NEWS June 2011

June 15, 2011 | bit-wartung | Methods & Tools |


Rating: 4.5 out of 5


HIGHLIGHT – 12 MONTHS “SDC Learning and Networking” Blog

Just one year ago this blog has been launched. 12 months are too short to write a story but long enough to share some of our experiences – and questions – as newcomers to the blogging community


  • Between 100 and 150 readers every day! This figure overwhelms us still.
  • 53 posts and a lot of discussions, mostly not in the blog but in the cafeteria, in bilateral exchanges.
    What needs to be done differently in order to have more discussion on the blog?


  • If targeting a wide range of readers vary abstraction level, text styles and –forms.
  • Vary topics and perspectives within a clear thematic frame.
  • Do we vary too much or not enough? What about our thematic line? What target group do we address/should we address more clearly?
  • Creating and implementing new series can well be delegated to interested interns.


  • 69 comments were posted during the last year. At the beginning there were many more, thousands of them, all spam. So be aware to have spam check.
  • Keeping the post pipeline filled is demanding. A solid network of partners and a fine nose for guest-scouting are precious.
  • Recruitment of guest writers and interview partners needs time and perseverance. Competent interns proved to be a valuable enrichment and support to the blog.
  • Administering the blog takes 2 hours every week (in normal times). Editing a blog post may ask for 4 to 8 hours. So: plan your time you would invest in this form of communication.
  • Weekly emails and monthly summaries in the SDC intraweb seem to be an accurate marketing. We are aware that very few use RSS Feeds. Install email-prompt if available.
    Would you like more PR from our side?
  • Our blog is provided by the Federal Administration (Bundesamt für Informatik und Technologie) and we were lucky for nice coaching and troubleshooting! Thank you Thomas.


  • English turns out to be a feasible language for SDC authors and extern guest writers alike. 
    But how about our latin partners in the south? Do we have readers among them?


  • Women and men, young and old, various backgrounds promote different perspectives on one and the same topic.

To know more about blogging refer to the KS-Toolkit from CGIAR and FAO.



From July onwards, the team of editors will change. Adrian Gnägi and Manuel Flury will leave the Learning and Networking Division. Both will continue to contribute to the blog, as guest authors, focusing on what learning in an operational unit really means. Michèle Marin takes over as the sole editor until the new Head of the Division, Manuel Etter, will have joined by October 2011. We are happy to have our colleagues from AGRIDEA as regular contributors to this blog.



A few weeks ago, IFAD published a document aimed at their employees on the correct use of social media in the organisation’s communication strategy. This useful document provides guidelines that are largely applicable in SDC’s and our partner organisations’ contexts as well, and answers questions like “How do I appropriately react to criticism of my organisation expressed on social network sites?”, “When do I have to add a disclaimer to an online contribution?” and “When and how do I distinguish my personal opinion from the organisation’s standpoint?”.

Read and download the document here: IFAD social media guidelines



At long last the module Knowledge Sharing for Development is completed and published on the web. SDC is one of the partners of IMARK/FAO in conceiving and producing this module. Look at the description of the module 



Berne, 18 August 2011, organized by fast4meter (Catherine von Graffenried and Pierre Waltner), in german:
Information: or Mobile +41 (0)79 668 31 23

Systemische Beratung: Beratungsprozess in der internationalen Zusammenarbeit
Murten-Muntelier FR, 8.-9. September 2011, organised by Ursula König and Arthur Zimmermann
Information and registration:
For external persons: via INTERNET-LINK

Wissen und Lernen: Auf dem Weg zur Lernenden Organisation Lernen im Spannungsfeld zwischen Individuum und Organisation
Ueberstorf (FR), 4.-5. October 2011, organised by Ernst Bolliger and Arthur Zimmermann
Information and registration:
For external persons: via INTERNET-LINK


TO END: A nice story about “lateral thinking”

Sir Edmund Hillary led an expedition to the Khumbu region in the autumn of 1959 which was to be a “Happy blend of science and mountaineering”.  The scientific part was to investigate the secrets of high altitude acclimatization and search for the Yeti, the abominable snowman. Whilst they didn’t find any firm evidence of Yetis, they decided to place their tubular research building known as the ‘silver hut’ at about 19,500 ft on the Mingbo Glacier at the foot of Ama Dablam and for this purpose established a base camp up the Mingbo valley at 14,500 ft where it was noticed that it would almost be possible to put an airstrip in the gentle hollow beneath them.

Hillary wrote in his book “View from the Summit”

Several of us returned to Kathmandu in early January to organise a second lift of supplies and while we were there I was approached by the Swiss pilot, Captain Schrieber, who wanted somewhere he could drop International Red Cross relief to the Tibetan refugees. They were in a pitiful condition, for on the 10th March 1959 there had been a Tibetan uprising against the Chinese in Lhasa. The Chinese retaliated with great force. Thousands of Tibetans were killed by Red Army troops. Seven days later the young Dalai Lama fled Lhasa to seek political asylum in India, followed by over 80,000 Tibetan refugees, some of whom crossed the border into the Everest region. Captain Schrieber had a Pilatus Porter aircraft with an outstanding high-altitude performance, but he didn’t know of any place to land in the Khumbu. I remembered the site I’d pointed out to Peter Muigrew up the Mingbo valley, but warned Captain Schrieber that it was at 15,000 feet. This didn’t seem to worry him, and we agreed that, if I could devote expedition effort to clearing the Mlngbo landing strip he, in return, would fly in several loads of aluminium sheets to build a school at Khumjung. So at my request, the Silver Hut wintering group put a team of men onto levelling the site at 15,000 feet, chopping off the frozen clumps of snow grass, filling in the worst of the holes, and rolling away the large boulders. Snow sometimes restricted their activity but it rarely lay for long once the sun was shining again. When the strip had been cleared to 400 yards the first landing was made. Unfortunately, the aircraft damaged its tail wheel on a rock and had an unscheduled stay of some days while being made airworthy again. Work on the strip continued for some months and we finally enlarged it to 500 yards and generally improved it.

At the take-off end were two huge boulders weighing many tons and standing six feet above the ground. We had no explosives and the boulders were singularly unresponsive to the blows of our sledge-hammer. The problem was finally solved in a highly ingenious fashion by our Sherpas. They dug enormous craters beside each boulder and then used long heavy poles as levers to tip the boulders out of the way into the holes. Altogether we paid $900 for the labour used on building this strip, which possibly made it one of the cheapest as well as one of the highest airfields in the world.

Due to the skill and experience of the Sherpas, large quantities of refugee food was transported safely into Mingbo and we for our part were helped considerably with the rapid freighting. of personnel, scientific equipment and our school building.

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