Exchange visit

Brief Description (including a definition if possible)

Exchange visits, which are also called ‘peer exchange’ or ‘study tours’, are a practical tool to foster knowledge exchange and learning. They involve the physical travel of one group (the visitors) to another group (the hosts), to see with their own eyes what the hosts are doing. Exchange visits seek to improve the knowledge and practices of the visitors and their organizations. But the open exchange of experiences, ideas, knowledge and practices will benefit the hosts as much as the visitors.
Exchange visits require in-depth planning in order to be successful, both in terms of logistics and activities. It is essential to engage participants (both hosts and visitors, men and women) before, during and after the visit, so as to understand the expectations of each group and reach consensus on the objectives of the exchange.

When to use

  • Sharing
  • Adopting, adapting & scaling up
  • Mainstreaming

How to use

Exchange visits are often arranged between two organizations, but can also be held between community groups, or even individuals.
Although often initiated and mediated by a donor or network, they may also be arranged by any group that identifies another group or organization from which they wish to learn.
The group of visitors is normally between 4 and 30 people, and should include both men and women.
There are many aspects to consider and agree upon, in advance of the visit. These include:
  • Availability and dates of visit (ideally when visitors can observe activities taking place). These dates should not exclude individuals from participation – consider constraints linked to farming and childcare.
  • Financial responsibilities – who will pay for the visit?
  • Who will participate? Who will receive visitors and accompany them during the visit?
  • Logistical arrangements (e.g. for meetings, transport, meals, accommodation).
  • Key individuals who will meet with visitors.
  • Agenda for the visit and activities.
  • What physical materials will be shared with visitors?
  • What does each group hope to gain from the experience? What are the areas of discussion to focus on during the visit?
  • Who will monitor participants, their reactions and comments, and deal with any issues or problems that arise?
  • What will be the follow-up process after the visit?

Resources (add your resources)

FAO Good practice - Exchange visits: Advice for improving the impact: www.fao.org/docrep/019/aq213e/aq213e.pdf