In 2008, Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO)1 and PSO came together to support an approach to organisational development in the south that is more meaningful, relevant and sustaining for the people involved. Our challenge was to counteract the concern that lessons learnt in development are not always put into practice and shared. This motivated us to look for ways to support practices that incorporate not only planning and implementation of interventions but also reflection and learning. This led to the launch of the Action Learning Programme, first as a pilot and later extended into a programme.
The Action Learning Programme focuses on strengthening the learning capacities and practices of VSO and its partners in Cameroon, The Gambia and Ghana. The aim is to improve these organisations’ practices related to service delivery to their beneficiaries.
This note presents three stories about African people who used Action Learning to bring about change in their own selves and communities. These accounts from Ghana, the Gambia, and Cameroon demonstrate that people have the capabilities to make their communities better places. They also show that, in change processes, Action Learning might be a useful approach to adopt, in the face of complexity of development work and practice. Action Learning, on the other hand, empowers organisations, individuals, and communities and develops capacities to continually reflect and learn. Four development and learning facilitators from VSO and PSO who accompanied this journey share these three stories with you, and conclude with the challenges and lessons we have learnt while working with the approach.