Listen, Pay Attention: Our approach to developing capacity and documenting our work | Capacity Building

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This reflective piece focuses on two core intertwined threads of Oxfam Australia’s work in South Africa: the capacity building initiatives undertaken to strengthen and support partners and programs, and documenting of the work of Oxfam partners and the communities they serve. Through interviews with Oxfam staff and partners, this content unpacks  the approach used as well as its evolution over the years. It also presents the key principles, lessons and challenges experienced by Oxfam and partners. Critical discussions on power, partnership, interpersonal relationships and responsiveness provide a unique perspective on these aspects of development. 
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  1   Listen, Pay Attention Our Approach to Developing Capacity and Documenting Our Work  2 CREDITS PAGE Title: Listen, Pay Attention: Our Approach to Developing Capacity and Documenting Our Work Published: Oxfam Australia in March 2016 Authors: Berenice Meintjes Editor: Caitlin Martin Design: LUMO design & illustration (www.lumo.co.za) Copyright: Oxfam gives permission for excerpts from this book to be photocopied or reproduced provided that the source is clearly and properly acknowledged. Disclaimer: The views in this publication are those of the respective contributors. These views do not necessarily represent those of Oxfam or any donor or support agency. The interview and review process was participatory and consent around content and inclusion of information was granted to Oxfam by participants. Contact Details: Oxfam Australia (Durban Office) Strathmore Office Park 305 Musgrave Road Durban South Africa 4001 +27 0 31 201 0865 Oxfam Australia 132 Leicester Street Carlton 3053 Victoria, Australia Phone: +61 3 9289 4444 Email: enquire@oxfam.org.au Website: www.oxfam.org.au  3 Contents   Executive Summary   ........................................................................................................................... 5   Introduction  .......................................................................................................................................13   What is Oxfam’s approach to capacity building?  ........................................................14   Why does Oxfam engage in capacity building?  .......................................................................................14   Partnership approach  ...............................................................................................................................15   Relational approach  .................................................................................................................................16   Shared power  ...........................................................................................................................................17   Partners are experts  .................................................................................................................................17   Self as development instrument  .............................................................................................................17   Types of capacity building initiatives undertaken  ....................................................18   How has Oxfam’s capacity building approach changed?  .......................................21   What are the key lessons Oxfam has learnt about capacity building?  ........23   Listen, pay attention  ................................................................................................................................23   Assessment of needs is a process  ............................................................................................................24   Introduce a topic broadly, then follow up with individuals  ...................................................................25   Customised training  .................................................................................................................................26   Working with the whole organisation  .....................................................................................................26   Longer term process with mentorship  ....................................................................................................27   Flexibility  ..................................................................................................................................................28   Linking partners through formal and informal learning spaces  .............................................................28   Philosophy of “What is meant to happen will”  .......................................................................................30   The capacity building experience of Oxfam and its partners  ..............................31   Challenges experienced  ...........................................................................................................................31   Observed outcomes  .................................................................................................................................31   What is Oxfam’s approach to documentation?  .............................................................33   Why engage in documentation?  ..............................................................................................................34   Types of documentation undertaken  ..................................................................................35   The process of documentation  ................................................................................................37   What are the key lessons learnt about documenting?  ...........................................39   Process is important  .................................................................................................................................40   Focus on People and their Stories  ...........................................................................................................40   Ownership and involving people from the outset  ..................................................................................41   Matching consultants with partners  .......................................................................................................42    4 Allow sufficient time and resources for the process  ..............................................................................42   Clarify the purpose of the document  ......................................................................................................42   Integrity of content and process  ..............................................................................................................42   People should be pleased with how they are represented  ....................................................................43   Constructive portrayal of Africa  ..............................................................................................................43   Collective documenting processes  ..........................................................................................................44   Go local where possible  ...........................................................................................................................44   Representing multiple voices  ..................................................................................................................45   We are learning together  .........................................................................................................................45   Keep documents short and readable  ......................................................................................................45   Make documents visually appealing  .......................................................................................................46   Invest in marketing of documents  ...........................................................................................................46   Creating playful spaces  ............................................................................................................................46   the documenting experience of Oxfam and its partners  ........................................47   Challenges  ................................................................................................................................................48   Outcomes  .................................................................................................................................................50   Concluding Comments  ..................................................................................................................51   With Thanks  ..........................................................................................................................................52  
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