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IFAD NEPAL KNOWLEDGE EVENT 2014 - BRIEF REPORT

Our concerted effort for agricultural development; Along with the stories, hopes and experiences of farmers

IFAD NEPAL KNOWLEDGE EVENT 2014 - BRIEF REPORT
Kaushal Shrestha 
 
The first IFAD Nepal Knowledge Event was held on a rainy October 13 afternoon, in Kathmandu, in the presence of almost 100 participants, including Mr. Jaya Mukunda Khanal, respected Secretary at the Ministry of Agricultural Development, and the Chief Guest of the event. With the main objective of sharing the experiences of IFAD investments in Nepal with key stakeholders, the first session of the Event followed the agenda of a brief introduction by Project Managers, presentations by beneficiaries on project impacts, ending with screenings of short project documentaries. The Event then opened to project booths and an exhibition of photographs, alongside refreshments and informal discussions.
SUCCESSES, FAILURES, AND OPPORTUNITIES
Given this was IFAD’s first effort at organizing a knowledge-sharing programme, the Event was a fair success. However, various realisations were made before, during and after the Event, with much to improve for the next attempt.
 
A Fair Success
Platform created for sharing. With almost one hundred participants present throughout the event, the projects and the beneficiaries had the opportunity to present their issues and concerns to a large audience. Project beneficiaries used this platform to share their thoughts on the impacts made by the projects, but also to share their expectations from the projects, and their hopes for the future.
 
Inter-project interactions.
Facing various disbursement, procurement and human resource issues, 
project members rarely find opportunities to know each other in the absence of work pressure. At the event, however, participants were seen sharing personal issues, their difficulties and experiences in preparing for the Event, their criticisms of the Event, and taking group photos as project teams, friends and colleagues. Similar to the Country Programme Workshop, the Knowledge Event provided an encouraging environment for informal discussions and socialization between staff members of 
different projects. 
 
Engagement of the Chief Guest.
The programme took interesting but unplanned turns when presentations by the beneficiaries transformed into conversations between the Chief Guest and the 
beneficiaries. At this event, he acknowledged, a glimpse of the field was present to provide him with first hand accounts. This prompted Mr. Khanal, who seldom has time to visit the field to monitor activities, to engage the presenters and pose several questions.
 
The Issues - Session I
 
Poor Government representation.
A major attempt of the Event was to strengthen IFAD’s relationship with the Government of Nepal, for improved coordination and collaboration. With 44 GoN 
members invited to the Event, the goal was to expose IFAD initiatives and to provide projects andbeneficiaries direct access to the representatives to share their issues and concerns. However, very few were able to participate due to prior commitments, resulting in an uncontrollable but major loss. Long routine. A conscious effort was made to reduce the duration as much as possible by excluding 
Powerpoint presentations and limiting documentary lengths to around 10 minutes each. However still, the first session lasted around 2.5 hours without breaks, with majority of the time taken by project films. Though the participants were surprisingly patient, attentions were easily lost, and energy during the second session was low. 
 
Non-interactive.
The first session did not allocate time for discussions or questions and answers
after the presentations. Therefore, with the exception of the questions raised by the Chief Guest and the CPO to some beneficiaries, majority of the session was non-interactive.
 
Non-critical.
With the exception of few issues raised by beneficiaries, majority of the presentations, particularly the project documentaries, were only positive portrayals of project activities. In response, the Chief Guest, in his closing speech, clearly stated his curiosity and eagerness to know the failures and the challenges as well.
 
The Issues - Session II
 
Closed.
The second session was originally intended as an outdoor event, in the garden of the venue, with booths and photographs open to anyone interested. However, untimely October rains in Kathmandu forced the session indoors, restricting spontaneous participants. Venue staff members, many of them farmers, were very interested but hesitant to participate or engage in their uniforms.
 
Bored beneficiaries.
While beneficiaries were not among the major targeted participants of the 
Event, there was little of interest for the few who were invited. The products shared at the Event were not designed or intended for the beneficiaries, with majority printed in English. 
 
Uneven quality.
The quality of knowledge products submitted, particularly photographs, were poor 
and uneven, highlighting the need for consistent documentation of project activities. As a result, not all project documentaries could be screened, and many photographs exhibited were sourced from the IFAD Country Office and not the projects.
 
Opportunities for the next Event
• Compile a single documentary of all IFAD initiatives, with English subtitles, no more than 15 minutes, similar to the PAF film presenting 7 success stories from 7 districts in 14 minutes
• Improve documentary’s focus on field knowledge by field stakeholders, as opposed to interviews with project managers and members
• Ensure a more critical and reflective portrayal of project activities, true to ground realities
• Dedicate time for discussions and QA sessions post presentations
• Develop and share knowledge products for all stakeholders, including farmers - agriculture handbooks, livestock guidelines, organic agriculture guidelines, and others
• Exhibit materials produced by external entities such as news articles and editorials
• Request and collect knowledge products months ahead of time, to ensure a certain quality and to make selections collectively and inclusively (set up a yearly practice of collecting a gallery of photos and videos of each project)
• Schedule the fair/exhibit first if the documentary session is expected to be long
• Continue to plan the event outdoors, in ways to encourage spontaneous participation
• Persist to improve GoN representation, at least for the session of presentation and discussion 
• Persist to improve media representation 
• Request project members for help on specific tasks, particularly with invitations, with their matured relationships with community organisations and media partners
 
Draft Agenda 
CONCLUSION
The concept of knowledge management (KM) is fairly new among IFAD-funded programmes in Nepal. With High Value Agriculture Project (2010-2017) as the first project to have KM as a separate component managed by a dedicated officer, KM has gained support and is gradually being integrated into project activities. However, there is much to improve. Even though very few GoN representatives were able to participate in this Knowledge Event, the fact that the Secretary of MoAD participated through the entire event, engaging and posing questions to 
beneficiaries, is a very positive outcome that can contribute significantly towards improved coordination and collaboration with the Ministry of Agricultural Development. Further, inspired by the IFAD Knowledge Event, the High Value Agriculture Project has committed to it’s own project level knowledge event involving regional stakeholders.Therefore, organized with the aim of sharing and appreciating the knowledge, experiences and innovations within the IFAD country programme, this Event has helped the portfolio take one step ahead in realising the importance and value of effective KM. 
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