Day two of the Western and Central Africa regional implementation workshop started with three parallel chat shows focusing on the following three themes:
- Agricultural value chain development
- Rural and agricultural finance and rural enterprises
- Support to capacity building
During the chat show participants shared their insights, experience and knowledge about the various challenges and opportunities of the above themes. For many, this was the first time they had participated in a chat show and most of them thorougly enjoyed it.
At the end of chat show the hosts (Carlo Bravi and Chrisitiane, Perin Saint-Ange and Coumba Fall, Mohamed Manssouri and Stefania Dina) quickly formulated three questions based on the insight that emerged from the chat show. These questions were then addressed during the World Cafe.
Your reporter had the daunting task of acting as cafe host for all three parallel world cafes. I must admit this was quite challenging also because I had to set up the cafe tables for Carlo's group. Encouraged by the enthusiasm of the participants, I started with Carlo and Christiane's group outlining the process. 5 minutes later I went to Perin and Comba's group and did the same. I then rushed upstairs to Mohamed and Stefania's group.
Stefania and Mohamed were great cafe hosts and had explained the process to the participants. Drenched, I headed back to the secretariat for a sip of water.
The cafe host is also the time keeper. So 20 minutes into the first round of questions, I did my rounds to ask colleagues to move table and get on with their second question. I must admit that everyone collaborated and they moved orderly to the next table, trying their utmost to keep 5 to table.
Mohamed and Stefania had done their maths right and had managed to have 5 francophone and 5 anglophone tables!!! The participants in all three cafes were completely engaged. I heard comments such as: "This cafe thing is really good". Martin Raine said: "You know, I was a skeptic, but this structured chaos is really great!". Steven reflecting on the process said "I wish we had started by asking the participants to talk about their successes, because when we did that at the last round, the energy level changed." And Steven is right, the question is one the important ingredients of a world cafe, it can make it or break it.
I am currently immersed in a series appreciative leadership courses, so his comment resonated completely with my changed mindset. He was right on: we always need to start looking at strengths and build on these, rather than falling in the trap of looking at weakness.
After lunch, participants regrouped in their original table to do the summary of their discussions. These were then used for the speed geeking. An hour later, a total of 30 table hosts descended to the open area, carrying flipcharts or their flipchart papers. They created their stands waiting eagerly to present their table's work to other participants.
I think the speed geeking could have gone a bit better, if before the participants made their way downstairs, we would have reminded them what was expected from the table hosts and from the other participants. This said, the outputs were remarkable. I walked to three stands and must say I was quite impressed.
Kudos to the Western and Central Africa for having fully embracing using knowledge sharing methods at their events. This is now the second time. Early this year, they used the same knowledge sharing methods at their community-driven development workshop.
For your reporter, it was an absolutely rewarding day. I hope colleagues back home get a flavour of the richness of this day. Hope I've done justice to the great work that went on today.
Now, we are all getting ready for a well deserverd dinner somewhere near the beach. We'll talk tomorrow. If you feel inspired, please comment on these blogposts.