FSM Project Delivery with Limited Presence (COVID-19 Travel Ban)

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  • DarrylHow
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FSM Project Delivery with Limited Presence (COVID-19 Travel Ban)

Dear all,

I am working together with a local NGO in Northern Ghana on a project exploring the feasibility and prototype development of scale-able technologies for value recovery from faecal sludge. As part of this project, my team intended to travel from UK to Ghana and spend some time to develop stakeholder engagement strategies alongside technology evaluation studies.

However, due to recent events concerning COVID-19 - travel has unfortunately become restricted.

I was wondering if anyone in this community is currently experiencing similar problems. Without face-to-face meetings, what mitigations have helped move your projects forward - particularly where internet connection is not good enough to provide coherent Skype calls with the local NGO? Emails have worked fine in the meantime, but discussions are obviously not as spontaneous - so I'm hoping to know if there are other tools that people are using.

Regards,
Darryl
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  • rochelleholm
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  • Manager of Mzuzu University Centre of Excellence in Water and Sanitation, Malawi. To learn more about the Centre visit http://www.mzuniwatsan.com/.
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Re: FSM Project Delivery with Limited Presence (COVID-19 Travel Ban)

Dear Darryl,
Best of luck with your project in Ghana.

Here in Malawi, what works for us often better is WhatsApp. You may consider some mock stakeholder engagement sessions and technology evaluation sessions on WhatsApp video. Further, because internet in Africa is often pre-paid based on bandwidth, it might be good if you can consider providing your Ghana local NGO with extra funding for pre-paid internet to facilitate the WhatsApp sessions.

Rochelle
Rochelle Holm, Ph.D., PMP
Mzuzu University
Centre of Excellence in Water and Sanitation
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  • joeturner
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Re: FSM Project Delivery with Limited Presence (COVID-19 Travel Ban)

I was just in Southern Africa and saw the difficulties from both sides.

If one is trying to conduct a seminar or workshop training online, there is a real problem "reading the room".

I think one needs a trusted person on site who can give instant feedback and tell you if something needs to change - we were conducting the workshop on zoom (I am sure it could be done with other things like skype etc) and we were also receiving questions on whatsapp at the same time. Participants need to be encouraged to speak out, ask questions and make the presenter aware of issues.

We also did in-person seminars, which turned out to be much more difficult than expected due to very limited shared internet at the university.

This would have been much better if we had realised more quickly that the local cell/mobile company offers data bundles for a few $US. We could have bought some for a few of the participant's phones and this would have probably made everything easier.

The problem is that one may not know that these problems are really problems until you encounter them, particularly if the event is moved online at the last minute.
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  • DarrylHow
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Re: FSM Project Delivery with Limited Presence (COVID-19 Travel Ban)

Thanks Rochelle and Joe for your feedback and advice. Particularly around providing additional funds for improved internet quality.

We are focusing on having quality internal team discussions to ensure we are 100% clear on our strategy going forward. I guess for now, it makes sense for us to use existing methods of communication with our local partners, and possibly double-up (Skype + WhatsApp texts in case signal drops). Then see what would work for external discussions by doing mock sessions.
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