Insights from the Transformative Scenario Planning Workshop in Mali

31 Jan 2017 - 12:30

By Alcade Segnon and Edmond Totin

A two-day Transformative Scenario Planning (TSP) Workshop, “Agenda for the Future of Agriculture and Food in Koutiala”, was organised by the ASSAR team in Koutiala, Mali from 13 to 14 December 2016, at the premises of AMEDD (L’Association Malienne d’Éveil au Développement Durable).

As a follow-up to the first TSP workshop, which was organised in June 2016, the second workshop aimed to give the ASSAR team and the stakeholders a better understanding of how representatives of district and national level organisations, research centers, NGOs, and farmers associations see the future of agriculture and food systems in Koutiala. In total, 24 stakeholders participated in the workshop.

Workshop participants (Photo credit: Alcade Segnon)

During the TSP workshop in June 2016, participants created four different possible scenarios on how the changing weather patterns, the use of natural resources, political decisions and agricultural development will shape the future by 2035.

After the presentation of the four scenario stories, the participants were grouped into three categories, namely public workers, civil society and farmers. Again, each group developed a vision for the futures of agriculture and food in Koutiala.

Participants developing the vision for the future of agriculture and food in Koutiala – from left to right: Public workers, farmers and a civil society group (Photo credit: Alcade Segnon)

After the presentation of each group’s vision, a plenary discussion followed. Finally, a common vision for the future of agriculture and food systems in Koutiala was developed under the title “By 2035, strategic investments will target agriculture and natural resource conservation to ensure food security and improve households income in the Koutiala Region” (“A l’horizon 2035, faire des investissements dans l’agriculture et la conservation des ressources naturelles afin de garantir la sécurité alimentaire et améliorer le revenu des ménages dans le cercle de Koutiala”).

Participants envisioning the futures of agriculture and food in Koutiala with Kora music in the background (Photo credit: Alcade Segnon)

While soft Kora music played in the background, participants visualised themselves in Koutiala in the future and designed the plausible transformation that could occur by 2035, regarding agriculture and food production. Participants were asked to share their personal future stories in pairs and during a plenary session.

Participants shared personal stories of themselves as part of the common vision for the future (Photo credit: Alcade Segnon)

Following this, the socio-cultural context of the region was analysed to identify the existing windows of opportunity and barriers to the achievement of the designed future vision. In the light of the context analysis, each group of stakeholders identified relevant strategies to be implemented. For each strategy, further analysis was done to explore needed resources, address problems and challenges, which actors to engage with and what short and long term actions needed to be implemented.

Participants developed strategic plans and key actions to achieve the common vision (Photo credit: Alcade Segnon)

Together, the stakeholders identified a range of strategies and actions for achieving the common vision and to respond to the scenarios developed in the first workshop. To prioritise the strategies and key actions, a vote was organised. Each participant had the same number of stickers and was asked to prioritise their actions and strategies. The first three strategies with the highest score were selected and disaggregated into key activities to be implemented.

Example of strategic plan and key actions to achieve the common vision - proposed by the civil society group

Ranking of the strategies identified by the participants to achieve the common vision of the future of agriculture and food in Koutiala (Photo credit: Kadiatou Toure)

The top three strategic actions identified to achieve the common vision of the future of agriculture and food in the Koutiala Region were: improvement of rainwater management on farms; improvement of soil fertility; and promotion of improved seeds.

For each strategy, two participants were nominated to coordinate the implementation. The group agreed to take further steps by implementing some of the strategic actions designed at the scenario workshops, to foster long-term engagement. The project will support part of the pilot activities, expecting that the scenario team and the local authorities will build on these first experiences and take the lead in future.