Applications being accepted for CSDi Summer Academy 2011

Join us in July for an intensive series of courses with other students from all over the world.

If you are returning student, take a course that you haven’t taken before.

Or, use this opportunity to begin with the first course of a community-based adaptation to climate change certificate program—or an Integrated CBA, DRR, & Rural Development diploma program.

The first course of either program begins on July 12 and is:
OL 341. Community-Based Adaptation to Climate Change 1

Upcoming Online Development Courses: July 2011


STEP 1. Enroll in the first course of this series: OL 341.
Required Foundation Courses. These four courses are taken in sequence prior to enrolling in elective courses.

341 Community Based Adaptation 1: July 12 – September 5. Gain an insight into contemporary methods of developing community based, sustainable, impact-oriented projects. Gain practical field tools and develop a range of skills: facilitating participatory needs assessments and DRR assessments, designing projects, and evidence-based activities. Develop a real project in real time.

342 Community Based Adaptation: Planning for Impact. July 12 – August 22. Imbed impact into your adaptation project design with a powerful set of management tools. Log frames, detailed budgets, timelines, compelling fact sheets, M&E plans, outcomes and impact. These tools will communicate to donors and stakeholders exactly what you are trying to accomplish and can be used for effective management of the project once funded.

343 Community Based Adaptation 3: The Community Focus. September 6 – October 31. What does climate change adaptation mean at the community level? What practical tools are available today for communities to use in adaptation and in DRR? Conduct a baseline survey including climate vulnerability, risk assessment, an adaptation capacity analysis, and gain an understanding of local knowledge of a changing climate and of coping strategies. For practitioners who wish to begin working now at the community level to successfully adapt to the challenges that face us.

344 Community Based Adaptation 4: Sustainable Implementation. November 8 – December 19. How do you launch and implement a community based adaptation/DRR project? The importance of community engagement and project co-management. Developing skill sets for your community to use in the adaptation process. Learning tools: monitoring & evaluation. Community empowerment during project hand-over. Sustainability, follow-up & mentoring

Elective Courses. Enroll in four of these elective courses.
After successful completion of the four prerequisite courses above, you will be invited to enroll in elective courses. Select four electives of your choice to tailor the diploma program to meet your needs and interests.

OL 303. Food Security, Nutrition, and Starting Home Gardens 1
OL 304. Food Security, Nutrition and Managing Home Gardens 2
OL 224. Participatory M&E
OL 345. Community Based Disaster Risk Assessment, Preparedness and Management
OL 346. Small Island Developing States and Climate Change
OL 326. Developing Livelihood Resilience in your CBA project.
OL 332. Water Conservation and Management in your CBA project.
OL 333. Improved, Integrated Agricultural Practices for your CBA project.
OL 334. Incorporating REDD+ and Forest Stewardship into your CBA project.
OL 202. Impact Analysis

Community Based Adaptation brings together those working in the fields of disaster risk reduction, community development, and climate change science. Community Based Adaptation draws on participatory approaches and methods developed in both disaster risk reduction and community development work. CBA needs to start with community expressed needs and perceptions, and have poverty reduction and livelihood benefits, as well as reducing vulnerability to climate change and disasters. In practice, CBA projects look very like ‘development as usual’ and it is difficult to distinguish the additional ‘adaptation components’.
IIED: PLA Community Based Adaptation to Climate Change.

Expanded information on elective courses.

Find out more about this Online Diploma Course.

Be sure to visit the CSDi’s Development Community. Join 450 colleagues in sharing resources & collaborating online.

Like us: CSDi Facebook.

Learn how to develop a community centered, impact oriented project.

Hunger: Not enough food, the wrong food, or climate change?

Hunger: Not enough food, the wrong food, or climate change?
August 2010 Newsletter

This Month’s News
Community-Based Adaptation to Climate Change: A Module of Four Online Courses Begins in September
OL 341. Adapting to Climate Change: Designing & Funding Community-Based Adaptation Projects.
OL 342. Adapting to Climate Change: Planning for Impact.
OL 343. Adapting to Climate Change: The Community Focus.
OL 344. Adapting to Climate Change: Sustainable Implementation.

Module 100: Creating a World Class Project
OL 101. From the Ground Up: Designing and Funding Sustainable Development Projects
OL 102. Project Architecture: Managing for Impact

200 people from over 50 countries have joined the new CSDi Development Community. Colleagues are actively exchanging information on adapting to climate change, food security, participation, conservation, health and hygiene, governance – and host of other topics. People from 169 different countries have visited the web site in the past 60 days.

Job Opportunity: Director de Programas Para Centroamérica y México – based in Quetzaltenango. Ecologic Development Fund works with poor, rural communities to conserve and restore forests, watersheds and wetlands in ways that improve people’s lives. Convocatoria.

Fan us on Facebook. Please visit our new Facebook Page – CSDi Development Community. We are looking for a volunteer savvy in social networking to moderate this site. Please contact us here: .

Hunger: Not enough food, the wrong food, or climate change?
I’m learning more from my online students than they are for me and that’s a fact. They give me a window into their worlds and the problems and challenges that their countries face. Two thirds of student projects relate to water, or food—however, many of these seem to be suspiciously linked to climate change.

For example, here is a very well done article “Climate Extremes Fuel Hunger in Guatemala” that illustrates these interrelationships between food, water and climate change.

I’m fortunate to have two students who are climate change specialists from the Inter-American Development Bank here in Guatemala. They are working on a climate change adaptation project researching declining yields in subsistence crops and widespread under nutrition in the Department of Izabal—in conjunction with the Ministry of the Environment, MARN.

Another example of this seamless interface between water, food and climate change, comes from a partnership of four students – one in Columbia, one in Germany, one in Nigeria, and a Guatemalteca living in Washington DC – that are focusing on an adaptation project in Colombia dealing with low agricultural productivity caused by changes in temperature and changes in the distribution, frequency and intensity of rain.

What’s absolutely fascinating to me is that I have students that are investigating projects relating to chronic malnutrition in one course and students that are investigating projects on adapting to climate change in a different course—and with the seamless interface between their project themes—sometimes I get the classes mixed up!

Food security exists when people have enough basic food at all times to provide them with energy and nutrients for fully productive lives. In Guatemala, there are regions where food security is chronic, and areas where it’s seasonal. For example, the November maize harvest frequently isn’t large enough for a family and the harvest runs out by August creating a four month period of food insecurity. In other areas of Guatemala, chronic under nutrition runs the calendar year.

Sadly, another side of under nutrition relates to food diversity. Families may have enough of their staple crop to see them through the year, but they’re lacking vital vitamins and minerals. These come from eating a variety of foods that will provide essential fats, proteins, vitamins, and micronutrients. Chronic under nutrition can lead to stunting and children—lack of physical and mental development.

Two course participants, John Bosco Odongo in Western Kenya, and Conrad Otterness in North Carolina, are working to solve this problem on the northern shores of Lake Victoria, and sent me an assignment last week that is very well done that I would like to share. John and Conrad have partnered in our course, ‘Food Security, Nutrition and Home Gardens’.

In this course students are required to perform three baseline surveys within their communities: one on food security, one on food diversity, and one on home garden capacity. This information will help them better plan and launch a home gardening project and will also give them a baseline to compare to in a year to see if they’re having impact. John and Conrad’s assessments showed a severe level of food insecurity and low dietary diversity in their community. Further, unusually strong rains that began in 1997 have regularly flooded farm fields undermining farming activity and contributing to the food insecurity.

One of the single biggest contributing factors to under nutrition that we have discovered is a simple lack of knowledge of basic nutrition on the part of community members. Consequently, after gaining a better sense of where the community is nutritionally, students facilitate a four-hour community workshop on the basics of nutrition and how home gardens can increase both food security and food diversity for families.

As part of the workshop they prepare a luncheon for the group made up of nutritious food that can be grown in home gardens as an example of the delicious meals that can be made out of garden produce. John and Conrad did an exemplary job in their assignment as evidenced by the photos they sent.

In summary, under nutrition can be based on food shortages, or not eating the right things. And both of these two challenges can be exacerbated by climate change. You can learn more about these topics by visiting our food security working group and our adapting to climate change working group at our Development Community.

Enjoy the vacation month of August, I’ll see you again in September.

Tim Magee

Vision, Expertise, Performance & Impact: 4 New Online Courses

May: Vision, Expertise, Performance & Impact — and 4 new courses coming online

Vision, Expertise, Performance & Impact
May 2010 Newsletter

This Month’s Online Courses
We are offering our course ‘From the Ground Up’ again in May; participants from 62 countries are have enrolled in our courses since January. See what students are saying. There are still a few remaining places in May’s course “From the Ground Up”.

New Online Learning Summer/Fall Catalogue
Our catalogue includes courses in Sustainability, Funding, Climate Change, Organizational Development, and Food Security.

OL 141.
Getting the Job Done: Your Organization’s Vision, Expertise & Performance
Create a Strategic Action Plan that shows where you are now, where you want to go and what actions to take for getting there.

OL 142. From Local Actor to International Professional: Aligning Your Organization to the World of Impact
The importance of impact, what works in development, using global resources for impact-oriented programming models.

Food Security, Nutrition and Home Gardens 1: Introducing sustainable, nutritious food gardens to communities
What is Food Security; good nutrition? What works in developing family garden projects that support them?

304. Food Security, Nutrition and Home Gardens 2: Weeds, bugs, compost, nutrition, recipes, kitchen hygiene and healthy kids.
Caring for food gardens. Combing produce with daily staples for nutritious, vitamin, protein & micronutrient filled meals.

Vision, Expertise, Performance & Impact
My friend Carl and I were having a cup of coffee. Carl runs one of the more effective NGOs in Guatemala. He was frustrated because the board wanted him to move in one direction, the founder had an agenda, and his staff was disgruntled. Carl felt he was being pulled in too many directions. On top of that, he that didn’t feel that they were practicing squeaky-clean, good development.

The founder was very top-down, at a time when Carl saw that the bottom-up tended to create more sustainable projects. The board members each had their own pet projects that they liked to promote – but none of them had a background in development. Many of his staff members didn’t really feel part of the team.

Sound familiar? This storyline seems to be the mantra of many executive directors that I work with. And, on top of it all, they are all running like crazy to keep up and don’t have the time to address these issues. What they need are solutions that don’t take much time to implement, can be done inexpensively, and will work the first time. They need silver bullets.

Here are the questions that I ask in an effort free up the logjam.
1. Where do you want to go?
2. Where are you now?
3. What do you need to do to get from where you are to where you want to go?

Over the years I have put together a plan of activities for NGOs to use to find the answers to 1, 2 and 3 above.

1. Your organization’s vision.
Properly done, a one day staff retreat can get everyone sharing a common vision. By staff, I mean almost everyone: field staff, grant writers, program managers, and admin staff. If the executive director has a strong personality (not a bad thing at all by the way, but staff may not be as open during discussions with the boss there), I may suggest that they let me be their proxy at the retreat. I might also suggest that one, understated board member attend in order to get a good sense of what’s happening on-the-ground.

I like to ask each member of the team to express what it is that the organization does. We hang a HUGE piece of paper on the wall and let them begin illustrating their vision of what the organization does – and what their role is. Properly facilitated, the group begins to assemble a map of the organization. Many people in organizations don’t really know what the vision is. Interestingly, because of this, they sometimes have the best insights!

During the course of the day, a group vision begins to emerge. Typically, it isn’t too far off the mark, but several great things come out of this process:
1. Ownership. They developed this vision – and it’s theirs!
2. Teamwork. They developed the vision together.
3. New information. Often new ideas come up: solutions to problems, new opportunities to look at, a new turn that makes the vision compelling.
4. A sense of place. The bookkeeper realizes that he is an important piece of the puzzle. Field staff that don’t get into the main office much realize how important they are in fulfilling the organizational goals.

2. Where are we now?
I’m big on low-hanging fruit. Frequently problems have simple, cost effective, easy to implement solutions. After the vision retreat, one can make appointments with the individual participants. Are they comfortable with how their department is working to fulfill the organizational vision? If not, what do they see that is missing – or that needs to be done to get on track? I am continually surprised that after interviewing staff at organizations, solutions tend to fall into a series of common areas.

a. A shared organizational vision.
b. An organizational strategy for fulfilling that vision
c. Who does it? Do they have the training and experience to do it?
d. Do they have all of the information that they need to do it right?
e. Do they have the resources to get on with the job – and are the resources where they need to be – and at the right time?
f. Are project partners aligned to the goal (donors, beneficiaries, partnering NGOs)?
g. Is there a learning plan in place? Are they able to see if projects are working? Do they have the information to make corrections en route?
h. Is there an end to the project and a well planned hand-over to the community?
i. Is there a final wrap-up report with clear communication about the learning process with all of the staff & stakeholders?

3. How do we get to where we want to go?
This can look positively daunting – but it doesn’t need to be. Each one of the questions above has a solution; the trick is to phase the solutions. The first solutions should be the low hanging fruit: identify the simplest solutions that are going to have the biggest immediate impact.

For example, documenting implementation procedures does not mean that the Program Manager needs to take a three month sabbatical to do this. A simpler solution is to begin gathering day-to-day project information and stick it in a folder – or a three-ring notebook. Knowing where to find it when you need it is the big part of the battle – and this is a quick solution.

So here are some simple, approachable solutions to the questions above:
Define Implementation Strategy
Define the project design team and the project implementation team – and delineate their responsibilities

Package the Program Strategy: Discover how to quickly assemble outline drafts of:
Staff handbook on project management, community engagement and participation
Staff handbook for your standard products and interventions
Lesson plans and workshop materials for field staff to use in community workshops; Take-home learning materials for beneficiaries

Identify what types of training you need now
Determine training that your staff is requesting and find where they can get it

Funding and Community Support
Do you have a simple funding plan?
Define the size of a typical proposal
Do you have a fundraising and proposal writing team?
Do you have a list of appropriate donors to approach?

Developing trusting relationships with the community
Do you engage field staff members that are from the same culture/language group as the beneficiaries?
Are you providing field staff with handbooks, manuals and copies of project budgets, logframes and schedules?
Do you have a community feedback mechanism that allows field staff to know if information is understood and appreciated?
Do you ensure that the community is ready to take over at the end of a project?
Are mentoring and follow-up are in place?

Packaging your Strategic Action Plan
Where did you find gaps in fulfilling your organizational vision, program strategies and sustainability?
Prioritizing in two levels: which actions are going to have the most immediate impact and which actions do you have the resources to do today?

Getting started:
Information gathering about dreams and reality is the first step. A facilitator is the way to go. They will be able to solicit information and ideas without intimidating staff and stakeholders. The facilitator should be a person who is not an authority figure in the organization. If you are the executive director, don’t fool yourself into thinking that you can switch hats and suddenly, for a day, be someone different who can facilitate a sensitive workshop.

Half-day or full-day retreats, away from the office, can be tremendously productive. Follow-up meetings with the individuals can clarify specifics.

A matrix to receive the information in order to analyze it and organize it for an action plan is also a must.

As an executive director, receiving the information with an open, positive frame of mind is a necessity. Implementing affordable solution activities represents the path to change.

If you don’t have the resources to work with a consultant, consider taking one of our online courses on project development or organizational development.

See you next month!

Tim Magee

The 62 Countries:
Australia, Argentina, Bangladesh, Benin, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Chad, China, Columbia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Ethiopia , France, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Kenya, Lebanon, Liberia, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Peru, Qatar, Rwanda, Serbia, Somalia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Trinidad & Tobago W.I., Turkey, Uganda, UK, Ukraine, United States, Venezuela, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.