Community of Practice Meeting

Sunday, September 26, 2010 to Friday, October 1, 2010

A total of 51 participants attended the 4th SAf CoP meeting held September 26-October 2, 2010 at the Club Makokola on the shore of Lake Malawi in Mangochi. The workshop goal was to facilitate the exchange of experiences, mutual support, and collective planning and learning among the CCRP grantees in Southern Africa. The specific objectives for this year’s COP meeting were to:
• Share and learn from experiences of the projects during the past year.
• Learn together about the importance of Nutrition and nutrition education.
• Explore opportunities for linkages in the CoP between increases in legume production from agro-ecological intensification and nutritional   improvements especially for children and vulnerable groups in the region.
• Continue working towards operationalization of Integrated Monitoring Evaluation and Planning in SAf CoP.
• Discuss collective action on improving our Research Methods, Data Flow and Management.
• Plan the next steps for the projects to collectively contribute to improved crop productivity, food and nutritional security in the region.

Participants appreciated presentations from the 11 SAf CoP projects now working to improve legume productivity and utilization. The standard of presentations have improved markedly since the inception of the CoP, and everyone contributed to constructive criticism and cross-fertilization of ideas on how to take studies forward. Dr. Rachel Bezner-Kerr (University of Western Ontario, Canada) who works with Legumes Best Bets (09-1231, 10-232 & 10-234) project in Northern Malawi led the meeting in an exploration of how increases in legume production can be translated into improved nutrition. Grantees had the opportunity to appreciate the complex processes and pressures at work at household level and a number had useful discussions with Bezner-Kerr about opportunities for their own projects.

A highlight of the week was a Food Fair when participants sampled an exciting array of dishes prepared by eight farmers who participate with the Legume Best Bets (09-1231, 10-232 & 10-234) project. These farmers run recipe days to show tasty legume dishes to other members of their community. The meeting also devoted time to understanding how each project contributes to our regional Theory of Change and how grantees can ensure their study designs provide the robust evidence needed to persuade other institutions to promote their research outputs. Once again, the CoP is indebted to Ed Rege for his cheerful, dynamic facilitation.