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Learning Circles Alumni: Cultivating Regional Talent to Sustain Knowledge Management Approaches in East Africa

Across our regional work in East Africa, the Knowledge SUCCESS project has prioritized knowledge management (KM) capacity strengthening and ongoing mentorship as a key strategy to sustaining effective use of KM approaches across individuals, organizations, and networks. In the most recent Learning Circles cohort among East Africa FP/RH professionals, the project integrated previous Learning Circles participants as active organizers and facilitators. Read on to learn about how our regional team has built and mentored an Alumni group to support our learning and knowledge exchange activities. 

Knowledge SUCCESS developed the Learning Circles approach in 2020 to support program managers and technical advisors working in FP/RH through supportive discussions into what works and what doesn’t in program implementation. Since then, the Knowledge SUCCESS East Africa team has hosted three cohorts focused on different priority FP/RH topics, with the most recent conducted in July and August of 2023 on Gender Transformative Approaches in FP/SRH.

In an effort to engage and mentor those that are passionate about KM and interested in contributing to these important conversations about what works and what doesn’t in FP/RH programming, we developed a Learning Circles Alumni group, consisting of previous Learning Circles participants from the 2021 and 2022 cohorts. During a four-week period leading up to the 2023 cohort, we trained and mentored four alumni on the art of facilitating a Knowledge SUCCESS Learning Circles cohort. The training included capacity strengthening on:

Effective Facilitation Skills – this is particularly important so that participants are pushed to go beyond surface-level observations and instead explore more deeply the insights of what factors contributed to a success, as well as to a failure. 

Learning Circles’ KM approaches – the alumni were trained on how the program unfolds over four sessions and the KM approaches that are used to help participants uncover and understand their programming successes and challenges in a productive and meaningful way.

This knowledge transfer and mentorship of the Learning Circles Alumni ensures that we are nurturing the spread of impactful and effective KM approaches beyond the Knowledge SUCCESS project team. While this is a gain for the project, it is also appreciated by the alumni, as expressed through their own words. 

Headshot images of Learning Circles cohort members who are quoted

“It has been an exceptional journey joining Learning Circles, this year as a co-facilitator…The collaboration with facilitators and co-facilitators made the whole process and period fun-filled. There could have been no better place to spend the summer than with colleagues, shaping minds and sharing professional best practices. Shout out to the 2023 cohort for being this phenomenal in their participation.”

 Justin Ngong Che, Cameroon (2021 Alumni)

“This Learning Circle was quite informative. I was able to understand best how gender transformative approaches can be implemented in the FP/RH sector. As a co-facilitator, I learned a lot on facilitation skills as well as understanding different strategies used by different actors in FP/RH within the region.” 

Saraphina Ambale, Kenya (2022 Alumni)

“This was my first time facilitating a direct program component and it was a learning experience for me.Having been a beneficiary of the  2nd Learning Circle,  this boosted my confidence and knowledge from other participants and facilitators on FP.”

Lilian Kamanzi Mugisha , Uganda (2022 Alumni)

To learn more about Knowledge SUCCESS’ Learning Circles approach, including how you can organize and facilitate your own, please visit our comprehensive module on the KM Training Package website. To connect with our regional work in East Africa, please visit our website.

Collins Otieno

East Africa FP/RH Technical Officer

Meet Collins, a versatile development practitioner with a wealth of experience and expertise in family planning and reproductive health (FP/RH) communication, program and grant management, capacity strengthening and technical assistance, social and behavior change, information management, and media/communication outreach. Collins has dedicated his career to working with local, national, and international development NGOs to implement successful FP/RH interventions in East Africa (Kenya, Uganda, & Ethiopia) and West Africa (Burkina Faso, Senegal, and Nigeria). His work has focused on youth development, comprehensive sexual and reproductive health (SRH), community engagement, media campaigns, advocacy communications, social norms, and civic engagement. Previously, Collins worked with Planned Parenthood Global, where he provided FP/RH technical assistance and support to Africa Region country programs. He contributed to the FP2030 Initiative’s High Impact Practices (HIP) program in developing the FP HIP briefs. He also worked with The Youth Agenda and I Choose Life-Africa, where he led various youth campaigns and FP/RH initiatives. In addition to his professional endeavors, Collins is passionate about exploring how digital communication and engagement are shaping and moving FP/RH development in Africa and around the world. He loves the outdoors and is an avid camper and hiker. Collins is also a social media enthusiast and can be found on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, and sometimes Twitter.

Irene Alenga

Knowledge Management and Community Engagement Lead, Amref Health Africa

Irene is an established social economist with over 13 years’ experience in research, policy analysis, knowledge management, and partnership engagement. As a researcher, she has been involved in the coordination and implementation of over 20 social economic research projects in various disciplines within the Eastern African Region. In her work as a Knowledge Management Consultant, Irene has been involved in health-related studies through work with public health and technology-focused institutions in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Malawi where she has successfully teased out impact stories and increased visibility of project interventions. Her expertise in developing and supporting management processes, lessons learned, and best practices is exemplified in the three-year organizational change management and project closure process of the USAID| DELIVER and Supply Chain Management Systems (SCMS) 10-year project in Tanzania. In the emerging practice of Human Centered Design, Irene has successfully facilitated a positive end to end product experience through conducting user experience studies while implementing the USAID| DREAMS Project amongst adolescent girls and young women (AGYWs) in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. Irene is well-versed in resource mobilization and donor management, especially with USAID, DFID, and EU.

Elizabeth Tully

Senior Program Officer, Knowledge SUCCESS / Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs

Elizabeth (Liz) Tully is a Senior Program Officer at the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs. She supports knowledge and program management efforts and partnership collaborations, in addition to developing print and digital content, including interactive experiences and animated videos. Her interests include family planning/reproductive health, the integration of population, health, and the environment, and distilling and communicating information in new and exciting formats. Liz holds a B.S. in Family and Consumer Sciences from West Virginia University and has been working in knowledge management for family planning since 2009.