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BIEP West and Central Africa

The Building Individual Expertise Programme (BIEP) was one of two pillars in the CALP Network (formerly CaLP)'s individual capacity-building strategy. The broad objective of the initiative was to develop more advanced and better targeted expertise that went beyond that imparted in standard CALP Network cash transfer training courses aimed at communities of practice.

The BIEP programme was delivered in west and central Africa between 2017 and 2021. The first cohort was made up of 14 participants from humanitarian agencies with an active presence in west and central Africa and took part in the initial pilot in 2017. The pilot phase was a success, and two additional 10-strong cohorts were subsequently set up in 2019 and 2020, bringing to 34 the total number of cash transfer experts in west and central Africa registered on the programme. The decision to reduce the size of cohorts was driven by a desire for closer follow-up and an improved learning experience.  From 2019 onwards, the programme focused on French-speaking participants who make up the largest community in the region in order to facilitate learning, encourage knowledge and experience-sharing, and foster stronger connections within cohorts. The programme was aimed at staff in humanitarian agencies engaged in:  

  • Building scalable cash transfer schemes and improving programme delivery; 
  • Ensuring that cash transfer schemes have a practical impact and contributing to the global cash transfer agenda, in particular through national coordination efforts; 
  • Making an active contribution to growing the knowledge base on cash transfers regionally and nationally, in particular by building capacity and increasing expertise among its staff in the area of cash transfers.  

The BIEP sought to engage participants with particular attributes, including:  

  • Staff with direct responsibility for designing and delivering cash transfer schemes within their organisation;  
  • Staff who were actively involved in coordinating cash transfers at country level (individuals in charge of cash transfer coordination efforts were given priority); 
  • Individuals with a good knowledge of cash transfers, demonstrated by education or training courses or at least three years’ experience in designing and delivering cash transfer projects.  

However, to ensure a balanced selection of participants and encourage cohorts to share knowledge and experiences, as well as maximise the programme’s impact by drawing on the broadest available range of expertise in the region, we always took account of the following general criteria when selecting participants:  

  • Diversity of backgrounds, sectors, genders and expertise; 
  • Diversity of organisations; 
  • Representation of countries where CALP actively supported appropriate follow-up efforts and fostering connections with national communities of practice.  

Cohorts were registered on the programme for one year and delivery centred on the following approach:  

The programme therefore offered participants an opportunity to engage in a host of capacity-building exercises, including specialist training sessions, individual mentoring through temporary placements within their current roles or in new roles (as identified by the participant’s organisation). The BIEP approach drew on both expertise and experience, forging a link between CALP’s technical assistance and cash transfer practices at national level. Participants worked with their supervisor and CALP capacity building manager to develop their own personal action plan, setting individual goals in line with the organisation’s strategy and objectives and, in response, making changes to their learning pathway. The personal action plan was an essential tool for monitoring a cohort’s progress on the programme and required participants and their supervisor to closely follow up on, and diligently record, all progress made. The personal action plan template (available only in French) can be downloaded here. 

For all three cohorts, CALP published a programme outline, giving interested organisations a chance to select suitable participants. The BIEP has been a flexible programme. Each session has seen some changes which were made to the programme outline to incorporate the recommendations issued from the evaluation reports done at the closure of the cohorts and adapt to events on the ground (activities went online during Covid-19 restrictions). You can also download the programme outlines (available only in French) for each of the three cohorts here. 

To make the most of the learning opportunities on the BIEP, participants were required to free up 12 to 25 days for training sessions and induction workshops, and at least five working days for mentoring/coaching over their period of enrolment. 

All three cohorts were a success, exemplified by:  

  • Active contributions from participants to key technical discussions at country level (facilitation of specialist MEB groups); 
  • The role of participants in improving coordination efforts in a number of countries (including an enhanced role for cash transfer working groups); 
  • An improved standing for participating organisations in the countries where they have a presence;; 
  • An increase in available expertise on cash transfers within the organisation and among communities of practice more generally within countries; 
  • Increased confidence and trust at the top level of participants’ organisations, who are now more inclined to commit to cash transfer projects by increasing scale and the organisation’s presence and involvement with cash transfer working groups; 
  • Increased appreciation of the challenges and the issues surrounding cash transfers.  

However, the performance of the third cohort (2020-2021) was hampered by the migration of programme activities online during the Covid-19 pandemic. There is therefore a risk that performance levels drop if programme activities have to be delivered online. 

As we have seen, the BIEP was a unique opportunity to develop individual expertise, but its impact and influence stretched beyond the participants and their organisations. Experts in cash transfers who signed up to the programme were able to build a network that CALP can use – and has used – to shape its programme activities in countries where it has no established presence. The programme tied in not only with the global capacity-building strategy, but in particular activities undertaken by CALP in west and central Africa. 

Under CALP’s new strategy, the BIEP is no longer part of the training schedule. CALP is directing its efforts to putting together a team of certified instructors based in a number of countries, who may be engaged by cash transfer working groups or individual bodies to hold training sessions. 

Organisations that would like to set up their own BIEP are free to use and adapt resources that CALP has used (see links in the text below) and if necessary contact CALP for suggestions.  

Listen to previous participants talking about their experiences of the program :

The 2020-2021 cohort

The 3rd cohort of the program was officially launched on the 27th of October 2020. This year, 10 participants from 7 organizations in the region were selected: Burkina Red Cross, Mali Red Cross, Save the Children, Oxfam, Danish Refugee Council, Plan International, UNHCR, Action Against Hunger, and IRC:

More information on the 2020-2021 cohort here.

The 2019-2020 cohort

The second round of the program was launched from February 2019 to February 2020, with 10 participants from 10 organizations across the region: Care, Save the Children, British Red Cross, RESADEL, FAO, DRC, World Vision, UNHCR, Niger Red Cross and UNICEF. Six (6) participants have successful completed the programme and certified multisector CVA experts:

  • Boukari Ouedraogo (Save the Children)
  • Boureima Lionel Ouedraogo (FAO)
  • Kassim Malle (UNHCR)
  • Amadou Yazi Tassaou (Niger Red Cross)
  • Sani Elhadji Dan Aoudé (CARE)
  • Mohamadou Hamadjoda (British Red Cross)

The 2017-18 Cohort

The first BIEP cohort in West Africa was made of 14 participants from seven organisations:

  • Giulio FRANCO (FAO)
  • Thierry MBAIADOM (WFP)
  • Midou Bawa YOUSSIFI (WFP)
  • Joseph SADIO (WFP)
  • Alpha KEITA (WFP)
  • Amayel SOW (WFP)
  • Paul Bakaiwe (IRC)
  • Soumana CISSE (IRC)
  • Abdourahmane KADAF (Oxfam)
  • Mark OMURU (ACF)
  • Noufou ILBOUDO (Solidarites)
  • Seloame Koku Amneyo (World Vision)
  • Papa KEITA (World Vision)