Togo – plans for future progress
Plans for using the mapping tool in Togo are still in the preparatory stage. Farah from the UNN Secretariat confirms that the task of preparing the data needed for customizing the tool is taking longer than it would during an on-site visit, due to the need for additional technical guidance and follow-up support, but that countries like Togo have assumed a larger responsibility in ensuring that all the preparatory steps are completed and that the final products will be delivered.
“Before we were working together [UNN and country teams] but we [UNN] were definitely leading the process. Now the country actors know that this information will be used to calculate the nutrition indicators they have selected, so the exercise is really linking things up for them.”
Future training for Togo will involve remote training on tablets for mobile data collection and adapting the tool to include data on COVID-19 for the first time. The plan is to have a national consultant in the training room together with all of the regional data collectors but with the UNN doing the training remotely to provide the ‘best of both worlds’.
“This type of quasi-remote training means that everyone can be in same room to look over each other’s shoulders to see what other people are doing, under the guidance of a national consultant,” says Farah.
Challenges in remote training
Challenges related to connectivity and maintaining focus throughout remote trainings might be obvious obstacles, according to Farah, but both have an effect on the training process. While connectivity issues are harder to overcome, training days have been reduced to half days and delivered over a longer timespan with a focus on one specific topic per session, in place of longer, full-day training sessions.
“The shorter virtual training sessions have enabled us to deliver digestible amounts of information, which has been better for those being trained,” confirms Farah. “It’s also given us more time to ensure the information has been well understood.”
However, the new mode of working has meant that the different stages of the process do take more time to finalize, and there have obviously been less ‘hands on’ activities and support to the country technical teams.
Building national - and sub-national - capacity
As well as encouraging increased ownership of the UNN tool at the national level, the virtual approach has also allowed for better mobilization of country-level human resources due to the need for national technical experts to be involved on-site rather than the previous involvement of external consultants. This has been achieved through identifying key technical focal points to ensure the tools are functional and customized to the country specifications. In Sudan, for example, UNN has brought on board MoH staff already working with the DHIS-2 data system. This should also build the capacity of key personnel where they are available to enable national actors to be able to replicate the exercise on a periodic basis without the need for extensive external training and support.
Next steps for training in a post COVID-19 era
Future implementation of the mapping tool will definitely use the mechanisms that have enabled increased ownership, such as involving more technical experts from national ministries and institutions. This will also allow for more responsibility to be given to the country teams through involving them from the early stages in the preparatory steps. This new phase of remote training has allowed the UNN to identify key stages where on-site support might be crucial, while also looking at where remote support is as efficient, thereby reducing the cost of the mapping exercise and the burden on country budgets.
Photo 1 @ WFP Sudan/ Saddal Diab