by Jorge Chavez-Tafur
The term “experience capitalisation” is increasingly used to refer to the process of describing and analysing a project, programme or specific experience in detail, and producing lessons that can be shared and used to improve development interventions.
As in a systematisation process, this approach is believed to help identify specific innovations and practices, and -above all- to understand the reasons behind their successes or failures. One of the major benefits of an experience capitalisation process is that it involves all those who are -or were- part of the experience.
But how do we promote such a process, and what are the steps to be followed? And once we have decided to go ahead, how do we facilitate the participation of different people? These were some of the questions that we asked ourselves at the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) about five years ago, prompting us to initiate a project together with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Financial support was provided by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). From 2016 to the end of 2019, the project responded to the need to develop specific skills for describing and analysing specific experiences, identifying and disseminating lessons and recommendations, and putting these to use. Working in different parts of the world and focusing on analysing the steps that should be taken in processes of this kind, the project sought to encourage the adoption of a capitalisation process at different levels. To this end, we sought to capitalise on the experience we had embarked upon, to learn lessons about the process itself and to validate the approach followed.