Project Management Team meets in Zanzibar, Tanzania
The HOPE project held its 5th Project Management Team (PMT) meeting on 9-10 March in Zanzibar, Tanzania, to review the project’s progress across the six objectives and the recommendation of the Addis Ababa meeting. The meeting was chaired and facilitated by Project Coordinator Dr. George Okwach, and attended by Principal Investigator (PI) Dr. Said Silim, Dr Yilma Kebede of BMGF, and the six project objective leaders (Drs Nareppa Nagaraj, SK Gupta, Henry Ojulong, Alastair Orr, Mary Mgonja, and Kirsten Von Brocke).
A significant part of the meeting was spent on presentations by Objective Leaders (OLs) and discussions on the progress made in their respective domains. The OLs presented highlights of tangible outputs that have been realized in their respective objectives, and the status of those outputs that still remain to be achieved.
On the recommendations of the October 2011 global review meeting held in Addis Ababa, the PMT noted that a large number of the resolutions were in various stages of implementation. However, part of the recommendations involved the preparation of proposals for activity revisions, as well as few additional (new) activities. The PMT reviewed the proposals that had been received from various projects scientists. The proposals were approved on the basis of their congruence with the project goals and on-going activities. The PMT recommended that the funds for carrying out the proposed/revised activities would have to come from the respective objective budgets.
Joining the meeting briefly via Skype, DDG-R Dave Hoisington updated the PMT on the progress made in negotiating with aWhere Inc. of USA in introducing a data management protocol for both this project and TL II projects. He alerted the project team of the requirements needed to make the system work, and urged the cooperation of all concerned.
Dr Yilma Kebede challenged the team to think beyond the level of mere achievement of activity milestones, and begin developing a “larger picture” in terms of the contribution the various objectives were making towards meeting the main goals and aims of the project. He observed that with close to 3 years into the project, project reports should be highlighting more of the tangible, substantive contributions of each objective to the larger goal of the project, and how the objectives and activities were cross-linked. He reminded the participants that the milestones were not an end in themselves but were stepping stones towards realizing certain bigger goals. He emphasized the importance of focusing on the overall project goal and ensuring the project outputs and the knowledge generated are turned into results that make a difference in the lives of the farmers. He also reminded the team of the importance of empowering the national partners and encouraged them to be in constant communication with the NARS. In conclusion, he requested the team to give him feedback on the foundation’s grant management system, saying that the goal is for ICRISAT and the foundation to work together as partners.
Project PI, Dr. Said Silim urged the leaders of the objectives to visit project locations to ascertain what is going on, and learn from each other. Meanwhile, in his closing remarks, Dr. George Okwach encouraged the team to continue focusing on the overall goal of the project and emphasized the need to integrate activities across objectives. He assured that regular video conference meetings would be held to ensure follow-ups on the meeting’s action points.