During horizontal learning exchanges LOs visit each other to share learning and experience about each others organisational development and programming. They analyse their approaches and compare internal systems. Upon return they incorporate what they’ve learned to improve effectiveness and delivery. These exchanges are coordinated and funded by the Alliance secretariat.
Since the scheme started in 2007 there have been 32 exchanges involving 31 LOs. The focus of the exchanges has been varied, ranging from financial management to programming for specific key populations.
The most recent exchange took place 11-14 September and saw BONELA (Botswana), MONASO (Mozambique), Alliance Zambia and ZAN (Zimbabwe) visit The AIDS Consortium (South Africa) to share their experiences of being civil society networks working on HIV.
Cindy Kelemi, BONELA’s Networks and Partnerships Coordinator explained the benefit of the exchange, “As an organisation we’ve always had this dream of becoming a network, and had a concept on paper. But this HLE gave us an opportunity to learn and understand what it really means to put the concept from paper to practical.”
AN INDEPENDENT APPROACH
A great example of the impact the exchanges have had can be seen in an exchange which took place between Atlacatl (El Salvador) and IDH (Bolivia) earlier this year.
After meeting at 2011’s regional Blue Sky Week Atlacatl and IDH organised their own horizontal learning exchange, independently of the Alliance secretariat. IDH had previously participated in a 2009 exchange with Via Libre in Peru, and consequently they were familiar with the processes involved. This innovative and independent approach to knowledge sharing is exactly what the Alliance aims to inspire through its technical support and capacity building.
The exchange focused on management of financial, technical and human resources and took place in March 2012. “As a member of the Alliance, Atlacatl considers the exchange of successful programmatic and organisational experiences with other Linking Organisations to be extremely important. This not only contributes to the internal strengthening of the organisation, but also serves to strengthen the ties between them” says Evert Vasquez, Director of Finance and Administration at Atlacatl.