Thursday, May 25, 2006

Working with MoFA

Working with the office here for the past...almost 2 weeks now, has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride. I've experience days of inefficiency and frustration, but at times found myself to have been more productive in one hour than in the previous few days. It's all about timing - who's around, and if they're available when you need to speak to them; but mostly, it's been about fitting myself into existing schedules and having everything planned out for myself well in advance! This is mostly because I've noticed that not everyone comes into work everyday. Even in the time I've been here, there are still some co-workers that I haven't had the pleasure to meet, let alone relax with and chat for a while.

I've had a chance to get to know a few key members of the MoFA staff: the Director, Dr. Sallah; the Deputy Director, Mr. Ahmed Adam (who under the new structure is actual the DAO of Extension - that's District Agricultural Officer of Extension); Mr. Mills, the DAO of MIS (Management Information Systems); and Mr. S.K. Fiatuho, the Veterinary DAO. We've discussed
- Their backgrounds: what kind of schooling they've received, how long they've been with MoFa
- Their work: what projects they focus on, who reports back to them, their day to day responsibilities
- and personal information as well.

I find that I learn the most when we just have an informal discussion. I was thoroughly impressed at the extent of knowledge they each possess about agriculture and their respective positions. For instance, Mr. Ahmed Adam (who is also my counterpart while I am working here), received his education in Agriculture, focusing on Extension. This means he has a background in adult education, facilitation skills, etc. Seeing as he is also responsible for training most of the AEA's, these skills are also passed on to the frontline workers!

Since adult education and facilitation was one of the things I'm here to work on, I'm extremely excited to be working with Mr. Ahmed throughout the summer. And his contagious enthusiasm for learning, and working with me every step of the way makes me confident that my efforts will be continued on even after I've left. It's so thrilling to know that my actions are being taken seriously, and that with Mr. Ahmed's help, I'll be able to have a real impact here at the office. And not only that, with all the training I've had in AE (adult education) and whatnot, I'm sure that in some respects I'll be the one learning from Mr. Ahmed!

I've been a bit out of touch lately - sorry! So the above was actually written a while back and saved as a draft. Since then, I've had more opportunities to see how the staff at the office interact with each other, and gotten a better grasp on the structure and dynamic of the DADU (District Agricultural Development Unit). Much of this knowledge has been gained from just speaking with individuals, attending meetings on all levels, and going through the many reports compiled monthly, quarterly or annually.

The project, as outlined by Robin (our long term volunteer) for the pilot project done in Yendi a few months ago, focuses on 3 main areas that I discussed in the MoFA blog entry. In a nutshell, there is in-office consulting, re-activating the District Food Security Network (DFSN) and facilitating workshops on adult education and RBM (results-based management) to help build capacity. While I've done a bit of consulting - and identified which areas consulting would be the most sustainable - I've mostly been focusing my time lately on the DFSN. This would be because the first meeting is being held this coming Wed., June 21. I can't tell you how excited I am!! Mostly, I've been visiting a number of GOs, NGOs, FBOs, CBOs...etc. to invite them, and discuss food security issues. There will be a whole food security blog after the meeting, so stay tuned!

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