The Harambee project, conceived by the Association for Progressive Communications, Bellanet and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, is designed to support increased capacity among both the project’s initiators and a range of Africa-based networks and communities, to coordinate and facilitate the interactions of their respective constituencies.

      The rationale for this focus rests on several observations:

      • First, it is recognised that a networked approach to confronting many complex challenges faced in development today is one that offers greater chances for effective impact.

      • Second, it is geared toward creating the conditions for participation by a broader variety of partners. The combination of these diversities promises robust and sustainable outcomes as well as a high degree of shared learning.

      • Third, it is through collaboration and networking that Africans have the greatest potential to effectively participate in their own development as it unfolds in a globalised environment.

      Harambee is funded by Connectivity Africa, which is hosted by the International Development Research Centre and Hivos.

      The implementation of Harambee is coordinated by the Uganda-based Bellanet Africa and includes a variety of partners:

      • Harambee coordination committee made up of representatives APC, Bellanet and UNECA

      • Network coordinators from APC Africa Women (AAW), Academia Research Network (ARN), African Youth Information Network (AYIN), Constitution & Reform Education Consortium (CRECO), and Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET)

      • Small grant recipient networks in Africa (TBD)

      The Harambee small grants facility: A focus on networks

      Processes supporting collaboration and partnership are critical to enhancing the participation of Africans in their own development. There is both an immediate and strong need in Africa for capacity development in the design of processes that assist in the creation, use and sharing of knowledge, and in the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to support such participation. The Harambee project, and the Small Grants activity, has been conceived to address many of those needs.

      Collaboration is expected from organisations and individuals working in development. The benefits and value-added of working collaboratively – many of which have been demonstrated for example, in the development of software by the open source community – have become clear. But how can networks leverage existing and new knowledge on processes and technologies in support of more effective collaboration? The Harambee project builds on existing research and experiences in designing and implementing processes and technologies in support of networks. It proposes the implementation of network strengthening activities. These include but are not limited to capacity building, and opportunities for knowledge sharing as well as the development of research and training materials.

      The key area of focus of the Harambee project is that of strengthening the capacity of existing African networks through improved collaboration. While there are many examples of organic networks or communities – groups who may form naturally simply because they share a common goal – many are pushed into being. The latter are often expected to work collaboratively on planning, creating, solving problems and making decisions without having a solid understanding of the processes and technologies that can support their effectiveness or the considerations that need to be made to address group diversity and dynamics.

      More effective collaboration, which implies groups, organisations, or networks that are better able to organise, plan, solve problems, and make decisions, can be achieved by: designing and implementing processes that can promote equal opportunities for participation, maximize learning, generate solutions and build consensus decision making; and, leveraging existing and new collaborative technologies which can support ongoing dialogue and interaction.

      Under the Harambee project, the small grants facility (SGF) provides networks in Africa with funding for the development of greater collaborative capacity. The SGF offers an amount of up to USD 5,000 per network as a non-renewable grant.

      H3. Small grants facility objectives

      The aim of the Harambee small grants fund is to provide a mechanism to supply immediate funding for capacity development and innovation in sectors with existing networks pursuing ongoing activities. This competitive fund provides an opportunity for support to a number of sector-based networks and communities (in, for example, health, education, agriculture, etc.) – and to those with the capability to facilitate knowledge sharing, communication and participation of those networks and communities in a variety of fora – and in so doing will help to enhance awareness of, and expertise in, processes and technologies in support of collaboration on the continent as a whole. This in turn will ensure African organisations will be better equipped to strongly participate in determining strategies adopted to confront their development challenges.

      The following types of activities are examples of SGF projects that fit within the theme of strengthening existing networks and collaborations in Africa:

      • Increasing network coordinators’ and members’ access to relevant training and support for knowledge – and ICT-related capacity development. This could include, for example, receiving training in the strategic use of ICTs and/or knowledge sharing techniques;

      • Raising awareness within African networks of the potential for processes and technologies in support of collaboration to strengthen their collective capacity to effect change;

      • Undertaking research that can serve as a valuable resource on a variety of techniques, conceptual frameworks, indicators, etc., relating to facilitation, knowledge sharing, communication and other collaboration-related issues such as gender considerations;

      • Building expertise in the design and implementation of collaborative processes, including facilitation or conflict resolution/mediation processes;

      • Increasing the profile, knowledge and networking base of Harambee and Harambee partners.

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