Note: These notes are not a verbatim representation of what happened during the day. Should any opinions or statements be misrepresentation, please be assured that it is not intended! Also, please feel free to add, edit, and comment on the wiki!
Don presented the Wiki as a tool and a resource and he encouraged the group to make use of these resources and contribute to them. Adel supported this point - that the wiki is a great resource, but that it relies on the community to adopt it and improve it. Adama remarked that the wiki actually provided some content that was also suggested by new projects during the meeting. If the wiki had been known before, the group might not have suggested some of these projects. The presentation brought out some of the challenges and benefits of working on collaborative networks. You rely on the work on many others who might not necessarily have direct incentives, yet if that works, it becomes a very powerful tool because the community takes ownership of it. A number of people underlined the point that in a way it is up to the group how useful the tool will be to the group.
Marcel added that for everyone using a resource like this, it is a concern, the quality and reliability of the information in the database. It is only the local experts that can guarantee this reliability. The project we are planning to develop - could be shared and used to update this tool.
Wall of ideas review
The group was asked to review the wall of ideas, and ensure that we are aware of all the individuals and organisations that should be part of the work in this group. We did not get very many suggestions. Not sure what that means? Does it mean that we did manage to get all (most) of the people already?
The spectogram was used to start the discussion about structure of the research programme. On one end of the spectrum, we place "Led Network" and on the other "Loose Projects". The mechanism seemed to work really well in this group. It brought out a range of opinions in a playful way, but also visualised dynamics in the group and created a space to build opinions (rather than have opinions). The majority of the group seemed to prefer a position in the middle and gravitated slightly towards the "Led Network" side.
We then broke into group discussions to address a number of questions regarding the structure of the research programme that participants would like to see implemented. We asked a few questions about the Recommended Structure
In the presentations, there was surprisingly little variation between the groups. There were important differences, but not as much as could have been suspected by the polarisation on the spectogram. Reasons for that might be the difference between "dream and reality" or the mix of group that worked together.
Reinhard: ''"I did not really see the types of differences emerge that I had expected. The one thing I was missing, how can conflict be managed within the structure? That was not clear to me - how a difficult situation would be handled." ''
Another issue that was raised was the distribution of finances: "In an ideal world, an organisation within Africa could receive the full funds and then distribute it. But in the real world, it is sometimes easier to disburse funds from Canada rather than within Africa." Another participant added that finances can be quite a lot of hassle, but once you understand how the system works, you can usually work around it. It should be considered how much work it will be, but there is something wrong with an African project that relies on financial management outside. Additional comment pointed out that transferring money within countries can be very expensive, but again there should be
"Even if there are some differences between the exact examples, if the group shares a vision and values we will be able to overcome them."