Transforming into online training
Remote work has swiftly become a new reality. It took all of us some time to adjust our planned activities, meetings, and work schedules to the restricted mobility that came into force in Kyrgyzstan on 24 March 2020. The Integrated Rural Development Programme and its implementing partners have successfully transformed their activities into a digital format. One of the first experiments was an extensive webinar on inclusive local economic development. What otherwise was planned to be a two-day workshop with lively face-to-face discussions turned into not less of an interactive webinar.
The Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP) partners with eight national non-profit organisations in contributing to the processes of rural development in Jalal-Abad oblast. To strengthen the capacities of partner organisations, IRDP planned to have a two-day workshop on "Inclusive Local Economic Development: Joining Forces for Socio-Economic Development of the Community". Within a week, the format of the workshop transformed into a webinar, that lasted for seven days with up to three-hour sessions each day.
One of the well-known experts in the field of local economic development Asylbek Chekirov led the webinar with technical support of the IRDP team. Among participants were the representatives of Central Asian Alliance on Water (CAAW), Public Fund Rural Advisory Services Jalal-Abad, Federation of Association of Organic Movement “BIO-KG”, Representative Office of ACTED in the Kyrgyz Republic, Public Fund "Abad", Development Policy Institute, Public Foundation Kyrgyzstan Mountain Societies Development Support Programme, and Public Association “Agents of Change”. Recently, these NGOs received grants from the IRDP to support the pilot municipalities in Jalal-Abad oblast in developing and implementing projects on inclusive local economic development through public-private dialogues.
With the support of the expert, the participants studied the general framework as well as methodologies for creating inclusive economic development plans in the pilot municipalities. Along with exchanging ideas and real-life cases, they reviewed the forms of public (municipal)-private dialogues within the national legislation framework. They learned about the practices to equally involve vulnerable groups into the process of preparing the inclusive economic development plans.
Along with the theoretical basis, the participants practiced drafting the following products:
- The format of a public (municipal)-private dialogue for each pilot municipality;
- The methodology for developing the inclusive economic development plans for the pilot municipalities;
- The monitoring and evaluation system for the implementation of measures.
These three products will serve the partnering NGOs as the basis for their future measures on creating inclusive economic development plans in assigned pilot municipalities.
“I would like to thank the webinar organizers. Regardless of the virtual format, it was interactive and engaging, and, foremost, it covered interesting topics. We received directions for designing our future measures in pilot municipalities. We talked to each other and shared opinions. I especially want to note the professionalism of the trainer Chekirov Asylbek Asanaliyevich for his deep insights on inclusive local economic development that he has generously shared with us.”
Kadyrali Imanov, the director of Public Fund "Abad".
"The content and format of the webinar allowed to obtain a theoretical basis compatible with its practical application. The preliminary preparatory work of the organizers allowed for a structured discussion in groups, which in turn favored the active exchange of views and information among the participants in the webinar. Given the current situation in the world and in Kyrgyzstan in particular, this webinar has become a worthy example of working in a new format".
Salia Akulova, director of Public Association “Agents of Change”
Therefore, there was a high need for a quick adjustment of the workshop format. This first experience of remote learning proved to be effective, but can it substitute face-to-face contact? There are many uncertainties in future formats of meetings and planned activities. But for now, in the face of the new realm we are forced to quickly adapt digital solutions and continue with implementing project measures. The priority is the need to stay home to be safe.