Lesson Learned

Selete Nyomi, director, AGORO Centre for Intercultural Learning and Talent Development

With support from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, AGORO recruited talented local performance artists in eight communities surrounding Kakum National Park. These artists formed performance groups to inform communities on issues related to biodiversity conservation through the use of music, dance, and drama in the Guinean Forests of West Africa Hotspot.

What was the most important lesson learned?

It is important to make every effort to make collaborating partners share ownership of projects being implemented.

Describe how you learned this and whether / how you have adapted your approach or specific project elements as a result.

My project, which falls in the public education domain, uses music, dance, drama, and film to reach out to several communities on the need to conserve the rainforest.

Our application to CEPF was approved and we were ready to fly by the latter part of the year 2004. We needed other stakeholders to get on board, including a key local environmental society. We had made the necessary contacts on the national and regional level, and the regional coordinator attended our first few preparatory meetings as well as the launch and first outreach performance in one of the big schools in Cape Coast.

We were all naturally very excited that this program had taken off successfully and counted on this initial energy to propel the program right through to the end.

During our second, third, and fourth performances, however, this partner was no longer attending. We eventually got used to their absence and decided we might have to do the project alone.

But part way through the project, we decided to rethink our strategy. We booked an appointment with the regional coordinator, went over to his place together with other stakeholders, and decided to reassess our expectations of the second half of the year with him.

After our discussion, he felt a greater responsibility toward this project working out in our mutual interest. We clearly defined roles as to what we expected each of the parties to do when we went on our outreach errands. AGORO took responsibility for the performances and film shows, and the other partner led the mass workshop discussions on lessons learned from the film.

As a result, the partner was involved in every single show thereafter. They initiated a move to bring all the schools together during the end of the project, and AGORO was quick to agree to the idea. That event climaxed the collaboration we enjoyed with all partners on this project.

- May 2006