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Community Contribution

Empathy strategy: A CLA approach from Colombia

Carla Aguilar, Angela Cepeda

Imagine implementing a local governance project in the midst of a global pandemic in dispersed rural areas of a country most severely affected by an internal armed conflict of more than 50 years. The government only recently signed a Peace Agreement with one of the armed groups but others have already taken its place. Having never worked in this country and beginning to understand the local context and culture, there will be no ability to convene the team in person for at least the first year. There are promises of efficient implementation to achieve, through 
employing truly evidence-based decision-making processes and telling a story with data. Only a four-year project, time has already running. This is the story of Responsive Governance (RG).

The project quickly recruited technically-skilled specialists and highly-recognized local partners. However, RG was far from achieving the rigorous demands for information and knowledge management incorporation. Some perceived the task beyond their implementing role, others did not find it enjoyable, and even others thought it is only the Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) team's responsibility. Out of this context the Empathy Strategy was born.

This strategy puts team members “in others“ shoes to strengthen internal and external collaboration by implementing training sessions and designing a set of guidelines to gather, systematize, analyze, and use technical evidence throughout the program cycle. By developing customized tools tailored to their needs, abilities, and limitations, RG team members now work together through evidence-based decision-making processes to tell a story with data.

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