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Supporting Learning During the Current Relief Operations in Malawi

ALNAP (the Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action) has just commenced an operational test of its Learning Support Office (LSO) concept in Malawi. The test, which runs from October 2002 to March 2003, will be subjected to a real-time evaluation to assess the extent to which it benefits the performance of the operations and the effectiveness of the different learning techniques employed. In-country hosting support is being provided by the Malawi Red Cross.

The first activity being undertaken is to facilitate a process of expanding and refining the guidelines on community-based food distribution being used by the Joint Emergency Food Aid Programme (JEFAP) Consortium, comprising WFP, CARE, Malawi Red Cross, CRS, Oxfam, World Vision, SC-UK, SC-US, Africare, Salvation Army, Emmanuel International, GOAL and Concern Universal. The process involves a series of workshops for Field Officers of JEFAP member agencies to help draw lessons from the initial round of distributions. Lessons from community-based general food distribution in other operations are being collated from documents in the LSO's comprehensive Resource Centre collection.

The principal output planned for early November is a practical manual tailored to the specific context of Malawi that covers the whole distribution cycle, from community sensitisation to post-distribution monitoring. Other activities include video filming at distribution sites to facilitate peer exchange and learning between agency personnel, and tailored training programmes (planned in conjunction with RedR). Other forms of learning support to the Government of Malawi and to agencies involved in relief and recovery activities are also being developed.

The LSO's Project Director (John Borton) encourages readers of Field Exchange to visit the LSO team at Taurus House (off Convention Drive) in Lilongwe or contact him at john@lsomalawi.org. The LSO website, which contains an extensive web bibliography, is at www.lsomalawi.org.

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Supporting Learning During the Current Relief Operations in Malawi. Field Exchange 17, November 2002. p16. www.ennonline.net/fex/17/supporting

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