Training Materials

Guidelines for conducting participatory WOCAT Decision Support workshops

About this guideline

The present guideline is a working instrument for use in moderating the stakeholder workshops in the target villages. It is designed to support the moderators in guiding the process of mutual reflection and exchange by workshop participants. At the same time, it is a baseline document to be used in the training of trainers.
The guideline suggests a basic structure and a series of consecutive steps (exercises) that will help to reach the workshop objectives as described above. It deals with the technical steps that have to be performed to reach a group decision. 
Annex 1 suggests an additional optional exercise about Integrated Farming Systems, which can be conducted, if you feel they are relevant for the local context.


Objectives of the decision support stakeholder (DSS) workshop are:
1. To jointly assess and select relevant SLM technologies for implementation on demonstration plots, farmer to farmer exchange, and training; and
2. To strengthen trust, dialogue and collaboration among concerned stakeholders.


The methodology is based on participatory principles. The moderators guide the group through a series of consecutive steps that assist the stakeholders to voice and exchange their ideas on which 
SLM technologies are most promising to be implemented on demonstration plots, to be used in farmer-to-farmer exchanges and trainings.

Selecting workshop participants

The workshops are hold with a group composed of different stakeholders; ideally about 12-20 people, plus the moderator(s). Backgrounds of workshop participants should be as diverse as possible to 
ensure that they reflect the various facets of sustainable land management decisions to be taken. When selecting workshop participants, include 1 - 2 researchers (NAFRI), 2 - 4 extension workers
(provincial and/or district, and community level) as well as 6 – 10 knowledgeable farmer representatives and local authorities from the local context (village, or group of villages with similar 
land use and land degradation problems). Workshop participants are supposed to be mixed in terms of age, gender, and stakeholder group. Depending on the cultural context, it might for some exercises or discussions be favourable if men and women work in separate groups to encourage women to actively participate and speak out their opinion. However, if you opt for working in separate groups, you have to make sure that the results of both groups are being shared and considered.

Workshop duration, timing, and location

The suggested duration of a stakeholder workshop is 2 days (may be split in several half-days, if convenient). We suggest splitting the workshop as indicated in the schedule below, i.e. after 
Exercise 4 a break is needed in order to have enough time to prepare for Exercise 5 and 6. This should also be considered if you decide to split the workshop in half-days.
When planning workshops, please schedule it in times, when farmers have less workload, and consider gender differences in daily schedules to foster participation of both, women and men.
Organize stakeholder workshops in the village, as it is much easier to create a relaxed and trustful working atmosphere if the workshop is held in the community itself, where local participants feel at home.

Workshop moderators

Facilitators of the workshop are 2-3 moderators, who were trained in applying the participatory DSS methodology. 
Requirements for workshop moderators
A moderator of the stakeholder workshop should meet the following requirements:
• to be familiar with moderation techniques and participatory methods; this includes familiarity with the contents of this guideline;
• to have some degree of expert knowledge on land use systems, livelihood strategies, and the SLM technologies actually and potentially applied in the project region;
• to be familiar with local conditions (socio-cultural, bio-physical, land use, land degradation and conservation, etc.);
• to have a trustful relationship with involved stakeholder groups;
• to have communication skills and speak the local language of the target villages;
• to have didactical skills; and
• to have conflict management skills

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Source: LaoCAT, National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute (NAFRI), MAF

Author: LaoCAT, WOCAT