience in water and sanitation provision was of great interest to CDTVA who have just began to work in this way with primary schools, local communities and the elderly. Similarly CDVTA’s advocacy strategy in support of elderly rights and social mobilization in Cameroon has been very successful and this was one of the main areas of shared learning.
MRDF Programme Manager Guillaume Debar, who supported the exchange, comments: ‘At MRDF, we believe that capacity building activities such as exchange visits between NGOs contribute to a more effective civil society response to the needs of vulnerable communities.’
MRDF partners in Mali and Togo are currently planning exchange visits to take place in the next few months, also supported by the Network Challenge Fund.
Want to know more?
Learn about CDVTA’s advocacy work with elderly people in Cameroon
Support VAD’s work in Uganda through the Partner a Project Scheme