Training Trainers: ECHO West Africa 2015 Networking Forum

“Hungry to learn” and “excited to share” are only some of the phrases used to describe attendees of ECHO’s third biennial West African Networking Forum. But you would have to say “soif d’apprendre”, and “heureux de partager” because this forum was held entirely in French to better meet the needs of practitioners across Francophone West Africa. A complimentary English Forum was held in March in Accra, Ghana. (For more on that Forum, see pages 7-8)

Held this January in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, the Forum offered large-group presentations, hands-on workshops, and smaller breakout sessions for in-depth coverage of various topics. 

128 participants came from the following countries: Burkina Faso, Mali, Benin, Togo, Chad, Senegal, Niger, Nigeria, Ghana, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and the USA. 

Every attendee went home with their own special memories. Here are a few of our favorite highlights of the event: 

•    Jean Apedoh, who first learned about the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) through an ECHO Forum in 2010, was this year’s SRI Specialist presenting at the 2015 Forum. Through ECHO’s introduction of the topic and support, collaboration with other organizations in the region, and his own personal initiative, Jean says, “ECHO made me a champion and regional specialist in SRI.”

•    Emile Sanou and Josué Baya are also learners-turned-trainers who shared their experiences implementing Foundations for Farming (FFF) in a large group presentation and a hands-on afternoon workshop. 

•    The session on Biogas production presented by ECHO’s Alain Gouba was the most popular afternoon workshop with over 40 attendees. Alain was able to share a biogas system that was made completely with locally available materials. 

•    One attendee who at the 2010 and 2012 Forums learned about Moringa, paid for a display table and sold at least ten distinct Moringa products that he and his wife are now producing. These ranged from Moringa powder capsules and shampoo to dehydrated food packets that can be added to sauces.

•    Before the mid-morning break on the first day of the Forum, the French version of Agricultural Options for Small-Scale Farmers book from ECHO was introduced, and it literally took two minutes to sell out. Others have signed up on the waiting list so that when a new stock is available they will be able to receive one. 

We are thrilled that these individuals are taking the education and training available through ECHO and multiplying it far beyond ECHO’s reach. Together, we are truly training trainers.