Community Media/ECONEWS/Preliminary Evaluation Report
THE PRELIMINARY EVALUATION REPORT OF THE ORGANISATION DEVELOPMENT PROCESS
“This workshop was serious and the decisions were respected. From what I have seen, they would be followed and implemented.” - Observations of EcoNews Africa Driver/ Logistics officer – James Njoroge
The words quoted above aptly captures the mood and the seriousness during the Organisation Development workshops. Coming from Njoroge, they have a ring of truth and facts borne out of the long experience of EcoNews Africa association with Radio Mang’elete and the umbrella body, Mang’elete Community Integrated Development Programme (MCIDP). James Njoroge is currently the longest serving staff member of EcoNews Africa having worked there since 1997. He has witnessed the establishment of Radio Mang’elete, participated in previous organisational development meetings and reflections for Radio Mang’elete, seen the internal organisational conflicts, the disorder and the confusion in the organisational structure and arrangements and the holding of elections that were not respected.
- The realisation by MCIDP and Radio Mang’elete stakeholders on the need of active engagement by external partners, such as EcoNews Africa and the Commonwealth of Learning, for the community projects to be sustainable and have the desired impact.
- The process of designing the training curriculum was participatory. The first step was a brainstorming session of the curriculum involving members of MCIDP, the staff at Radio Mang’elete and the indentified facilitators. The second step was the approval of the draft outline of the curriculum by the team and it’s posting on COL’s community media node for comments by the community media peer group. The third step was the ratification of the training curriculum and programme at the plenary before the start of the community workshops.
- Organising the workshops was done by community members. These included the identification of the venue, preparations of foods and drinks, accommodation arrangements, participants travel, security measures, fixing the cost of the supplies and services reflective of the approved budget heads, the hiring of casual volunteers to assist the exercise and many others tasks.
- The choice of the venue was strategic. The workshops were conducted in a local boarding school neighbouring Radio Mang’elete, not in a hotel in the nearby big town which is away from common community realities and experiences. This arrangement was appreciated by the participants as it was taken as respectable to the community based structures and utilised locally available human and material resources.
- The focus on the development of the umbrella body, MCIDP, was also of great importance and timely. This is due to the fact that the development, sustainability and harmony of Radio Mang’elete depends on the sustenance of the umbrella body. Radio Mang’elete cannot exist without the umbrella body, the same case with many other community projects. In addition, this put the community radio project at par with the other MCIDP projects such as the Seed Bank, Posho Mill, Health Centre, Borehole, the water project and several others. This also reinforced the idea that a community radio cannot exist in isolation of other community projects.
- The election of the new MCIDP Board of Directors and the appointment of the Radio Management Committee (RMC) was carried out openly and fairly. This women led leadership is comprised of the youth, the educated among them and two men. These officials were recognised and respected by the participants and the community. After the workshops, the RMC met to discuss and transact pending and urgent affairs of Radio Mang’elete.
- Organisational structure: Before the workshops, the organisational structure was unclear and confusing. The Chairlady of the then Local Management Committee, which managed the Radio, now replaced by the Radio Management Committee, had more authority and voice than the Chair of the umbrella body.
The Local Management Committee usually transacted the affairs of the Radio Project without any reference to MCIDP of which it belonged as one of its projects. The signatories of the Radio project account were independent from those of the umbrella body. This brought about the impression in the community and among MCIDP members of two independent organisations- MCIDP and Radio Mang’elete.
The arrangement agreed upon at the workshop has five signatories of the Radio Project account – The Chairperson, Secretary, Treasurer and a Director of the umbrella body and the Radio Station Manager. Any of the three may sign withdrawals from the radio project account, but the signature of the Station Manager shall be mandatory in all the transactions of the radio project.
The Radio Management Committee is comprised of five persons, two directors from MCIDP Board of Directors, Station Manager, Finance and Administration Manger and the Technical Manager.
This organisation structure is now reflective of MCIDP constitution, it is respected and workable. It has now been approved by the NGO Coordination Board as the existing Organisational Structure of MCIDP and Radio Mang’elete unless otherwise recommended by the MCIDP General Assembly.
Shortcomings and recommendations.
- The idea of holding the two workshops, that of the umbrella group development and the community radio strategic planning exercise, back to back in the same week, was not appropriate. Though this was meant to save and maximise the human resources available, especially the facilitators’, and the material resources, such as the classrooms and boarding facilities at the school which are only available when the students are away on holidays, it brought some noticeable fatigue and a sense of irritating repetition of some issues and ideas to the organisers, facilitators and the participants. This was more to those who had participated in the workshops from the beginning.
The apparent fatigue and sense of repetition quickened the paces of the workshops, sometimes at the expense of the full participation, comprehension and articulation of the ideas and issues by some participants and the logical actualisation of the training curriculum.
In like follow-up OD workshops, ample time should be set for the development of the training curriculum and in the preparation of the community workshops. If the two workshops are to be held at the same time, they should be spaced for not less than two weeks so as to give space for the ideas to ‘sink’ and be evaluated. This will also give a period of relaxation to the organisers, participants and facilitators within which to replenish their energies, reflect on the issues and ideas and discuss alternative innovative styles of delivering follow-up workshops.
- The training curriculum should have more of team-building sessions, hands-on individual and group exercises and such other related styles of delivery. The plenary questions and answers strategy, though involving as well, brought the impression of an academic exercise in a classroom, not a community workshop context involving adult learners and participants.
- Some community members and staff at the community radio had the opinion that the OD process would bring radical changes in the leadership and management of the project that would suit them and their interests.
This was not to be as the OD process was not meant to settle community scores and rivalry, radically transform the project’s organisation structure and overhaul the existing leadership and management. It was also not meant for EcoNews Africa and the facilitators to stake a claim in the control of the affairs of the project, during and after the workshops. Rather, the OD was a process to facilitate group and organisational change through a progressive and participatory training curriculum.