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June 23, 2019

CoP session in SHOUHARDO III: My Observation

Written By Md. Hasibur Rahman,Senior Learning and Communication Officer

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Strengthening Household Ability to Respond to Development Opportunities (SHOUHARDO) III program, funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Government of Bangladesh (GoB), held its very first Community of Practice session on April 4, 2019. Though it was planned to conduct CoP session at Sirajganj Field Office (SFO) of CARE Bangladesh, but at last moment we had to make a change in the plan. Because of M&E workshop at NDP office, partner non-government organization of CARE, all the staffs were engaged there and we took the opportunity to get a huge gathering and reach all staffs (Program Managers (PMS), Upazila Coordinators (UCs), M&E Officers and Technical Officers (TOs)) at a time. So, we decided to conduct two sessions, one in NDP office and other in CARE SFO We have received a great response from the participants. On an average we had 25 to 30 persons in the sessions.

CoP Session at NDP Office:
Firstly, we briefed what CoP is. Then, we asked to pick a topic that they thought to be discussed and most of them face at the time of implementing program activities. One of the UCs raised a topic that they face challenges to engage youths in training. Their challenge is that most of the youth participants show interest to get trained at the very first approach but they become reluctant to continue the training when it is for a month long. Some said that there is a challenge to make the participant realize the importance of getting trained and cost benefit of that. Many of them added reasons of the same challenge and at the same time some of them shared how they dealt with the challenge and made the participants feel interested and realize the importance and cost benefit of getting trained. Thus the session was going on and all the staffs shared their experiences and learnings. Most importantly they actively continued the dialogues. They were talking about other various issues of the program.
Though it was a very first session with the PNGO staffs, they felt that this can be a platform where they can share the issues specially failure cases and causes of failure which they do not share usually as there is no such platform.

CoP Session at CARE SFO:
There was also enthusiastic participation from the employees of CARE Sirajganj Field Office. Four of the technical managers were busy with their previously occupied schedule. Nevertheless, the participation was satisfactory. Initially, the session started with some random discussions but gradually they started discussing over various program activities. One of them said that it is very challenging to facilitate community consultation, Annual General Meeting and village grading in a working day. Then the discussion was accelerated when others joined and some of them recommended how to mitigate the challenge. The Regional Coordinator took the issue in consideration and suggested some initiatives to handle the challenge with more efficiency. Thus they continued the session over an hour.
All the participants in the session appreciated such initiative of CoP and they have been found interested to take part in the session like this.
One of the participants urged that this session should take place in every week. The participant also suggested that participation of all relevant employees of the program should be ensured (mandatorily) as she thinks that one can get enriched gathering the program knowledge and experiences and thus one can perform his responsibilities more efficiently.

My Observations:
1. As we found most of the participants interested, I think we should flourish CoP and give it a shape which can be modified or rectified on the basis of the opinions of the participants. Before that we have to give it a meaningful and attractive name.
2. From some informal discussions with some seniors here, I learnt that there were some forums previously but those did not sustain because those were very much formal and traditional. So, I think from the very beginning we should approach very strategically and innovatively so that CoP must add value to the participants as well as the program activities.
3. There may have informal modality of sharing but I think formal session should be conducted in regional office and/or PNGOs’ offices.

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