Workshop and interview formats Print

The following guidelines were prepared for use in all study sites for the final workshop, in which experimental and modelling results and remediation recommendations were reviewed with the stakeholders.

1.    Workshop Format



Local stakeholder workshops will take one day



The workshops will combine presentations of results with participatory methods to engage participants in evaluating trial results and model outputs, and formulating recommendations for policy and practice. As such, they represent an opportunity to both disseminate findings and collect new information on model output evaluation and policy recommendations. The workshop will focus on:

  • Sharing and evaluating results from WB4 trials of remediation options that were prioritised during the previous WB3 workshop
  • Sharing and evaluating results from WB5 models which show how the remediation options can be applied throughout the local area, taking into account the physical limitations and socio-economic assessment criteria
  • Selecting and/or prioritising remediation options for wider dissemination/application and making lists of recommendations relevant to stakeholders at local, up to national scales, that can facilitate their widespread adoption


The following inputs and materials need to be prepared before the workshop can be conducted:

  1. Presentation of the DESIRE project
  2. Presentation of WB4 trial results
  3. Presentation of WB5 model outputs
  4. Overview of criteria used in WB3
  5. Computer(s) with Facilitator software installed
  6. Flip-chart, tape, markers (overhead projector pens), post-it notes, sticky dots


Structure during the day [with indicative timing of elements between brackets]:


Brief presentation to introduce the DESIRE project [09:30] (there may be new participants present and for those who have engaged with the project previously, a re-cap will be useful context): this should include a general overview of the project, a summary of results from WB1-WB3, focussing in particular on a) the state of land degradation and conservation efforts in the study area (WB1); b) assessment of land degradation according to indicators (WB2); and c) the reasons why remediation options were chosen for trial (explaining the criteria that were chosen by WB3 workshop participants and the results of the multi-criteria evaluation that was done then)


Presentation of WB4 trial results [09:45] (presentation to be compiled in advance by study site teams) Either: a) study site teams include a pre-evaluation based on stakeholder opinion of those engaged in monitoring; or b) allow time for stakeholders who were involved in monitoring to express their experience and opinions.


Presentation of WB5 model outputs [10:05] showing which remediation options are most applicable and most likely to be adopted where, across each study site. These will be pre-prepared as Powerpoint slides by the WB5 team (which can be printed as posters where projection equipment is not available). Model outputs will include analyses of feasibility vs. spatial assessment of desertification risk (WB2). Furthermore, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, outputs will be focussed according to priorities expressed by stakeholders in their selection of criteria for Multi-Criteria Evaluation in WB3 (e.g. showing which remediation options would be most likely to be adopted by the poorest in the community (e.g. with no need for up-front costs) in Botswana where poverty alleviation was an important criteria expressed in WB3, rather than focussing on which options would most likely maximise farmer profits, as prioritised in other sites like Spain)

 4. Workshop: Multi-criteria evaluation of remediation options at study site scale [10:20]
a. Revisit criteria used in WB3 – do we need to add new criteria (or drop certain criteria that are no longer deemed relevant) in light of what’s been learned so far today, and to ensure we can evaluate remediation options at a study site scale? For example, there may be criteria used in the model and presented in maps in the previous presentation that were not considered during WB3, which participants may want to include in the decision-making process [25 min].
b. In light of WB4 and 5 findings, do a Multi-criteria evaluation using revised criteria, to prioritise which remediation options (tested in WB4 and/or modelled in WB5) are most relevant for dissemination across the study site:

Using the Facilitator software (used in WB3 workshops – see WB3 training manual for instructions), enter relevant criteria and remediation options. In sites where only one option has been trialled and/or modelled, this should still be done, as a structured way of enabling everyone to evaluate the benefits/drawbacks of the technology. For study sites with a larger number of technologies to consider, it could be worthwhile splitting the stakeholder group to make separate evaluations along such lines as arable crops vs. tree crops, flatland vs. sloping land, livestock vs. cropping, etc. – whichever is a major distinction locally affecting applicability of selected technologies. Splitting the group is not advisable if this leads to low numbers of participants [45 min].


Participants evaluate each option by each criterion individually, and group results are displayed, ranking the most popular remediation options and showing why these were deemed most relevant for dissemination (see instructions in WB3 manual for details of how to do this) [45 min] – inputting scores and deriving results from the facilitator software may take some time, so you may need to break for lunch at this point, and discuss the outputs (next step) immediately after lunch


[This may need to be done immediately after lunch] Discuss the ranked list that emerges from the Facilitator software. Should all remediation options be disseminated, prioritising certain options? Or should some options not be further disseminated (the cut off point at which options are dropped can only be decided through discussion). Or should certain options that appear to be ranked lower than others only be promoted to certain groups in certain areas? This will result in a list of priority remediation options that excludes any options deemed inappropriate for further dissemination [45 min].
Note that two specific situations may occur (a flowchart decision aid tool is available to verify these):


In some study sites, multiple (or all!) trialled remediation options may be prioritised for dissemination – in this case, the important information from this analysis is understanding why different options have been prioritised, so that this can inform the development of strategies to promote these options (see step 5 below).


If none of the remediation options that were trialled and modelled are deemed appropriate for dissemination, the following workshop (step 5) should be replaced by a session which focuses instead on the reasons why they were not deemed appropriate, in order to: i) identify ways that remediation options could be adapted to make them more acceptable/effective; and/or ii) identify alternative remediation options that are less likely to have the problems associated with the options that were trialled and modelled. Potentially, stakeholders are not convinced by scientific results (e.g. trials of insufficient length) – this is another direction that the discussion might take.


Workshop: how could we facilitate the adoption of the priority remediation options that have emerged at the study site scale? [14:00] This may be done very simply using a “meta-plan” followed by a “sticky dot prioritisation” (in study sites where people are largely illiterate or don’t feel comfortable writing other techniques may be substituted for this – see Section 5 below). An important element of the technique proposed here is to ensure that all participants have their say in a transparent and fair way, and to enable this to happen in a limited amount of time (just discussing this question will take much longer, and may lead to dominant characters biasing results):


Stick at least 4 sheets of flip-chart paper together on the wall (use more if you have a large group to provide plenty of room), and write the question you want people to answer at the top of the paper e.g. “How could we facilitate the adoption of the priority remediation options we’ve identified?” (ideally in less technical language!). Note that facilitating adoption is about taking advantage of opportunities, i.e. eliminating threats. Hence this workshop will give important information on the constraints and opportunities perceived by stakeholders [10 min]


Give all participants 3-5 post-it notes (for small groups 10-15, give people 4 or 5 each, but if group is over 20, only give out 3 each)


Give all participants an Over Head Projector (OHP) pen (something that’s bold enough to be seen from a distance, but fine enough to enable people to write something meaningful in such a small space)


Ask participants to answer the question on the wall, including only one point per post-it in as few words as possible, making their writing large enough to be read from a distance. They can write up to the maximum number of post-its you gave them (3-5 post-its) but don’t have to fill all their post-its [15 min]


As people finish writing their points, ask them to come and stick them on the wall, putting different points in different places, first looking at what else has been written, and putting their points next to points that are similar. Emphasise that people can discuss with each other as they come to the wall, and can move each other’s points around if they want [30 min]


Go through each of the groups of post-its that emerge in turn, suggesting what theme the post-its represent (e.g. “all these post-its are talking about different ways of subsidising remediation options”), reading out a sample of the post-its in the group, and checking if the group agrees with the way you’ve summarised the points. Be prepared to split the group up or put it with another group of post-its, if participants think this is necessary. Then circle each group of post-its in turn, writing in large letters the title/theme of the group. The themes thus evolved together constitute the “meta-plan” [20 min]


Finally, give everyone 10 sticky dots (available from any stationer – or just tell people to put crosses next to each idea but warn them to keep count and not use more than 10 crosses) – it is important that everyone has the same number of dots. Ask them to stick their dots next to the groups of ideas they like best (for whatever reason) – they can stick as many as they like next to any point (if they only think there’s one good idea, they can put all 10 next to one group of post-its). This final part of the exercise can potentially be done over a coffee break [20 min]


Count up the sticky dots (or crosses) and rank the ideas [10 min]


If there is time, you can then facilitate a discussion about the advantages and disadvantages, and practical steps that can be taken for the top ranked ideas, to make them happen in practice [45 min]


Workshop evaluation [16:30]: Take a moment to evaluate the workshop in order to get feedback on the process used and the participants’ opinion on the importance of the project’s results.


Evaluation of the role scientific results from the project have played to arrive at individual evaluations by stakeholders on each criterion (step 4b – ii). Write each criterion on top of a sheet of flip-chart paper. Draw a table with three rows below it and write respectively ‘no’, ‘little’ and ‘much’ in them. Ask the participants to walk around and put one sticky dot (or cross) per sheet to characterise how much the scientific results from the project have influenced their evaluation of the remediation options.


Facilitate a round of open comments on what people thought about the workshop and the rest of the DESIRE process over the last 4 years (all WBs). The comments/remarks may generate a rich qualitative feedback (nice quotes).


Next steps [16:50]: Before finishing the workshop, explain what the next steps will be – at minimum, this will involve them all receiving a workshop report specifically targeted to local stakeholders. This should include contact details for participants (with their permission) or external parties that can be contacted by people requiring advice on how to adopt/implement any of the technologies discussed.  A number of other actions are likely to have emerged during the workshop, which should be documented, and people should be assigned to these actions with deadlines. One of these actions should be a clear dissemination (product) of the most promising strategies; when we want the most promising strategie(s) to be implemented and the word spread around in the area, clear guidelines should be issued on how to implement measures and how to manage implemented measures. This could be done in the form of a brochure in the language for farmers. We must prevent that the stakeholders (especially farmers) involved, having invested a lot of their precious time, end up with the feeling: ‘and now what?’. Farmers and landowners are the most important group here, in the sense they are the people who have to implement strategies on their land. They should get the feeling that an optimized end product has been produced, that can really be used in practice.


2.    Interview format



Allow for a minimum of two hours.



The interviews with at least three representative district and national level members of the policy community, will focus on:

  • Sharing and evaluating the results of the local stakeholder workshop (above)
  • Sharing and evaluating WB5 model outputs showing the likely effects of a range of policy scenarios (this may be done before the results of the first session are shared, if this is deemed a more logical order by study sites)
  • Discussing how priority remediation options could be disseminated and promoted at district and/or national scales, using WB5 policy scenarios as a starting point



  • Schedule an individual meeting with at least three different key policy stakeholders: identify the key policy stakeholders from the stakeholder analysis (after having received feedback from the WB5 coordination team). If appropriate, ask them to organize a lunch-time seminar internal to their institution in which you will present the findings from the local stakeholder workshop and policy scenarios, including an interactive discussion element.
  • Pre-workshop stakeholder information: time available during an interview is likely to be limited. A folder with brief information about the DESIRE project, the context of the interview and results of the local stakeholder workshop could be sent out together with the invitation to participate in an interview, serving both to raise interest and to inform participants beforehand.
  • Presentation of results from the local stakeholder workshop and WB5 policy scenarios: a brief presentation introducing the framework within which the local stakeholder workshop was operated and what conclusions were drawn, and the regional effects of policy scenarios, prioritised where possible in relation to information from WB1.


Structure of the interview:

  1. Brief presentation of the results of the local stakeholder workshop and WB5 policy scenarios [30 min]. The presentation should finish with the results from step 5 of the Workshop format: a preferred list of strategies to facilitate adoption of prioritised remediation technologies.
  2. Allow questions and discussion [15 min], to be recorded and differences of opinion noted. Keep this reasonably short, as you want to get structured views of policy makers on what they suggest should be the strategy (d)
  3. Ask the question: “How could we facilitate the adoption of the priority remediation options from the previous session at a study site and up to a national scale?” [5 min] Revisit the preferred list of strategies from the local stakeholder workshop and WB5 policy scenarios simulating their regional effects, and invite the audience (individual or group) to add elements as the audience represents the same stakeholder, equal individual presentation is not an issue but if differences of opinion exist between them this should be recorded)
  4. Ask the audience to distribute 10 points over the list of suggested strategies [10 min]
  5. Follow up with discussion [45 min] what the advantages and disadvantages are of the top-ranked ideas, and what policy actions need to be taken, how feasible that is, and what their role is in ensuring long-term adoption of the research results (cf. Workshop format, 5i)
  6. Next steps [15 min]: Before finishing the meeting, explain what the next steps will be – at minimum, this will involve your promise to send your host a policy brief after you have taken into account the comments of various policy level stakeholders. A number of other actions are likely to have emerged during the meeting, which should be documented, and people should be assigned to these actions with deadlines.

3.    Alternative set-ups for the Local Stakeholder Workshop


The following is a list of considerations for which a Flowchart is available to aid planning the workshop. Two phases are distinguished: i) considerations while preparing the workshop; and ii) considerations emerging during the workshop. The Flowchart itself is a digital attachment to this guide (Powerpoint file); Appendix C includes a form to keep track of Flowchart recommendations for planning.


Considerations while preparing the workshop:
Size of the study site:

  • Some study sites may be too large for local stakeholders (or an important group of local stakeholders such as individual farmers) to have an overview of the suitability of different remediation options across the area. Where this is the case, special attention needs to be paid to geographical representation of stakeholders, i.e. to make sure that the participants as a whole are informed about the total area. A section of the flowchart will address this issue.

The flowchart will also guide study sites through questions determining whether the workshop format of step 4 and 5 is culturally or practically appropriate. So far the following alternative set-ups will be supported:

  • If (some) stakeholders are illiterate; take care to select a good facilitator who can express things clearly and who is sensitive to the information needs of (some) stakeholders. A pre-assessment of remediation options by study site teams with a few stakeholders (e.g. those involved in monitoring) might serve to identify the themes likely to evolve from step 5e and visual aids may be developed prior to the workshop to support stakeholder comprehension. If less than half of the participants are expected to be illiterate (and if it is not embarrassing for individuals), writing up of comments can be done in pairs, or moderated by the facilitator (in this case it is important to give equal attention to all participants). Also go through the other flowcharts to identify if any of the other issues apply to your site.
  • If it is culturally not acceptable to express individual thoughts in written form, or if in the local culture discussion prevails over the suggested workshop format; a good facilitator is needed who can collect all points (paying equal attention to all) and then prepares the themes of step 5e for sticky dot voting.
  • If certain stakeholders have difficulties expressing themselves plenary (e.g. women do not speak out in front of men), the facilitator has a decisive role to play! Let (preferably) groups of people (according to type of stakeholder) raise their points, the facilitator first just collects all the ideas (post-its; which in some cases might need reformulation), and then groups the different points (aggregating those belonging together etc) in a plenary discussion (step 5e-f). It will be important to point out where different stakeholders agree, but also where there is disagreement, inconsistencies, contradictions etc.
  • If sticky dot voting is not well adapted to the local customs; alternative systems which are familiar to stakeholders can be adopted (e.g. scoring using beans as was mentioned for Botswana)
  • If open sticky dot voting could be problematic for (some) stakeholders; creative alternatives should be plenty, e.g. handing out 10 flat paper fiches to be deposited in closed boxes representing the various options by each participant, or a A4 paper with the options listed in table form with boxes to write any combination of numbers summing up to 10 privately (and to be deposited anonymously in a box if required).


Considerations arising during the workshop:

  • Most of the issues that might arise during the workshop should, based on your knowledge of the area and experience in conducting WB3 workshops, be possible to consider while preparing the workshop. However, should you unexpectedly be confronted with any problems as sketched above on the day itself, re-run through the flowchart to change strategy real-time.
  • One consideration you cannot plan ahead is what to do when multiple or none of the remediation technologies are evaluated favourably. The flowchart will suggest to focus the discussion following evaluation accordingly, and to replace step 5 with an alternative session if none of the technologies is recommended.




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