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CLCP applied to Food Security in West Africa

There I was, together with Farellia, our coach from Madagascar. My first time Ghana. The challenge: facilitate a 4-day workshop on Food Security in West Africa with prominent church leaders and advocacy experts in the region. And we had to facilitate in English and French! The participants generally visit a lot of conferences, often dominated by Power Point shows and presenters that like to talk for hours. As the organizer, the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance said in the opening session: This workshop will be quite different from what you are used to. And it was!

First, we had a SALT visit to a farmers irrigation project. As we were running late, Farellia explained to a full bus the SALT concept and how we could look for strengths instead of the problems. First impressions were good of this ‘SALT’ thing! The community felt incredibly proud to have visitors of so many countries that came to appreciate their work. Standing with my feet on the fertile lands of Ghana made me smile again. What a wonderful continent this is from which we can learn so much.

Then the next day, it was time to take stock of our experiences. We invited people to share their stories of change on Food Security in 3 minutes in small groups. Many faces were surprised? Why should we tell our stories? And why in 3 minutes? Won’t there be any Power Point? OK, they all sat down and shared their story. Then in small groups, they shared more stories of change. Participants listened deeply to each other’s rich experiences. Ranging from how Cameroon stopped the import of frozen chicken to allow local farming to flourish to a story of how a church leader cultivated his own organic vegetable garden to share afterwards with his congregation.

Participants analyzed in depth what was common in their experience and drew out common principles for action. Then 29 participants shared their own story on video. People were amazed by how much they know already. That was only the first day!

The next day, it was time for building our dream for a West Africa that is competent in dealing effectively with its food security concerns. A rich sharing that culminated in a common vision with 14 strategic areas that requires increased competence. It was time for self-assessment. After explaining the five levels of competence through the appropriate practice of ‘farming’, the five groups divided per region had to assess their own competence level.  We all know that self-assessment exercise stimulates discussion, but this one surprised me once more. All groups were in loud, vibrant discussions and didn’t care about dinner time. Practices such as ‘mindful consumption and wastage’ and ‘gender within food security’ elicited a lot of reflection.

At 19.30, the groups finally went for dinner. Interesting to note is that the participants advocated at the hotel for local food as the first day we only ate imported food. The motto was ‘eat what you grow and grow what you eat’, so after discussions with management, we had local food the rest of the week!

The last day was dedicated to rooting food security in a theological framework, which provided the depth in content that many participants were eager to learn. From that inspiration combined with some concrete case study presentations, action planning was started based on the priority practices of each region. They came up with concrete advocacy action plans that the churches could engage in on both national and regional level. As we always see, the actions are creative, locally appropriate and teams take full ownership of them as they are generated step by step by themselves.

For Farellia and I another great experience where we met many friends and received many invitations for future collaboration. And yes, CLCP is also applicable to the issue of Food Security!

For the other photo's, see: 

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Comment by Peter Prove on November 25, 2011 at 9:38am

On behalf of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, thanks to Gaston and Farellia for a small revolution in the way we do capacity building. I have high hopes that the SALT methodology used at our workshop in Accra will produce much more sustainable and self-initiated follow-up among the participants. We're looking forward to working with you again in this and other processes.

Comment by Gaston on November 25, 2011 at 3:06am

Hi Myrna. The process for deciding on practices is fairly simple. Each of the 6 subgroups presented their common dream to the whole group. Farellia and I wrote down all the elements and dimensions that they were mentioning. Then there was a coffee break and we grouped them together, coming up with the key strategic areas or practices. After coffee breaks, we fed these back to the whole group for comments, changes and additions. This went faily quick and there was consensus and all felt ownership of the tool. They could all see their individual dream in there. 


The purpose is not to come up with a perfect self-assessment framework that can be applied to any community or group in the world or that will be published by FAO. The purpose is to have a workable framework that people in the room feel ownership of and that helps them plan for action strategically. 


Does this answer your question? 

Comment by Gerlita Condino-Enrera on November 24, 2011 at 4:49am

Congratulations Gaston and Farelia!!! It shows us that we can really address problems using CLCP and make the communities work together.

Comment by Emmanuelle Bricq on November 23, 2011 at 4:58pm

Génial! Cet atelier devait être super intéressant! Je travaille et m'intéresse beaucoup à la thématique de la souveraineté alimentaire (qui, comme le souligne Myrna, va plus loin que la sécurité alimentaire), c'est un enjeu primordial pour nous tous, au Nord et au Sud de la planète. Je pense que l'approche SALT peut apporter beaucoup pour valoriser les nombreuses forces qui existent et mobiliser les voix paysannes encore trop peu entendues!! Merci!

Comment by Jossef B. Khamara on November 23, 2011 at 12:21pm

wow! That's good.  Is like any body who reads Gaston's blog was on the workshop.

Comment by Myrna A. Maglahus on November 22, 2011 at 5:23pm

I am very very very impressed.  Thank you for sharing the process!  It is like a wake-up call, because sadly, I have fallen back to the trap of participating in "talkshops".  I think I will try to replicate this process with my work.  One question, how did you decide on the "practices"?  Would be helpful to know what process you went through to reach a consensus on practices.  

I had been to Accra.  wonderful people, and very opinionated.  Congratulations to the Ghanaians for finding their strengths!  


FYI.  There is now a concept of "food sovereignty"  instead of "food security".  Simply put, "food security" means that we ensure that there is food for people.  "Food Sovereignty"  means that local communities own and manage programmes and responses on food, and I think our Ghanaian friends are now in the process towards "food sovereignty".   

Comment by Autry Haynes on November 21, 2011 at 12:54pm

Kudos Gaston to you and Farellia! In this part of the world we know of "Buy local, Eat local!"



Comment by Farellia on November 21, 2011 at 12:29pm

Thank you Gaston for sharing! It was indeed a very nice workshop that we had in Accra. The group was wonderful and their values so much in sync with the "SALT approach". Also, it was an occasion for me to participate again in a Constellation event (it's been while ;-) and to co-facilitate for the 1st time with you. Great time ^_^

Comment by Marlou on November 21, 2011 at 9:42am

Thanks Gaston! A fantastic application - and good that Farellia and you encouraged the sharing of real experiences from the start. Eat what you grow and grow what you eat - very applicable in any place of the world! Here in France there is an initiative 'La Ruche Qui dit Oui' that brings together local producers and families from the area to provide an alternative to the big supermarket chains where food is coming a long way, less fresh and much more expensive. Wanted to share that as a good practice :). for inspiration.

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