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Winrock International

Volunteer Post

Potato Omelette Sandwiches and Building Capacity in Guinea

Dan Quinn, F2F Volunteer

The latest is an update from, recent Guinea volunteer, Dan Quinn on his experience with Winrock’s AEMIP program, which helps promote food security and sustainable farming practices.

On my first day in Faranah it rained. It rained hard. The day started as I stood under an umbrella, held up only by a bent fork, waiting for my potato omelet sandwich to be made. I showed up at the Winrock office that morning soaking wet. The steaming sandwich, a strong cup of coffee, and some amazing new “co-workers” worked magic in helping me dry out. Perhaps owing to this early association with warming comfort, I’ve returned to eat this same sandwich nearly everyday for the past two weeks.

I’ve clearly come to love these omelet sandwiches and likewise could not be happier with my volunteer assignment. I am working with the Agricultural Education and Market Improvement Program (AEMIP), a USAID Farmer-to-Farmer Associate Award, run by Winrock International in partnership with Purdue University. Specifically, I am here to assist the project team in operationalizing the project’s performance monitoring plan through the establishment of a Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) system.

M&E is important to the work of any development organization. M&E supports learning and decision making to improve program quality and impact. I’m fulfilled in this work considering the likely outcomes. A solid M&E system, created along with Laye Oulare, Winrock’s M&E Specialist, means access to reliable and timely program performance information that will provide AEMIP with the agility to make informed management decisions and communicate its successes with partners. Additionally, a strong M&E system that is maintained in collaboration with partners, primarily agricultural education and training institute ISAV-Faranah, will serve to strengthen their institutional capacity. If ISAV-Faranh is able to demonstrate positive performance through data, it will be more likely to achieve its goals of attracting top-notch students, creating public and private partnerships, and becoming a leader in the Guinean agricultural sector.

Laye has truly been the backbone of this effort and the key to the future success of the program’s M&E undertakings. Laye has demonstrated great creativity, problem solving, determination, and organization, as well as great patience in dealing with my very rusty French. Working with Laye makes even menial tasks, such as creating filing systems, enjoyable endeavors. I feel fortunate to have learned as much, if not more from him, as I have hopefully been able to impart.

Quinn with AEMIP Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist Laye Oulare
Quinn with AEMIP Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist Laye Oulare

Through direct capacity building of AEMIP staff, this assignment has allowed me to have a particularly high impact in just a short amount of time. Additionally, I’ve been truly valued as a volunteer at all levels. I will leave Faranah with a deeper understanding and appreciation of the on-the-ground realities of M&E management, as well as a great new recipe for potato omelet sandwiches to try out at home in the States.