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Share Fair 2011 – day 2

Today inspiration came from the great intro by Rob Burnet who talked about the incredible experience of shujaaz in Kenya. This series, which is using comics, radio, internet mobile telephony and video, introduces agriculture to the Kenyan youth. Rob strongly suggested: “Go to the point. What does your audience is looking for?” and “It is not the what. It is how. Push does not work at the end.”

Rob Burnet introducing Dj B

In the afternoon I joined @etiennewnger‘s and @NancyWhite‘s Community clinic to look for suggestions on how to solve problems of the CoPs that I supervise. In particular, I wanted to reflect on the FSCA community that it is still not very active after the workshop in Dakar. We came out with the answer I already knew: when the need is not clearly expressed by the members, then it is more difficult to have the group working as a Community. And this reminds me what I heard this morning during Rob’s address.

The class listening to suggestions during the Community clinic

I closed the day meeting Ms Tukhikyan from Armenia who shared their experience in the attempt to mitigate plastic pollution. Recycling plastic bottles + substituting common plastic bags with other bags to diminish their use.

An alternative to plastic bagsWhat to add? An intense and inspiring day. The days you need when you are missing ideas and want to find new inputs for your daily work to refresh it and reinvigorate.

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Share Fair 2011 – day 1

The first day of the Second Global AgriKnowledge Share Fair was really great. I follow Willem’s suggestion and I had lots of fun.

Etienne Wenger at sfrome

In the morning, Etienne Wenger‘s words were really inspiring. His approach, which compared CoP and dating, was really striking. That sense of deep trust that you develop in a relationship can be felt in a community where you offer something for free, exactly in the same way. And this is so true that is very difficult to convince people that it is real! Most of them remain sceptical about the kind of knowledge/experience you can exchange in a community because they consider it impossible to be done. But in reality it really happens. It is a sort of miracle, a combination of the best merits of a human being: altruism, trust, consciousness, generosity. What a liberation! What a dream! What a real thing! It really happens! It is true even if it does not happen elsewhere. The heart makes the difference, Etienne said. The feeling inside and not the tools or the techniques.

Later in the morning, I had a training session on photosharing. Few participants but very interested and full of questions for me about the topic I was teaching. We essentially talked about flickr, its features, its pros and counts, and the ways to get the best out of it.

The class at the photosharing training at sfrome

In the afternoon I followed Nancy‘s training on graphic facilitation and I loved it. More than anything else I’m grateful to her because she showed me that drawing is possible. That I can do it. That, again, it is a matter of heart and feeling, not a technical issue. I did my tests, I drew my men, my icons, my circles and lines. I did my final examination with “my personal toolkit” test. And my level of satisfaction is really high. I look like a child when I showed my drawings home to my girlfriend because I really realized that I can do it. That potentiality is in there and it is just to me to exploit it. Such a good lesson for my job and, much more, for my life. And there we go again: it is a matter of heart.

Efforts to draw at the Graphic facilitation training

This first day was passionate as few before. It was necessary to remember all of us that, before anything else, we need to put ourselves in what we do, open the doors of our offices, get out of them and then come the rest, like tools or techniques.


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The Spirit of the Share Fair 2011

Today the Second AgriKnowledge Share Fair starts.

Before anything else, we, the Steering Committee, think the Spirit of the participation to this event to be crucial.

Interview with Willem Bettink - one of the organizers of the #sfrome

I like very much Willem’s description of the spirit of the Share Fair 2011.

The first and main aspiration is to “have a lot of fun”: we need to chill out, talk to other people, get out of our daily routine and breath fresh air to bring innovation and new idea in what we are doing

This is the spirit we want and need to transmit to all the participants and to our institutions, in general. If people will come out of the the week with this spirit permeating their job, then our work can be considered successful.

Let us know this spirit is able to conquer your soul and your job.


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FSCA-PISA Workshop on ComDev: Lessons learned 3

GROUPING BY COUNTRY: The meeting room was organized around seven tables, one per Country. The vast majority of the activities were carried out on a “National Group” basis. We had to face logistic problems as the table in the room were very hard to move and the configuration with seven “islands” could hardly be transformed during the day. Anyhow, our approach resulted to be positive and stimulated the Teamwork.

Suggestion: dedicate much attention to the facility and the logistic issues. It is a crucial point as most of the meeting rooms are equipped with very traditional furniture that does not stimulate interaction. Big round tables work as obstacles rather than platforms for communication while small mobile tables work much better.

The Mali Team

As a compensation for the logistic difficulties, we used every activity to offer the National Teams the opportunity to interact with the others, promoting discussions and sharing at different levels.
In particular, the long session dedicated to the exposition of the Case Study offered an effective occasion to interact personally and as a group with the other Teams, creating very interesting dynamics.
The use of mobile microphones helped in maintaining the sessions vivid and generate dynamism during the discussions.

SOCIAL REPORTING TEAM: The creation a Social Reporting Team wanted to be an additional prodding for the group. It responded to two main objectives:

  •   To show the potential of social media to advocate for the event during and after the event, and
  •   To integrate off-site participants into the discussions and sessions of the Workshop.

The idea of creating the SR Team was proposed to the participants few days before the beginning of the Workshop to avoid overlapping with other ongoing activities (in particular, with the preparation of the Case Study). The participation was strictly on a voluntary basis to guarantee the full commitment of the members. The SR Team gathered for the very first time Sunday afternoon, for an informal meeting, to discuss: the idea, the background, the TORs, and the tasks distribution. Three people, other than me, took part to the meeting:

  • Djalo Mamadu Aliu, from Guinea Bissau, who became the blogger on the FSCA website,
  • Bah Thierno Souleymane, from Guinea, who committed himself to audio and video interviews,
  • Oumar Ndiaye, from Senegal, who offered to dedicate to photography,
  • Luca Servo, who acted as team coordinator and photo reporter.

Mrs Fofana, from Guinea, joined the Team during Day 1, adding lots of energy and more gender balance to the group. Additional informal meetings to verify the proceeding of the job took place during lunches and coffee breaks all week long. By the end of the Workshop, the SR Team produced:

  • A blog on the FSCA website, which recorded everyday activities and the impressions of the participants,
  • A photo gallery, on the FSCA flickr gallery, registering the main moments, the portraits of the participants and the groups, and all the posters produced during the week containing the results of the Team work,
  • A podcast channel broadcasting several interviews recorded during the week,
  • A twitter flow reporting about major steps taking place during the training.

THEMATIC ACTIVITIES: The facilitation Team had the objective to promote major integration among participants. To do so, we organized also several thematic events during lunch time which were called “Cross Cutting Gatherings – CCG”. The badge provided to each participants collected a series of information (name, country, and role) which helped organizing these events. In fact, using his/her badge, it was possible to address each participant to the right table of discussions during the thematic events which were:

  1. CCG I – Initial meeting by ROLE (Tuesday, lunch) to stimulate contacts within homogeneous groups of people with similar tasks inside the projects (Project staff, NPCs/NPDs/NPMs, ComDev consultants). The Facilitation Team got this occasion to join the group of National Project Coordinators.
  2. CCG IITHEMATIC lunch (Wednesday, lunch) to offer the chance to discuss specific topics identified by the participants.
  3. CCG III – Final meeting by ROLE (Friday, lunch) to ideally close the round of contacts within groups with similar tasks. The Facilitation Team got this chance to join the group of Communication Consultants.

CONCLUSIONS: The Workshop was a great success. We were able to get participants fully involved in the activities and develop high level of interaction. The final evaluation demonstrated the appreciation for the adoption of new techniques, an informal approach and a participatory methodology.

This experience strongly confirmed our beliefs and suggestions: we highly recommend to embed the Communication for Development component in every Development project/programme and to develop such a Workshop, at least twice during the life of a project: once at the very beginning of the implementation and another one at the very end.

Lots of interaction and discussion during the FSCA workshop in Dakar

Read also:

  1. Lesson learned 1
  2. Lesson learned 2


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FSCA-PISA Workshop on ComDev: Lessons learned 2

ComDev Workshop scheduleSCHEDULE: the Facilitation Team agreed on dedicating five full days to ComDev. One can argue that it is not enough time but for us, given the background and the resources, this was a good compromise. In line with the objectives, the agenda was divided into five main Steps and several activities. Every step was described in an ad-hoc agenda which was distributed to the participants before the beginning of the Workshop:

1. BASICS (1/2 day)

  • Intro to workshop about KEY points of the week
  • Description of the OBJECTIVES of the training
  • Proposal of a people-centred approach to describe the projects through people’s perspective
  • Overview of the projects’ innovative aspects and main benefits
  • Collective reflection on the beneficiaries’ perception, expectation and participation with regards to the project
  • ComDev component-activities to date and first impressions

2. COMDEV THEORY (1/2 day)

  • Theoretical background
  • Communication planning
  • Gender and Communication
  • Methodological approaches tools
  • Tools, channels, techniques
  • ComDev strategy design
  • Monitoring & Evaluation

3. COMDEV FOR FSCA-PISA PROJECTS (2 and 1/2 days)

  • Analysis of Communication Issues in FSCA projects
  • Success vs Constrains: Identification of communication issues
  • Presentation of Case Studies
  • Matching Constraints with Solutions
  • Regional approach
  • Networking Initiatives
  • FSCA forward looking: Ideas for the future and Collaborations&synergies

4. LABORATORIES (1 day)

  • Web Lab
  • Photo Lab
  • Radio Lab
  • Video Lab
  • Mobile Telephony Lab

5. CONCLUSIONS (1/2 day)

  • Workshop Evaluation
  • Closing session

In addition, we prepared also a detailed plan for facilitators only, with more information such as: name of the facilitator, learning objectives, description and details of the activity, facilitation technique, materials and specific support required, and a long list of notes taken during the prep meetings.
These notes were very important to give a shape to the flow of the training and collect all the reflections done by the Team members during the preparatory works: I strongly suggest to collect them. It really helps keeping record of the logical evolution of the planning as you can easily lose track when the preparation takes long.

FACILITATION METHODS: we decided to adopt a specific facilitation method for each session of the training. This choice had 2 objectives: offer the participants the occasion to test the widest range of new methods, and organize dynamic sessions introducing different kind of incentives. As a result, we carried out:

  • A Chat show, with the communication consultants, to introduce the actors and their work,
  • A World café, finalized to learn more about expectations, perceptions, and participation of the beneficiaries in the field,
  • A Case Study exercise, to highlight a specific obstacle encountered in the implementation of the ComDev strategy,
  • A SWOT Analysis, to make a collective effort of analysing good and bad aspects of each project,
  • The network mapping, to graphically design communication flows inside and outside the National teams and develop a visual approach to communication,
  • The mind mapping, to discuss the objectives of the national projects and their inter-regional connections,
  • The Wall of participants, to link names with faces and put people in contact,
  • A public Rules collection, to have the participants fully engaged in the workshop,
  • A Dotmocracy, to collect a final feedback on the main aspects the workshop,
  • The Social Reporting Team, to provide direct feedback on the activities and get participants involved in the use of Social Media.

Network mapping

Moreover, in the effort to stimulate higher attention in the audience, the Facilitation Team decided to avoid powerpoint presentation. Initially, this decision provoked astonishment in the participants but it produced positive results in stimulating people’s fantasy and creativity, especially during the presentation of the Case Studies (see the photo below!).

The Team of Guinea presenting the Case Study about mangue

Introducing important tools like the Case Study exercise and the SWOT analysis were significant steps. At the end of the training, we asked for a punctual evaluation both of them, receiving, respectively, a 52% and a 70% of positive votes.

Read also:

  1. Lesson learned 1
  2. Lesson learned 3


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FSCA-PISA Workshop on ComDev: Lessons learned 1

The training on Communication for Development organized for the FSCA-PISA programme was a great success. We saw enthusiasm and a lot of interaction during the five days spent in Dakar with the seven National Teams. Now it is time to put order among all the innovations we introduced. My first notes are about the Organization and the Language issue.

The participants to the Training in ComDev

  • ORGANIZATION: the FAO Facilitation Team composed by Riccardo, Silvia, Antonello, Catherine, Elena and I worked for long time on the preparatory activities. The original idea of delivering a technical training was launched early 2010 and evolved into a broader event, aimed at discussing ComDev in general.
    The debate on the objectives took long. At the end, we decided to approach ComDev as a whole rather than focusing on a specific tool (the web, in our case). This choice answered to the perceived need to clarify ComDev concepts and details among the FSCA National teams.
    The first discussions took place before Christmas. At the beginning we defined objectives, target audience and a draft calendar of activities. Then, one meeting after the other, we got into each macro activity to define it in details, from the learning objectives to a precise timetable.

Opening of the FSCA-PISA Training on ComDev

  • 7 COUNTRIES and 2 LANGUAGES: the language issue was one of the main problem to afford. Both the organization and the content were strongly influenced by this factor, in every step of the preparation. The initial idea of having two different sessions, one for the Anglophones and another one for the Francophones, was abandoned in favour of one single workshop with interpretation provided to the two groups. As a consequence, the budget, the agenda, the schedule, the content and the logistic were deeply affected.
    I admit that this was the right choice to do: being an introductory training to a strongly participative but relatively new discipline for the participants, the one-group approach highlighted all its strengths. At the end of the event, people’s appreciation for meeting all together confirmed this idea.
    Suggestion: do not underestimate the problems and the costs due to interpretation of the workshop and the translation of the documentation. Moreover, test the ability of the interpreters and provide them the training material well in advance.

Read also:

  1. Lesson learned 2
  2. Lesson learned 3


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Here we come

We are just few hours from the official starting of the FSCA-PISA workshop on ComDev. It is night and I’m almost closing my laptop after having prepared the latest documents for tomorrow.

This afternoon, during “day 0“, the first important goal was achieved: the Social Reporting Team met to discuss our activities and share the tasks. We decided to go for pictures, podcasting and blog posts. Video is a possibility but we have to find time and support for that.

The Social Reporting Team

As you can see in the picture, the Team is officially (and initially) composed by Oumar Ndiaye (Senegal), Thierno Souleymane Bah (Guinee), Mamadu Aliu Djalo (Guinee-Bissau) and myself.

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