33 Horizontal learning

From Blue Gold Program Wiki

Within the methods used by BGP for agricultural extension and for communication on innovative practices in general, Horizontal Learning stands out for its cost-effectiveness (see chapter 32). Blue Gold's monitoring data recorded a staggering 243,900 participants in horizontal learning activities[1] up to June 2019. This figure includes exchange visits and farmer field days organised through Farmer Field Schools (FFS) also as horizontal learning events. In addition, there is likely to be a fair deal of double counting of participants.

Briefing Materials
Ico sl-tb-cs.png
The following materials illustrate concepts, interventions, outcomes and lessons learnt, including through stories from community members.
Case studies

This chapter looks specifically at the Horizontal Learning method that was introduced with Blue Gold from late-2016, and which involved some 6,500 participants up to mid-2019. To distinguish this approach from the use of the words ‘horizontal learning’ as a container term for other kinds of peer-to-peer exchanges and gatherings; the specific method referred to in this chapter is capitalised as Horizontal Learning (HL).

Horizontal Learning – the approach in BGP[edit | edit source]

Figure 33.1 HLP steps of knowledge sharing

The World Bank-funded Horizontal Learning Program (HLP) was set up to promote good governance by Bangladesh’ Local Government Institutions (LGIs). It provided a structured approach for peer-to-peer learning and for replication of lessons learnt (see Figure 33.1)[2]. HLP organised workshops in which participating elected local leaders were asked to identify a good governance practice employed in their constituency. Several Unions or Upazilas participated and the proposed good practices were presented, discussed and assessed. The participants then selected the best practice, to which they would subsequently make an exposure visit. During the visit, the practice was reviewed in detail and the visit also included a session to prepare a back-home action plan aimed at replicating the practice. Good practices were documented and included on a central website, with tracking for their replication.

Blue Gold adapted the HLP approach to suit WMGs. Good practices were identified by TA polder teams, and collated in two booklets in Bangla[3]: The first collection of factsheets (38 no.) were published in October 2017 and the second collection of factsheets (45 no.) were published in February 2019. The successes described in the factsheets ranged from women’s participation in decision-making, the introduction of new agricultural practices, market successes, operation and maintenance of water infrastructure and running a savings and credit operation. The factsheets were distributed to TA polder staff and WMOs with the intention that community development facilitators (CDFs), the TA team's field level staff, would use them to identify subjects of immediate interest to the WMG - and to then encourage the WMG to organise horizontal learning visits to find out more about the good practices from the originating WMG (whose contact details were provided with each factsheet).

With the aim of expanding CAWM demonstrations in new areas, Horizontal Learning was used to showcase existing CAWM sites to encourage uptake by farmers in the new areas. This approach was also embraced for community fishery activities. When a successful practice was identified, Horizontal Learning visits were arranged in which the host WMG invites representatives from 4 to 5 neighbouring WMGs as well as representatives of LGIs and departments (notably DAE) to witness their success. The success is explained in a courtyard session, after which the program offers an opportunity for field visits and interviews. The visitors then reconvene for a Q&A session with the host, and are then encouraged to provide feedback and lessons they have learnt, and to plan to replicate the success in their own farms.

Horizontal Learning – An assessment of BGP’s experience[edit | edit source]

In general, HL events were festive occasions that created good-will and enthusiasm amongst the participants as well as pride amongst the host-protagonists of the good practice. Because they were often attended by LGI representatives and DAE, DLS and DOF experts, they also served as networking events. While the TA polder teams often initiated and organised the event and assisted with (a small) financial contribution, the receiving WMGs always took clear ownership of the program and took their role as hosts very seriously.

No systematic review has been made of replication as an effect of HL. Most new CAWMs have reviewed an experience elsewhere but it is difficult to say whether that was the sole factor in their decision to apply CAWM. The rapid expansion of HYV T Aman (especially the BR52 variety) may have benefited from HL, but the pace of expansion appears to exceed the rate of HL events. Introduction of new mustard varieties and mustard cultivation as a chance crop benefitted from HL, as well as from efforts to improve forward- and backward market linkages.

Although the Horizontal Learning approach was appreciated by the BGP TA team and considered as a highly cost effective approach, it was – over a 3-year period – only used to reach a mere 6,500 people. This is only 3% of the total reach-out recorded for all peer-to-peer extension methods used by the project[1], and implies an estimated 10 HL sessions per polder over a 3-year period. With hindsight, this was due to the following factors:

  • Organisational – The HL approach requires the identification of opportunities for HL by the polder teams. The challenges in transforming the BGP TA organisation to an integrated and highly decentralised organisation – described elsewhere – have hampered a more intensive and creative use of the HL method.
  • Planning – HL came into the programme as an add-on and not as a replacement of other methods. Targets for the other methods continued to exist and continued to attract the programme’s energy.  At the same time, only modest targets for HL were set in the annual plans, with concomitant funding.
  • Initiative – HL had no clear and continuous owner within the team, who would follow-up with colleagues and polder teams on the application of the approach. The attention given to HL has therefore been somewhat short-lived.
  • Culture – One could speculate that an internal culture of horizontal learning would greatly encourage the application of HL among the WMOs. Some polder teams did emphasise peer-to-peer learning, e.g. by setting up small Facebook groups wherein experiences, reports, etc. were shared, but cross-learning was neither set-up at a higher level, nor strongly encouraged.

The application of Horizontal Learning in BGP was modest but significant. The method attracted quite some attention and this sparked a replication by a third party using the BGP innovation fund. During the Blue Gold Program, HL proved to be a viable addition – and a potential alternative – to other methods of agricultural extension.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 WMG Tracker FINAL Report to June 2019, Working Paper 9H. Euroconsult Mott MacDonald & Associates. October 2019.
  2. Mikelle Adgate, Maryam Hariri, Kathryn Matheny, Ethel Mendez, Tammy Singer (2009). Horizontal Learning Program: An Independent Assessment.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link) CS1 maint: display-authors (link)
  3. Fact Sheets, 2017 and 2019 (Originals in Bengali). Euroconsult Mott MacDonald & Associates.

See more[edit | edit source]

Previous chapter:
Chapter 32: Agricultural Extension Methods and Communication
Blue Gold Lessons Learnt Wiki
Section G: Project Management
Next chapter:
Chapter 34: Monitoring and evaluation

Section G: Project Management
Chapter 28: Project Management Arrangements Chapter 29: Technical Assistance: Context, Scope, Contractual Arrangements and External Service Contracts Chapter 30: Evolution of TA Organisational Arrangements organisation
  1. Introduction
  2. Implementing Modalities
  3. Development Project Proformas (DPPs)
  4. Project Meetings
  5. Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs)
  6. Review Missions
  7. Annual Work Plans
  8. Polder Development Plans
  9. Progress Reports
  1. Context and Scope
  2. Contractual Arrangements
  3. TA Service Contracts
  1. Scope
  2. Scope of Technical Assistance in the Program Document
  3. Early Arrangements for the TA Organisation
  4. Evolution of TA Organisation
  5. Theory of Change: the emergence of practical approach to PWM
Chapter 31: Capacity Building Chapter 32: Agricultural Extension Methods and Communication Chapter 33: Horizontal learning
  1. Capacity Building Programs
  2. International Exposure
  3. Refocused Training
  4. Refocused TA FFS
  5. Vocational Education Training
  1. Communication aimed at beneficiaries
  2. Communication aimed at organisations
  1. Horizontal Learning – the approach in BGP
  2. Horizontal Learning – An assessment of BGP’s experience
Chapter 34: Monitoring and evaluation Chapter 35: Management Information System Chapter 36: Environmental Due Diligence
  1. M&E Objectives
  2. Approach to the Participatory Water Management Project Monitoring and Evaluation Framework
  3. Key elements in the Project’s M&E Framework
  4. Impact assessment/Endline survey 2020
  5. Independence of M&E Reporting
  1. Background
  2. Establishing a WMG Tracker
  3. Management Information System (MIS)
  4. MIS Design and Development
  5. MIS Results Reporting
  6. WMG Tracker Closure
  7. Polder Dashboard
  8. Polder "Health Checks"
  9. Participatory Monitoring
  10. Post-Project Monitoring
  11. Self-assessment of WMG performance
  1. Objectives of the EIA Study
  2. Overview of EIA arrangement and consideration
  3. The modalities for carrying out the EIAs
  4. Alternative future modality
Blue Gold Wiki
Executive summary: A Call for Action
Section A: Background and context Section B: Development Outcomes Section C: Water Infrastructure


Summary and Introduction


Section D: BGP Interventions: Participatory Water Management Section E: Agricultural Development Section F: Responsible Development: Inclusion and Sustainability




Section G: Project Management Section H: Innovation Fund Files and others