MEDA Blog - Stories from the Field

MSC Capacity Building

From August 26 to September 1, GROW’s communications team was busy visiting the offices of all our Key Facilitating Partner organizations in order to facilitate a refresher training and capacity building discussion on MSCs. MSC is short for Most Significant Change stories, and is MEDA’s version of a client success story. The template features three main sections: relevant background of client, change the client is reporting and why the change is significant to him/her. Basically it’s one of the ways we collect qualitative (or narrative data) and it allows us to track the project’s success on an individual basis. In addition to individual stories, a few are tracked over the life of the project in order to provide a complete view of the impact.
Me with GROW’s team at ProNet after our MSC discussion


KFPs are required to submit stories quarterly, and, currently, we have over 40 stories in our catalogue that highlight diverse project areas including conservation agriculture, gender, farming as a business, our value chain partners, technology adoption and financial literacy, among others. Last year, the KFPs all attended a training session on MSCs conducted by GROW’s Senior M&E Manager from HQ and its former in-country M&E Manager. Story quality definitely improved after this workshop and they have been gaining more and more traction, even over the eight months I’ve been in the country. Stories were shared by the KFPs at our annual PAC meeting, they are included in our Annual Report, shared with our donor and partners, appear on our social media feeds, are included in GROW and MEDA fundraising appeals and requested by other managers from HQ for various other purposes.

Christian, GROW’s Communications Officer, presenting a copy of the printed MSC stories to Esther, GROW’s Gender Focal Person at CARD

Last year’s training brought all of the KFPs together, so we (me and Christian, GROW’s Communications Officer) decided meeting them on a one-on-one basis would give us the opportunity to provide feedback on their overall performance, as well as facilitate a related discussion on qualitative data in general. The tips sheet includes suggestions for probing questions to generate extra detail under each of the template’s three key sections. Even though the stories have improved a great deal, one of the gaps we identified was a lack of detail, especially related to the client’s before/background situation. We stressed this area in the discussion and on the tips sheet in order to emphasize how important it is to present a context from which to illustrate change.

Also included on the tips sheet were guides for recording direct quotations, as well as taking good quality photos. Photos are becoming more and more important as stories are shared on social media and are appearing in other MEDA and GROW reports and communications. In order to take a closer look at the photos, we showed examples of both good and poor photos included with actual MSC submissions in order to generate discussion. As a group we decided whether it was a good photo or not, and brainstormed ways the photo could be improved. Field officers were particularly engaged when they recognized many of the women in the photos!
Me handing over a printed copy of the MSC stories to Vidah, one of GROW’s field officers at ProNet

One of the highlights of these discussions was learning about each KFP’s process for collecting and finalizing the stories they submit. For most of the KFPs, this is a collective process. For example, at TUDRIDEP the field officers discuss possible stories at their weekly meetings, at PRUDA two field officers work together to collect the data in order to make sure they capture all information, and at CARD the stories are projected and staff read them together in order to provide feedback.

We also used this opportunity to present a printed collection of the best stories from 2015 for the KFP to share with the groups, as well as an additional copy to give to the women who are featured, women who have probably never appeared in print before.

These training sessions were especially well-timed because it provided an opportunity for me to say goodbye to all five of our partner organizations. I will be returning to Canada mid-September and appreciated the opportunity to let them know what a pleasure it was to work with them and to thank them for being so welcoming. There were group photos and even a rooster as a gift!

After learning it was the last time we would see one another, our team at TUDRIDEP gifted Sarah and I a rooster. He became a delicious soup!

Bye for now.

Janelle
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