Between the 12th and the 16th of June, ActionAid Arab Region (AAAR) invited all of its partners in the SPA II Program from several countries of the region, for an initial workshop in Amman, Jordan.
Between the 12th and the 16th of June, ActionAid Arab Region (AAAR) invited all of its partners in the SPA II Program from several countries of the region, for an initial workshop in Amman, Jordan. Overall, it was a successful week where partners participated in various sessions related to budget and workplan drafting, as well as evening teambuilding activities to strengthen personal relationships between AAAR and the partners.
To start this week, AAAR and the participants initiated discussions regarding the SPA II program to establish the expectations of the week, and to have clear objectives about achievements to accomplish throughout the week. Mainly, the partners sought to expand their knowledge about the SPA II program in general terms, encompassing aspects related to financial guidelines, partnerships, communication, procurement, AAAR policies (SHEA & PSEA), implementation, the Theory of Change (ToC), administration, activities, and guidelines. It was important for the partners to establish a clear unified vision, about potential common activities that will help create the scope of work of the partner organization, and understand how they could potentially engage and benefit from each other. However, the most fundamental aspect of the SPA II workshop was to settle and finalize the workplan, and the initial budget for every partner, building upon shared lessons learned.
Consequently, the priorities of AAAR were to erase any potential question marks among the partners about AAAR, the SPA II program, and its objectives, to better understand what will be required from each partner. This occurred through interactive presentations where the partners themselves had the opportunity to engage and develop their own ideas about the theory of change. Therefore, multiple activities were designed to increase the participation, where participants for instance were asked to rebuild the theory of change, interact with each other, and engage in competitive tests, to apply and restitute the knowledge that has been introduced to them in the beginning of the workshop. All these activities were highly appreciated by the participants thanks to the simple design and fluidity of the different presentations and working groups which generated crosscutting relationships between the partners. In the meantime, conditions allowed them to apply and interact directly with the content that has been introduced.
The most important part the workshop occurred during the third and the fourth day, where the partners themselves had to develop their workplans for the four-year period of the SPA II project, together with the budgets for the initial year. During these days, partners had the opportunity to discuss their ideas with their respective AAAR focal point and establish their original plans for the program.
At the end of day four, all the partners had managed to establish their initial workplans and budgets and the impression was that they felt more comfortable about proceeding with implementing the activities as a part of the SPA II program.
Many of the participants highlighted the importance of introducing and thoroughly explaining the theory of change, especially that it assisted the partners in establishing their workplans, and retrieving a more holistic understanding of how the different stages of the ToC are tailored and interconnected.
The session on risks and mitigation’s actions:
An additional feature of the workshop that turned out to be valuable for AAAR was the session on risks and mitigation’s actions. During this session, each partner had to elaborate the potential risks that could occur within their own respective contexts. Once identified, the partners were asked to brainstorm about potential measures to mitigate these risks. Based on the outcome of these discussions, the partners supported and enriched AAAR’s knowledge on inherent peculiarities regarding these distinct contexts, assisting them in tailoring the activities and supporting the partners appropriately. Also, AAAR could update its own risk and mitigation matrix based on the presentations and insights of the partners, where several aspects that previously had not been considered were mentioned.
This entire workshop was a great exchange of experiences, expectations, and information between AAAR and all the partners from the region. Ultimately, the partners were pleased with the provided information since the presentations from AAAR gave them a holistic and thorough understanding of the SPA II program. Also, it made it clear for the partners what will be expected from them in terms of administration, financial management, procurement, policies to follow, and implementation, fulfilling the main objectives established in the beginning of the workshop. Simultaneously, the partners helped develop AAAR’s understanding on how they could assist them in the activities’ implementation and the overall program. During the upcoming year, a close collaboration will be required to maintain these sentiments and collaborations, and ensure effective and successful implementation of the projects in the target locations.
At the end of the workshop, the predominant sentiments encompassed an improved understanding for both the partners and AAAR about the upcoming program where the partners left with a clear idea of their workplans and initial budget.