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Community Contribution

Fire Management Learning Community


Describe The Approaches Utilized To Measure / Assess This KM Initiative: 

Since the beginning, in 2002, CAMAFU was created with the participatory tool design with Pact’s methodology of Organizational Capacity Assessment (OCA). Pact's unique methodology for organizational capacity assessment and strengthening (OCA) helps organizations anticipate and overcome the greatest barriers to organizational change and growth. Through a guided self-assessment and planning process, organizations reflect upon their performance, and select the tools and strategies they need to build capacity and broaden impact. Pact's OCA is the product of ten years of research and field practice in partnership with the Education Development Center and USAID's Office of Private & Voluntary Cooperation. Hundreds of local and international NGOs, private-sector corporations, and municipal governments around the world have used our methodology. OCA is a four-staged process that includes: • Participatory tool design that empowers organizations to define the critical factors that influence their performance and to identify relevant indicators for evaluating their competency. • Guided self-assessment that leads employees, board members, and constituents through structured discussions followed by individual scoring on a series of rigorous performance indicators. • Data-guided action planning that provides organizations with an opportunity to interpret the self-assessment data and set change strategies most appropriate to their environment. • Reassessment for continual learning that allows organizations to monitor change, track the effectiveness of their capacity-building efforts, and integrate new learning as their needs change and capabilities increase. The organizations of CAMAFU that chose to, would be reassessed periodically to monitor their change and their place. It was the first time that OCA’s were used to measure the different capacities of heterogeneous organizations within a network.


Conservation NGOs

What Do You Think Are The Main Unanswered Questions Or Challenges Related To This Field Of Work?: 

How can you motivate people more since the begining of the process? It is hard to promote trust to exchange experiences. The learning curve and benefits from sharing have to be easier graped and more tangible since day one.

What Was The Purpose Or Motivation For Assessing This KM Initiative?: 

Several years of record-setting provoking awareness of the risks of wildfire Ecological sound fire management CAMAFU participants feel the strength of working together and the possibility of addressing more complex problems regarding fire and conservation issues CBOs participating more actively and effectively to protect and restore natural resources

What Were The Most Important Lessons Learned About The Assessment Process?: 

In terms of network effectiveness, we can say that are not widely used criteria for defining or assessing it. As with organizational effectiveness, network effectiveness is best defined in relation to the network’s unique outcomes and context. That said, it is possible to outline a common set of characteristics for many healthy networks including : Outcomes Clarity of purpose • Outcomes-orientation • Delivers valued outcomes to network members Membership & participation Trust; many and strong relationships between members • Shared values with room for disagreement / divergent opinion • Engagement strategies for formal and informal members • High levels of participant engagement Governance, strategy, and structure Balance of top down and bottom up logic • Openness—to new ideas and new participation, as appropriate • Governing body keeps the network relevant to members • Decision making is transparent Leadership Leadership with “network mindset” (e.g., external/systems level focus, facilitative, connector, opportunity seeking, governs through trust vs. control, pushes power to the edges, strong self knowledge, etc.) Communications & technology Robust communications grid designed to meet members’ needs • Ample shared space—on-line and in-person Management of resources Ability to tap excess capacity – talent, access, money • Balance of members’ expectations and networks needs—a shared “bargain” Measurement Mechanisms for learning capture/storytelling • Ability to gather and act on feedback • Robust approach toward impact assessment

What Would You Do Differently Next Time?: 

I would not invest so much time in a complicated plataform and to teach members how to use it. You can rely on old ways of mapping and easier user-friendly platforms that will be much more effective.

What Advice Would You Give To Others Based On Your Experience?: 

Notable tips from CAMAFU: - Invest early in participatory knowledge mapping to identify priority interests, existing relationships and potential contributions. Engage members with updates and contacts that respond to their needs and connect them with relevant peers. - Reduce costs, increase visibility and sustainability by embedding the CoP within an existing learning network or organization when possible. - Anchor the CoP with a Web site and encourage use by sending regular e-mail newsletters highlighting valuable content. CAMAFU blended its private face-to-face events with public access to Web resources resulting in more than 500,000 visits.

Describe The KM Initiative: 

In 1998, Mexico suffered some of the worst forest fire seasons in its history. In response, several Mexican institutions in collaboration with the US Forest Service and USAID launched a fire management and restoration initiative. The Mexican fire management community of practice (CAMAFU) was started in 2002 to strengthen the capacity of participating organizations. CAMAFU was one of several CoPs which were embedded within the broader Mexican Conservation Learning Network. Learning or Communities Communities of Practice (CoPs) of networking and to search for different options of how to get a better results and thus effectiveness on the ground and in face-to face events and online has been very valuable to my personal and professional expertise. The mission of CAMAFU’s parent network, IMAC, is: “To improve biodiversity conservation efforts in Mexico through strengthening the performance of conservation organizations and practitioners.”




This case was submitted as part of the KM Impact Challenge in 2011. The challenge was sponsored by USAID's Knowledge-Driven Microenterprise Development project, as a key part of the project’s Assessing & Learning component, which sought to improve the understanding of how investing in learning can increase and extend the overall impact of USAID's development efforts.

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