Scaling heights, anchoring pivot
A journey of many miles starts with the first step. Does this adage ring a bell? It sure does for the Maarifa Kona team. Each month provides new insights for us and it also shapes our outlook on this innovation path shuttled by the Disasters and Emergencies Preparedness Programme (DEPP). But it doesn’t stop there; It is also common for one to look back at the distance traveled, and to take stock of the progress, losses, missed opportunities or even some averted crises. How else would we know how far we have come and what to anticipate for the present and future? This where Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) comes in handy in programme management.
Granted, MEL is not a concept that would get a crowd worked up with excitement; a yawn or raised eyebrow might actually be the obvious reaction. However, it should never be dismissed. Tracking progress is vital in identifying the benefits and gaps in any activity. MEL enables all stakeholders to read from the same script and appreciate the dynamics that influence progressive change, whilst pointing out weak points for a further address.
This is the approach we adopted for our MEL training hosted at our Garissa Lab on 5 -6 July and the Marsabit Lab on 9 – 10 July. We appreciated the diversity amongst our 22 innovators (11 at each lab) and strived to guide them through the intrigues of community-centered research, innovation pivots necessitated by community/user feedback and progress assessments jointly undertaken with the lab teams.
Certainly, a few of the innovators had a few ‘head-scratching’ moments in between the sessions however in the end, resounding clarity was achieved.
“I learned that to have a wider impact, I have to focus,” said one innovator. “It is important to identify the challenges of a product and the steps to mitigate,” added another innovator.
The MEL training marked the official commencement of the Research and Concepts phase of the Maarifa Kona innovation process. This phase will run for a period of 7 weeks. During this time, we will strive to help our innovators modify their ideas from continuous feedback from target groups as well as link them to mentors, who will expand their thinking on the practicality of each solution from the validated community needs.
“I need to be more aggressive, daring, unique as I think about the solution,” proclaimed one innovator.
We believe that there is great potential in every novel idea, however, such potential will be realized through timely execution based on appropriate contexts and eliciting collaboration in its application. These ingredients will be added to our innovation pot in the coming weeks.