Almost Bulawayo

Making jokes about being asked to leave Zimbabwe back in August helped to take the sting out of the fact that I missed an important meeting. Over the course of a couple of snatched moments after dinner and lunch I had a chance to talk to Florencia Guerzovich about the project. The project that Gertrude Mugizi had introduced to me a few weeks before in broad terms is starting to take shape. Especially after getting a chance to listen to practitioners talk about their challenges and experiences with the perpetually tricky business of documenting learning.

This sounds familiar from other documentation projects I have experienced: an entity (an organization, an individual) has done something over a period of time. There is a beginning, a middle, challenges and triumphs along the way. We need to tell our stories for our activities and choices to make sense. But this Pilot- assisting in the examination of the evolution of a social accountability methodology through its practice in a variety of countries and organizations- is not like anything I have ever seen before…

We are talking about Monitoring and Evaluation and Learning. There will be logframes and strategy documents and piles of information to sift through. There will be indicators and acronyms and references to this methodology versus that methodology- a challenging area for me. Numbers are not my natural habitat! There will be so much complexity- how will something come out of this massive pile of information? Getting an opportunity to learn how that could be done is exciting.

The PSAM has engaged in various methods to document its activities, outcomes, evolution over time. Of particular interest to me in this project is using a public sphere to discuss the complex business of learning: the PSAM’s online community of practice- COPSAM- is a perfect place to experiment with that. If we journal the processes and thoughts and experiences of this Pilot, we hope to invite broader dialogue with  social accountability community, most especially the PSAM community itself.

So in those few rushed meetings in Bulawayo amazingly enough some of the potential of the project happened over a few very intensive conversations and a few initial ideas. The Pilot is ambitious and though the destination is clear, plotting the way towards it will be where the , the dynamic part. Sadly I was back to Dar es Salaam prematurely, which was an excellent lesson for me with regards to the importance of context. Learning indeed.

Elsie Eyakuze