Our “From the Field” series offers fresh insights and local perspectives of our QED staff working on development projects in the field. Here we highlight the efforts of Ruth Shevena Ankunda, the Learning and Adaptive Management Specialist for the USAID/Uganda Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) Program in Uganda. Below is her story.
My name is Ruth Shevena Ankunda, a Ugandan from the southwest region of the country. I have been working in development for the last five years, beginning my career as a volunteer field officer for a number of organizations, and later as a Program Coordinator. Before joining the USAID/Uganda Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning Program, also known as The Learning Contract, I was searching for opportunities to learn more about the complex development issues in Uganda. Having an academic background in Industrial and Organizational psychology, I wanted to understand how best NGOs and the private sector can improve the work that they do. In my previous position as a Programs Coordinator at a local NGO, my role involved project design, coordination and management, and ensuring that running projects were completed on time. However, there were few opportunities to reflect with team members on our intentions and achievements.
Learning about Collaborating, Learning, and Adapting (CLA) in my role with the Learning Contract has been an eye opening experience for me. This is what inspires me about my work in development –working with others, learning along the way, and making the necessary changes to improve outcomes. As the Learning and Adaptive Management Specialist, I have many opportunities to learn as well as support, and lead CLA processes. With knowledge management as one of its core services, The Learning Contract is the right place for me to excel at what I do. This gives me a sense of purpose and direction. The team I work with is diverse, with many skilled professionals. We have fun working together, and the program leadership creates an open and safe space to share our ideas improving the quality of overall deliverables for the contract.
My favorite parts of the job include: sharing ideas and experiences on what CLA is and can be with the Knowledge Management and Organizational Learning (KM/OL) team, and opportunities to facilitate learning and enhance decision-making processes with our client, the USAID/Uganda Mission. I enjoy planning for the events that we organize, such as: reflection workshops, data validation meetings and MEL trainings. I am a strong advocate for moments of reflection because these give space to pause and reflect about how best to improve the work we do. Working closely with a number of Monitoring and Evaluation officers has also given me the chance to understand monitoring, evaluation, and learning from a whole new perspective.
Working with QED has been a great learning experience for me thus far. Looking ahead, I hope to expand my skills in organizational development as I work on issues of change management, leadership, and collaboration with the USAID/Uganda Mission. I look forward to more learning, relationship building, and opportunities to join in CLA networks that are enriching both professionally and for my personal development.
Learn more about QED’s USAID/Uganda MEL Program (or The Learning Contract) here.