Nuffic – the Dutch organisation for internationalisation in education – financed this EALAN strengthening project (January 2016 - January 2020) under the NICHE programme (GLR 262). 
EALAN comprises twelve universities and one research institute in eight countries: Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. The network aims to improve their education, training and research services in: 

  • land administration 
  • land governance and conflict resolution 
  • land access for women and vulnerable groups
  • natural resources management 

EALAN’s coordinated development contributes to the resolution of regional conflict dynamics and inclusive growth in the Great Lakes region.


The challenge

The EALAN network has thirteen members spread over eight countries in East Africa. Members were used to meeting at conferences and communicating bilaterally, but did not have developed a common way of working as network. Hence, it was necessary to strengthen its network thinking and functioning for developing and implementing gender-sensitive curricula, as well as influencing related policies based on research and evidence, which holds interests for individual members and collectively. 


Kick-off: basic elements for network functioning 

At the kick-off, we facilitated the crucial elements of managing network dynamics and emphasised the difference between functioning as an organisation and a network, which required a fundamental change of mindset among the members. It was acknowledged that EALAN would be able to innovate, realise and sustain the project objectives based on a commitment to mutual and shared interests, common goals, active member cooperation, continuous exchange and interaction, accompanied by servant steering and coordination. 


Solutions: finding common interests 

In order to stimulate the members to contribute according to their interests, four interest groups were set up during the inception phase (and will continue after the project). Members could learn from each other and contribute to new product development based on topics of concern to their institute. One member had the lead and clear outputs were formulated. 
ITC focused on strengthening the network secretariat, developing the research component, the curriculum/training component and the website setup. Kadaster International and the LDGI contributed content aspects for the education/training and research components.
MDF Training & Consultancy mainly contributed to:

  • Structuring the network, managing network dynamics and network monitoring 
  • Developing the EALAN strategic plan and regular update
  • Capacity strengthening for education and training through needs assessment and labour market research, introducing active learning methods and facilitating a peer review of curricula
  • Capacity strengthening of gender mainstreaming (research, education training) and advocacy lobby function related to research

Three MDF consultants (Anton Bloten, Ger Roebeling, Marie-José Niesten) were strongly involved in achieving the outputs and outcome of this project. 


Strategic planning and monitoring

MDF facilitated the processes for the EALAN strategic plan and the research and advocacy plan. The EALAN network thermometer was developed in a participatory way to monitor progress, whereby members provided indicators for six network building blocks: 

  1. strategy
  2. connection and cooperation between the members
  3. functioning of the steering structure
  4. working processes and task implementation
  5. learning and innovation
  6. results and process questions of the interest groups


Annual general meeting (AGM) and network performance

The strategic plan (2016-2021) reflects the EALAN vision, mission and six strategic objectives validated in the 2016 AGM. Its implementation is supported by a business plan and developed in collaboration with Kadaster International. These two plans are relevant for internal guidance and external communication, e.g. with new partners. 
Our MDF consultants were invited to this AGM and facilitated the network thermometer outcome discussion, its relation to the strategic plan (result management) and other topics for network performance. We observed EALAN members growing in their network thinking and acting. 


Member cooperation for education strengthening

Based on South Africa work experience, our MDF education expert coached the EALAN members through a participatory process of curriculum review and upgrading. This stimulating process increased the understanding of the different land administration and land governance systems and the consequences for curricula design. This peer method can easily be repeated in the future, supported by virtual communication. 


Work packages capacity building and research 

MDF Training & Consultancy provided training on needs assessment and labour market research for curriculum development and short courses. We trained members on active learning methods adapted for large groups and gender and vulnerable groups mainstreaming (cross-cutting in this project). 

ITC-Twente led the research component, resulting in several articles on land governance and land administration. Conference articles have been written and two comparative books will be published in 2020, to be used as reference materials for teaching. 

For policy influencing, facts and figures are required to formulate convincing messages. One MDF expert trained the members on advocacy thinking, formulating messages and the consequences for research proposal formulation and implementation.


Closing of the project

Marie-José NiestenWith ITC-Twente in the lead and good coordination between the implementing partners, the network has achieved progress, and it will enjoy external support from a German finance partner to continue its functioning and strengthening. As the MDF team, we have enjoyed being part of the strengthening process of this dynamic EALAN network.
Please visit the EALAN website for further, up-to-date information. 
If you would like to learn more about the role of MDF Training & Consultancy in this strengthening EALAN project, contact Ms Marie-José Niesten