The 2015 ICA East Africa Gathering was organized by ICA USA and ICA Tanzania. The conference was paid for by ICA USA donor Ruth Reames and a mini grant from ICAI. In 2011 ICA USA staff had visited several East African ICAs and asked what the ICAs thought would be most helpful in building their capacity. Methods training for newer staff, and increased connections among ICAs were high on the list. Thus the idea for the conference was born. Although a gathering like this is not new in ICA’s longer term history, in more recent history the practice of gathering has been neglected due to limited capacity and time of ICAs to come together to share.
Some notable mentions from the gathering:
- There was an energizer before any new presenter, this kept the group alive and gave participants plenty new things to add to their energizer toolkit.
- End of the day and beginning of the day reflections were led by someone new each time.
- The use of open space to plan the trainings/workshop components of the conference allowed for both enough flexibility and enough structure
- During the Strategic Planning session for the region, it was helpful to have facilitators from outside the region, so that all local parties could participate
- There was a lot of requests to get clarity on what ‘ICA values’ are. The conference had a conversation around a 4×4 chart created by Terry Bergdall. More specifically, the row of ‘What ICA thinks’ column of the document. The conversation was one that could have continued a long time and conference attendees wanted to schedule more time in the future to get clarity on ICA values.
- Among ICA staff in E. Africa, old and new, there is varying levels of understanding and historical context about the ICA overall, and about ICAI. More time and energy spent on getting everyone in our network up to speed on where we have been and how it landed us where we are is not only helpful, but provides a great platform to talk about where we as a network want to go next.
- Beyond historical data, there was a present lack of understanding among ICAs around where ICAI is now, what happened in 2010 to restructure it, and what that means for ICAs who were used to ICAI support in seeking out funding for ICAs. Communication structures need to be more transparent when such organizational shifts occur as to not leave members without adequate internet access / communication tools in the dark.
- A ‘ah-ha’ moment in the contradictions workshop of the strategic planning discussed for ICAs can be seen as competitors with one another, instead of collaborators, due to many different reasons, but the larger context of how the development field works, and because of lack of opportunities to work and build trust with one another. It was a great conversation, and led to a lot of clarity and understanding on why ICAs, or method-users in the same country often don’t collaborate, and laid the groundwork for how that might be able to change.
- The conference ended with a celebratory evening, including local dancers, and an exercise where everyone pulled a name of someone else and had to say something they had come to learn and enjoy about them in the past week
This post was first published in the Global Buzz, July 2015.