Food Security and Nutrition Network

2017 TOPS/FSN Network Knowledge Sharing Meeting: Successes, Challenges, and the Way Forward: Seven Years of Community Building Presentations: Thursday, July 20


Over 200 implementers, donors, and researchers from over 60 organizations joined us for the final TOPS/FSN Network Knowledge Sharing Meeting on July 19-20, 2017 in Washington, DC. The conference not only looked back over the past seven years of The TOPS Program, but also looked forward to productive discussions about our collective accomplishments and innovations, lessons learned, and ways in which the greater food security and nutrition community can keep advancing in the years to come. 

Click the links below for more information on Thursday's sessions. You can also view Thursday's lunchtime table topics, Wednesday's sessions and lunchtime table topicsor return to the main meeting page


TOPS Small Grants Program: Learning through Practice

The Food for Peace Learning Agenda: A Consultative Process



TOPS Small Grants Program: Learning through Practice 
MODERATOR: Adam Keehn, Deputy Director, The TOPS Program
The TOPS Small Grants Program has supported innovative activities for food security and nutrition practitioners, with the aim of promoting learning and program improvement in the field. Since 2010, The TOPS Program has made 71 small grants to 32 organizations totaling just over $4 million. This session showcased 12 of these grants, highlighting the diversity of the Small Grants Program in terms of technical areas, geographic reach, and the types of organizations supported. By the end of the session, attendees became familiar with at least four activities funded by the TOPS Small Grants Program; and made a connection with a colleague whose knowledge and experience may enhance their own.
The Food for Peace Learning Agenda: A Consultative Process 
PRESENTER: Joan Whelan, Strategy and Learning Advisor, USAID's Office of Food for Peace
The development of the Food for Peace (FFP) learning agenda is a dynamic process seeking to identify priority questions. The answers to these questions will help FFP and the broader food security and nutrition community strengthen our programmatic approaches to achieving improved and more sustainable outcomes for vulnerable populations. The FFP learning agenda is intended to address questions surrounding both emergency and development programming. It will seek to identify questions that may be answered through research and formal studies, through evaluative learning, documentation and desk review, or focused dialogue and knowledge exchange. This participatory session asked participants to identify and discuss some of the lines of inquiry they feel most relevant to their work, and whose investigation FFP and the broader community should prioritize. In this session, USAID's Office of Food for Peace will familiarized the partner community with FFP's goals and proposed process for developing a learning agenda; provided background on learning themes arising out of the FFP strategy development process and recent research and learning efforts; and gained input from the partner commnity on the lines of inquiry most relevant to their work. 
Harnessing Monitoring & Evaluation Data for Program Improvement: Stories from the Field | 10:55am-12:25pm
PRESENTERS: Arif Rashid, M&E Advisor, USAID's Office of Food for Peace; Lia Dididze, Senior M&E Technical Advisor, CARE; Jose Thekkiniath, Senior Technical Advisor, Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning (MEAL), Catholic Relief Services; Meghan Bolden, Senior Specialist, Food Security Monitoring and Evaluation, Save the Children MODERATOR: Edith Mutalya, Monitoring and Evaluation Senior Specialist, The TOPS Program
In this information age, development practitioners can no longer afford to operate business as usual. Performance is being judged using data, and evidence-based decisions are the norm. Program implementers need to use data to identify priorities for change, to establish improvement plans, to monitor and ensure progress, and to evaluate impact. Moreover they are faced with the daunting task of anticipating the future and making conscious adaptations to their practices, in order to keep up and to be responsive to the needs of program participants. In this session participants heard from different implementers about how they have synthesized and organized data in ways that stimulate reflection and problem solving, how they have moved from accounting to accountability, and how they show results. By the end of the session, attendees enhanced their understanding of why data utilization is critical to achieving results; learned about how to create an enabling environment for reflection and adaption; and discussed how technological innovations have revolutionized how we capture, analyze, and use data.
Knowledge Management Approaches for Learning | 10:55am-12:25pm
PRESENTERS: Aaron Buchsbaum, Knowledge Management Officer, World Bank Group; Chrissy Burbank, Knowledge Management and Training Specialist, The QED Group; Justin Lawrence, Assessing and Learning Portfolio Manager, The QED Group; Amy Leo, Communications Associate, Dexis Consulting Group; Kristin Lindell, Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning Specialist, Dexis Consulting Group MODERATOR: Yemisi Songo-Williams, Knowledge Management Specialist, The TOPS Program
Against the backdrop of increasingly complex and dynamic programming environments, there is a growing focus on how knowledge management (KM) and learning can contribute not only to internal efficiency, but also to improved responsiveness, successful partnership and adaptive management. Knowledge management plays an important role in driving programmatic and organizational learning, and can help programs and organizations make learning routine by embedding learning into key processes. Effective learning in turn increases information sharing, communication, and understanding; facilitates quicker and more informed decision-making; and stimulates strategic change and innovation. Session participants explored the practical application of KM as an effective tool to drive collaborative working and programmatic learning. The session also delved on how various programs have successfully designed and executed effective virtual and in-person learning events, implemented successful strategies to build global evidence bases and used organizational network mapping to inform strategic priorities and allocate resources more efficiently. By the end of the session, attendees explored practical examples of effective KM approaches that promote learning within and across programs and organizations; and gained new insights into how acquired learning can be used to improve processes and results, and determine strategic priorities.
Whose Job Is It? Engaging Fathers for Social and Behavioral Change | 10:55am-12:25pm
PRESENTERS: Brian Pedersen, Social and Behavior Change Advisor, The Manoff Group; Leanne Dougherty, Senior Technical Advisor, John Snow Inc.; Mary Pat Kieffer, Senior Director of Health, Project Concern International MODERATOR: Mary DeCoster, Social and Behavior Change Senior Specialist, The TOPS Program; Claire Boswell, Social and Behavior Change Specialist, The TOPS Program
This participatory session explored how to motivate fathers to contribute to healthy behaviors for their wives and children. The Manoff Group demonstrated the importance of doing formative participatory research and how that process can encourage fathers to help their wives overcome barriers to exclusive breastfeeding. The SPRING Project demonstrated how the use of community video engages fathers in healthy infant and young child feeding behaviors. Project Concern International shared their experiences and results from Father Care Groups in Malawi to promote healthy behaviors. By the end of the session, attendees learned how participatory research can be used to inform the desisgn of interventions that improve partner support for key nutrition behaviors; seen how community video can influence male engagement and spousal communication for better maternal, infant, and young child feeding; and learned how father engagement affected sustainable uptake of new behaviors in the context of Care Groups in Malawi.
Cash or In-Kind? Why Not Both? | 3:30pm-5:00pm
PRESENTERS: Gift Sibanda, Program Manager, World Vision; William Martin, Technical Advisor - Cash and Markets, Catholic Relief Services MODERATOR: Jenny Coneff, North American Regional Focal Point, Cash Learning Partnership
The TOPS Program recently supported the production of a number of case studies about decision-making for multimodal responses. A multimodal response is when more than one type of response (cash, vouchers, and in-kind) is delivered or when the type of response changes over the course of a project. The case studies provide concrete examples of the conditions under which cash or vouchers or in-kind assistance may be most appropriate, and of the relative importance of different criteria in response analysis. They also illustrate some of the costs and benefits of designing more flexible, better-targeted programming. By the end of the session, attendees learned about lessons from the case studies done in South Sudan, DRC, Nepal, Guatemala, and Myanmar; and shared their own experiences of multimodal responses.
Resilience Programming: Evidence-Based Interventions and Learning from Practice | 3:30pm-5:00pm
PRESENTERS: Eric Carlberg, Regional Agricultural Specialist, The TOPS Program; Nivo Ranaivoarivelo, Chief of Party, LAHIA Niger, Save the Children; David Evans, Chief of Party, World Vision, ENSURE Zimbabwe MODERATOR: Karyn Fox, Senior Research Specialist, The TOPS Program
Our experience is growing around how to better design and implement resilience programs and interventions. In this session, we will highlight food assistance programs in Uganda, Niger and Zimbabwe to explore resilience programming approaches centered on strengthening pastoral livelihoods and resource management; enhancing gender equity at multiple levels to foster transformational change; and strengthening resilience through integrated emergency and development programming. The session discussed lessons learned in designing and implementing resilience programs and how these lessons are reflected in the Food for Peace strategy. It also explored how implementers can provide evidence for effective resilience initiatives. By the end of the session, attendees gained insight into resilience programming approaches and interventions in diverse geographic and operational contexts; identified types of data and analysis needed for designing, monitoring, and evaluating evidence-based resilience initiatives; and considered how these lessons relate to Food for Peace's 2016-2025 Strategy.
A New Behavior Change Communication Activity for Mothers' Infants and Young Child Feeding Choices | 3:30pm-5:00pm
PRESENTER: Joan Jennings, Nutrition & Food Technology Senior Specialist, The TOPS Program
The TOPS Program has been field-testing a Training of Trainers (TOT) workshop, with cascade replication throughout project target areas, for strengthening the skills of staff and community volunteers in Listening- Dialogue-Negotiation, to promote improved Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) practices. The method has been used to develop a BCC activity in Malawi and Madagascar to promote improved frequency, quantity, and use of responsive feeding techniques, along with improved home hygiene for infants and young children, in Food for Peace-funded programming. Information on the methodology and the results from field-testing was shared in this session. By the end of the session, attendees gained an understanding of the methodology and its potential uses for developing project BCC activities to promote optimal IYCF practices; and became familiar with the TOT workshop agenda and training sessions, along with training tips for replication.