African KM4Dev Community Week - Buddying process between Davide Piga and Marc Lepage

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This page is related to the African KM4Dev Community Week

Buddying team


Since the Dakar community is much more developed than the one in Nairobi, we focused on the experience of the Dakar community and identified elements that make that group stand out from the broader KM4Dev crowd. In particular, two issues were highlighted:

  • The group is francophone - they are not comfortable running discussions in English. This is an issue that remains valid for all the West Africa, which is an important part of the African group.
  • In francophone West Africa there is a strong oral tradition - the written format is a limit to their participation. Also, oral storytelling is difficult to document and re-use.

We discussed about ways to address these issues, and identified a possible solution in organizing multi-lingual oral storytelling events, using online conferencing software.

How does it work?

Davide has had experience running similar sessions with Blackboard Collaborate, an online conferencing service that has a few key features:

  • Good performance in low bandwidth conditions (common problem in Africa)
  • No need to install software (it’s based on java, which usually comes pre-installed)
  • Interactive whiteboard (possibility to show presentations)
  • Contextual chat tool (can be used for translations)
  • Recorded sessions (for documenting the sessions)

The proposed structure of the online sessions is:

Before the session

Choose a topic

  1. Anyone in KM4Dev can propose a topic to discuss in an online session.
  2. The topic is submitted to both SAGE and KM4Dev.
    • If there is interest in both, the session will be multi-lingual.
    • If there is interest in SAGE only, the session will be in French only.
Note: there is no need to define thematic boundaries, one can choose any topic relevant to KM4Dev. Thought it was observed that, in KM4Dev, the intellectual point of view on KM is always interesting, but country level experiences are probably more relevant to the actual work of the members.

Prepare a short presentation

The person who proposed the topic prepares a short presentation to introduce the discussion. Since session lasts about 1,5 hour, ideally the presentation should be about 20 minutes long, to leave enough time for a good discussion.

During the session

A facilitator helps running the whole session. The facilitator is not the presenter: while the presenter focuses on the "content", the facilitator coordinates the session and makes sure that the discussion flows.


The presenter starts the session by showing the presentation.

If the session is multi-lingual, the presenter speaks in his own language, in short sentences. After each sentence, an interpreter translates. Meanwhile, another person summarizes what is said in the chat, in English.


A discussion follows the presentation, in the form of a Q&A session. The facilitator moderates.

After the session

The recorded session is uploaded to the wiki and organized and tagged with a taxonomy, together with a short summary prepared by the presenter.

If the session is multi-lingual, the summary is translated and uploaded to the wiki in both French and English.


  • African francophone community is involved
  • Oral storytelling is integrated in KM4Dev as an opportunity, rather than a problem
  • The sessions are documented and made available on the wiki, with a minimum effort (a short summary)

The same method can be used for the global KM4Dev group, it doesn’t need to be limited to Africa. It would be a parallel way to run discussions in KM4Dev.

Note: the method is inspired by the “Weeks in Focus” format, designed and used by UNEP in the context of the MDG-Fund, to facilitate knowledge sharing among 17 UN Joint Programmes on Environment and Climate Change. More info here. Also, see a sample of a session summarized and categorized on a wiki.