The World Café and the Mauritania retreat
During the recent retreat between IFAD-funded projects in Mauritania, one of the main facilitation "techniques" utilized was the World Café (although, being in Mauritania, we should have named it the world thé). In order to make the meeting room more friendly, 6 tables seating 5 people were prepared. We bought some colored tissue at the market with which we made 6 tablecloths. We also bought some flowers (plastic unfortunately since fresh flowers were not easy to find) and placed these on each table. We had brought with us various posters from IFAD which helped to make the room even more colorful. Indeed, the room looked very pleasant, inviting and energizing! Discussions over the 2.5 days turned out to be intense and contributions from participants important. At the end of the second day we distributed a survey asking participants to evaluate the World Café method. Their responses can be summarized as follows: (i) original; (ii) participatory; (iii) constructive; (iv) useful; (v) pragmatic; (vi) consensual. In terms of improvements which they felt could be brought to the method, participants would have preferred not to discuss the same question after the first round of "switching tables". They also would have preferred to have more facilitation at the end of the general discussions to better bring their thoughts together into more concrete proposals. All in all participants considered the retreat a success and it is likely that it can be attributed to the highly participative nature of the world café methodology.