Managing Power Conflicts and Resolving Bourgou Conflicts

Trip Report
1-18 October 2001
SANREM CRSP – West Africa

Conflict Resolution and Holistic Management Workshops
4 – 10 October 2001

Jeff Goebel, Goebel and Associates;
Keith M. Moore, OIRD/Virginia Tech; and
Ahmed Nadif, West Africa Pilot Pastoral Project/Chad

Executive Summary

The primary objective for this SANREM CRSP-West Africa mission was to develop a NRMAC capacity for restitution of training activities at the village level. The substantive objective of the training was to facilitate the process of bourgoutière restoration through development of a model protocol for monitoring social and ecological progress. In addition, work on drafts for the SANREM CRSP Conference was conducted.

Three workshops were held. (1) Using the Consensus Building Process for Evaluation was a day long review and planning session among technical assistance providers and SANREM CRSP partners (Virginia Tech, Goebel Associates, CRRA/Mopti, and CARE/Djenné). (2) Managing Power Conflicts was the second workshop held over two days in the village of Madiama with the Commune-level Natural Resource Management Advisory Committee (NRMAC). (3) Confronting and Successfully Resolving the Bourgou Regeneration Conflict was a three-day conflict management and resolution workshop led by members of the NRMAC with back-up assistance from SANREM CRSP trainiers in the village of Bangassi where they are developing a process for bourgou (E. Stagnina) regeneration and management in one of the villages mares. In addition to NRMAC members, 5 village-level bourgou regeneration committee members each from Bangassi and Teguéngé participated in the training. Jeff Goebel led the training activities with the assistance of Keith Moore and Ahmed Nadif.

A list of the evidence that the best possible outcomes are already occuring in the Commune of Madiama.

– Participation of the population in the search for greater control of the development process

– Establishment and reinforcement of the capacities of the NRMAC

– Several village level discussion meetings initiated by the NRMAC around the bourgoutières

– Good relations (Protocol of partnership) between the NRMAC and the Communal authorities

– Emergence of some community leaders with developing leadership skills

– Initiation of activities to regenerate natural resources (i.e., bourgoutière protocols)

– Signature of a protocol of partnership with CARE/Djenné

– Leaders putting community interests before individual interests (community spirit)

– Adoption of techniques diffused by research

– Utilization of radio programs for the diffusion of NRMAC information

– Definition of their own Goal

– Mobilization of the internal resources (membership cards and contributions)

Monday, 1 October 2001

Keith Moore arrived in Bamako on Air France Flight 760 at 15:30 and checked into the Hotel Le Loft.

Tuesday, 2 October 2001

15:20 Senou Airport

Mme Gamby provided her car and driver so that Keith could go to the airport and pick up Jeff Goebel. Jeff Goebel’s plane arrived only a few minutes late and he had all of his luggage.

Keith worked on email and tried to call Mopti and Djenné (without success). Jeff and Keith had dinner and Ahmed Nadif arrived from the airport without his luggage.

Wednesday, 3 October 2001

Keith contacted Salmana and told him that we would be arriving in Djenné that evening. He said he would try to get to Djenné workshop on Thursday. He had informed Abdoulaye and Abdoulaye was announcing the workshop activities to the committee.

8:00 We departed the hotel to get Ordre de Mission, car insurance, and collect Nadif’s luggage at the airport. All was accomplished by noon except the luggage.

We arrived after dark in Djenné, had dinner and discussed preparations for the following day’s workshop with Abdoulaye Touré.

Thursday, 4 October 2001

9:00 CARE/Djenné Office

We greeted Moussa Sangaré and the CARE staff with Abdoulaye, then left for the CARE Guesthouse for workshop.

10:00 CARE Guesthouse – Djenné

WORKSHOP ONE – Using the Consensus Building Process for Evaluation

Purpose: Recreate a written holistic goal document

Evaluation of progress

Develop next strategies

Demonstrate use of Consensus Building process for Evaluation

Participants included: Abdoulaye Touré, and another staff member, CARE; Salmana Cissé, Ibrahima Diallo, and Issa Kané, IER; Keith Moore, OIRD/Virginia Tech; Ahmed Nadif, PPPOA-Chad; and Jeff Goebel, Goebel Associates.

A need existed to develop some form of written long-range goal for SANREM-West Africa-initiated Natural Resource Management Advisory Committee (NRMAC). Since the last conflict resolution training had been over a year ago, an opportunity was initiated to evaluate progress to date, based on the long-range goal, and identifying the next possible strategies and actions to continuing fostering the long-range goal. This one-day workshop was held in Djenné. Participants are noted above. The workshop began, as always, with a grounding, greeting circle, and an adaptive learning exercise describing the learning resulting from doing the greeting circle.

Next, two questions were asked, to reconstruct the long-range goal of SANREM-West Africa developed over a year ago during the workshop on managing conflicts resulting from scarce resources (see The two questions were: “What is the Best Possible Outcomes in 1-2 years for the Commune and SANREM Project?” And “What is the Best Possible Outcomes in 10 to 50 years for the Commune and SANREM Project?” The group noted several items on newsprint.

The notes were first used to develop a “Collective Statement” (see Annex A: Developing a collective statement). During the second workshop, the Committee used the Collective Statements, written in Bambara, to create a Consensus Statement (see Annex B: Developing a consensus statement).

Once the best possible outcome, or long-range goal, was developed by the group, the next question was asked and recorded on newsprint. This question is “What is the evidence that the Best Possible Outcomes are Already Occuring?” Here are the comments from the notes:

Evidence that the Best Possible Outcomes are Already Occurring

– Participation of the population in the search for greater control of the development process

– Establishment and reinforcement of the capacities of the NRMAC

– Several village level discussion meetings initiated by the NRMAC around the bourgoutières

– Good relations (Protocol of partnership) between the NRMAC and the Communal authorities

– Emergence of some community leaders with developing leadership skills

– Initiation of activities to regenerate natural resources (i.e., bourgoutière protocols)

– Signature of a protocol of partnership with CARE/Djenné

– Leaders putting community interests before individual interests (community spirit)

– Adoption of techniques diffused by research

– Utilization of radio programs for the diffusion of NRMAC information

– Definition of their own Goal

– Mobilization of the internal resources (membership cards and contributions)

Following this activity, the group was then asked to explore the next strategies and actions to continue fostering the best possible outcomes. Here is the list generated from this activity.

Strategies and Actions to Continue Fostering the Best Possible Outcomes

– To provide training throughout the local population

– Regularly hold meetings and report on activities conducted

– To train organizers at the local level to train the villagers and to monitor them

– Assuring responsible NRMAC members and monitoring them

– Extension of the some techniques at the village level

– Dialogue at the communal level (integration of the production activities: agriculture, livestock, fishing)

– Integrating transhumants in the dialogue

– Inter-communal dialogue

– Increase the number of exchange trips and study tours

The day ended with the Adaptive Learning activity to allow people to express their feelings about the day and what they learned from the day to make SANREM-West Africa successful. The final activity was developing a collective statement to be used in the second workshop to develop a consensus statement about the long-range goals for SANREM-West Africa.

The IER staff members returned to Mopti and Madiama, respectively. Keith synthesized the best outcomes listings and developed a prose format for them without loosing the original sense of each listed outcome. Nadif then transformed that raw material into a clean set of four paragraphs describing where the NRMAC was going, again retaining the originally intended meanings.

Friday, 5 October 2001

9:00 Madiama School

Greetings were conducted as committee members arrived. Keith spoke with three of the four committee members who went to Chad. The fourth member had sent a replacement. Due to the late notice of the meeting, only half of the members were able to attend. They said that the experience was very valuable. Jeff began the Power workshop about 10:30 with a grounding (introduction, expectations, feelings) and then a greeting circle. Toka (a Djenné student) translated for Jeff, assisted by Abdoulaye Touré. In this way, Keith and Ahmed could be involved with the small groups. The school room acoustics were noisy and the group did not really settle down. Nevertheless, progress was made because they work well together and could complete their assigned tasks, despite the distractions. We broke into small groups and discussed what is power and how each of us feels about it. At 14:00, we broke for lunch and Friday prayers.

WORKSHOP TWO – Managing Power Conflicts

Purpose: To create a sense of empowerment within the Committee to spread training

To understand the importance of fostering a sense of equity and removing power issues when resolving conflicts

This workshop was designed to help create a sense of empowerment within the Committee to spread the SANREM work throughout the villages and the region. This workshop was also designed to develop an understanding for the participants about the dynamics of power conflicts, which can simultaneously exist while confronting and resolving various conflict issues.

The workshop began with a downpour of rain. We were told it is a good sign when a meeting or event starts with a rainstorm. Jeff began the workshop by having one of the participants lead the grounding and another lead the greeting circle. There was some confusion with the grounding questions. The question of defining power was asked during the grounding, although Jeff would have preferred that it were asked later. In any case, the question was asked again when the appropriate time occurred, even though it was redundant. It was important to ask the question again before addressing the issues relating to power.

We broke the large group into four small groups. They completed the adaptive learning questions. Next, Jeff used a visual demonstration to show what he meant when he was talking about conflict, power, conforming, and sabotage.

Step 1: Define power

What is your definition of power?

How do you feel about it?

Next, Jeff formed a panel of powerful people including Keith representing the United States, Abdoulaye Touré representing a major NGO (CARE) and regional overseer of the SANREM project, the Assistant Mayor, and the NRMAC Committee President. They answered the questions “What is your definition of power?” and “How do you feel about it?” After the panel presented, Jeff honored them and had the rest of the participants answer the same questions. The panel members were the first facilitators.

Step 2: The Evidence of Power Struggles in the environment:

What is the evidence of a power struggle in your environment?

Question three had each group identifying the evidence of power struggles within various groups, such as families, between the young and old, within the country of Mali and between ethnic groups.

Step 3: The Evidence of Power Struggles between groups in our environment:

Within families, between young & old, within a country, between ethnic groups

The small groups then addressed the questions: What is the evidence that a power struggle exists between the youth and the adults, or resource departments and the tribal council? How do you feel about it?

This was the end of day one. Since this was a holy day, we ended early so they could pray. Jeff was frustrated with the progress we were making and spent a lot of time that afternoon and evening identifying the obstacles and developing a strategy to make the second day more successful. The obstacles to effective learning were the long-time between training resulting in a lack of consistency, the room structure and the heavy rain made the room very noisy, the desk-chair combination was very confining and limiting, the first facilitator’s example to begin session with was not the best role modeling including his asking the extra question for the grounding about power, and translation issues. We learned Toka’s native language was Foulani, not Bambara, which is the dominant language and Toka had limited life experiences as a reference point for communicating concepts about power from English to Bambara. Toka needed to go to school the second day so another strategy was devised to be successful.

Jeff, Nadif and I discussed the day’s training and the slow progress made. We decided that there were a couple of things that could be done to facilitate more efficient progress. The change decided upon was to reinforce the mastery of roles: facilitators, recorders and participants.

Saturday, 6 October 2001

9:00 Madiama School

We began on time and moved efficiently through the training lessons on Power. An additional four committee members joined the workshop and they were welcomed. We reinforced practice in the roles of facilitator, recorder and participants and assured that nearly everyone had the opportunity to practice these skills. The dynamic of the group continued to improve. Committee members are comfortable with each other and attack each group activity with intensity and mutual respect. We worked in small groups for most of the day. Stronger members provide space and opportunity for others to grow, while assuring high quality contributions of the groups as a whole. By lunch (14:00), Jeff had completed the Power workshop program. Everyone was very enthused and pleased about their progress.

Step 4: The worst possible outcomes if the struggle is not resolved:

What are the worst possible outcomes if the power struggles are not resolved?

We began as usual with a grounding, but did not do a greeting circle. Participants returned to their small groups from the previous day. There were a couple additional people who weren’t notified of the workshop in time to participate on the first day, which were assigned to each group. In their small groups, each with a different power conflict theme assigned from the previous day, were asked what are the worst possible outcomes if the power struggles are not resolved.

Step 5: A Visual Activity in Balancing Power

At this point Jeff showed them some visual demonstrations about balancing power. First, on a sheet of paper, they each drew a circle representing themselves and another circle, representing someone who was less powerful, indicating the relationship of distance and size of those circles. Jeff demonstrated his circles on the chalkboard signifying his relationship to his sons. Next, they were asked to draw another set of circles indicating the relationship of someone more powerful than them. Size and distance are two ways we equalize the power between unequal parties.

Jeff next demonstrated a story of power escalation using a big man and a small framed woman. Jeff told them this was a story from the United States in which a woman representing a women’s group wanted to farm more land. She approached the Lands Chief, represented by the large man. When the woman came to the center of the circle, she at first positioned herself naturally about ten feet away from the man. We could sense the discomfort of being close. Nevertheless, to demonstrate this concept for the group, Jeff brought her to within three feet of the man. She wanted to face away from him, which forced Jeff to keep turning her.

Jeff told the group that this woman in the United States did not feel very comfortable being this close and asked her to move to where she felt comfortable. She moved to the edge of the circle of chairs. He asked if that was comfortable and she said no, it’s just where the chairs stopped her from moving further. So, Jeff had her move to where she could feel comfortable and she moved outside of the room with her head peering in from behind the door. This surprised the man who didn’t realize he had such power and made her feel so uncomfortable. Distance is one way to equalize power.

She was then brought back to within three feet of the man. Jeff said if you can’t move away, could you pick someone from the group who would help you feel comfortable in close proximity. She picked another large man, identified as the Deputy Land Chief from the United States example. Well, this made the Lands Chief and Deputy feel uncomfortable because the Deputy was “his” man. So, Jeff had him sit down. Jeff also mentioned that the Lands Chief was intimidated by this woman because he knew she was married to the religious leader (Imam) and though she didn’t realize his discomfort, he did.

Next, Jeff asked the woman to pick a number of people to come stand with her to equalize the power. She picked all the women. So, the Lands Chief was now facing five women. This made him feel uncomfortable because of feeling overpowered. Jeff mentioned that a person can tell how powerful they are perceived to be by the number and type of people who are brought to confront them about an issue. Because he now felt outnumbered, Jeff asked him to equalize the power. So, he picked an elderly man who represented the Council of Elders. The power struggle had now shifted to his favor.

The woman saw this and with fear of being overpowered, asked for the traditional story teller (griot) to come and represent her interests. The power struggle continued to escalate with each party one-upping the other. Jeff thanked them for demonstrating this experience for the group.

Step 6: Exploring Power Equalizing behaviors

Jeff then introduced the group to power equalizing behaviors. He described the concept of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which seems to apply to human dynamics as well. For every action, there will be an opposite and equal reaction. Jeff asked the group to explore the behaviors used by others and us to equalize power. He then had the group categorize these behaviors as Aggressive Behaviors, Passive-Aggressive Behaviors, Passive Behaviors and Adult-to-Adult Behaviors. He told them that moving to Adult-to-Adult Behaviors when confronting power-related conflicts was often most successful.

What are the behaviors others use with us to equalize power?

What are the behaviors we use with others to equalize power?

Aggressive Behaviors

Passive Aggressive Behaviors

Passive Behaviors

Adult-to-Adult Behaviors

Next, Jeff demonstrated another visual showing power equalizing behavior and suggesting how powerful people can equalize power. He picked two people from the group who would act as long time friends. One of the friends went off to get an education and later returned to the village, now with education. The relationship had changed in the mind of the one who stayed behind. He saw the educated friend as being above him now, and Jeff had the educated friend step up on a bench. The educated friend still saw his friend as the same, not realizing the changed perspective. His friend tried to pull him off the bench to equalize the relationship again. Jeff suggested to the educated friend to bring the friend who stayed behind up on the bench, by asking his opinions and ideas on all kinds of things. This behavior led to a diminished power struggle in the relationship.

Step 7: The best possible outcomes of empowerment

A balance of power is equity. Abuse of power is inequity. Now, we explored the value of empowering others and describing how an empowered situation would look when we arrived.

What will be the best possible outcomes of empowering each other?

What will be the evidence that we have empowered each other?

The next activity was a diagram placed on the easel showing the Emotion Spectrum resulting from power conflicts. The emotion spectrum is a concept to explain the behavior with groups in conflict. It is not scientific, is mostly based on subjective or anecdotal information. It is diagrammatic, a “road map” which provides a general overview of a perception, a concept.

Facts do not attach us to issues, emotions do. If one is emotionally involved in an issue, one will respond with more energy than for an issue which is of little interest.

Step 8: The Emotion Spectrum

The emotion spectrum uses descriptor words that are defined in the following page. Each word describes an increasing level of emotional attachment to an issue.

It is assumed that the public emotional attachment for or against an issue will be expressed in some sort of normal curve, although there may be a skew to one side of the argument or the other.

In any issues, there are unconcerned people (the “silent majority”) who allow others to represent them, and assume this is being done. It is not wise to assume that unconcerned people are unconcerned about all issues. These unconcerned people, may, at some point, be assertive on some other issue.

They rely on the observers to sound any alarm, if one is needed. The observers, in turn, look to the supporters to let them know there is an increased need for concern.

The assertive representatives are the ones on the front line, encountering the opposition. They feel the implied responsibility from others to see the issue is fairly represented. If the other side is receptive to their advocacy, then the issue is solved without too much conflict energy.

If, however, the other party is not receptive, and becomes aggressive (an emotional, or power move) then the assertive members will respond, in kind, with an equally, or slightly more, aggressive stance, balancing the power.

This is the point at which a decision can be made to move back towards resolution, acknowledging each parties advocacy, and seeking a responsive solution. Or, a decision can be made to move out more aggressively, based on worst outcomes, becoming defensive, becoming “adversary”.

If the latter happens, then the groups will tend to respond in increasing emotional intensity towards arrogance, and then violence. Each party increases the “fight” energy, or pressure, in the hope of eliciting the “flight” mode from the other party. This is now like a game of “chicken”. The “survival of the fittest” is the operational belief. Facts and figures no longer matter. Stereotypes of the “enemy” become operational.

The move to violence is done in stages, beginning with words that are demeaning, threatening and violent. The response to this may be equally violent, or may move to damaging the property of the other party (breaking windows, damaging machinery, blowing up buildings). This is responded to in the physical arena, pushing, shoving, punching, injuring, killing.

Two other elements now become imposed. There are people in the violent end of the curve who will move to become the leaders, or the “coyotes”, for the group, urging each side towards more violent actions. They are the inciters, delighted with this opportunity to be on center stage, to be acknowledged. They teach the here-to-fore assertive people the ropes, or act as their surrogate.

The other element is the general public (the unconcerned) who now are aware of the violent consequences, and who tend to choose sides, with the curve skewing toward the “underdog” or the ‘little people” as opposed to the “government bureaucracy”, or those “in power”.

At any point in time, the group can be moved back to the assertive, or advocacy position. It requires a willingness to risk the encounter, and a process that balances the power, bringing equity, lowering the voices, venting the emotion so that the words can be heard, and increasing the respectful listening so that a new information base is created.

Step 9: Empowering others, empowering ourselves

The last step is to ask the question of empowerment, for others and for ourselves. What adult-to-adult relationships will foster a sense of equity? Jeff also suggested that power is our birth rite.

How can we empower ourselves?

How can we empower others?

The final visual was one using “Power Pacs.” Each of us is born with Power Pacs. Jeff used concrete bricks to illustrate our personal power. He mentioned as a child, our parents often take our power away so we don’t hurt ourselves from what we don’t know. As we grow older, it’s important for our parents to return our power. Sometimes parents and other adults aren’t willing to do this. It becomes a heavy burden for the adults to handle.

The day finished with the group developing Consensus Statements from the Collective Statements developed earlier in the week. The four statements were written in Bambara. The purpose was for the Committee to come to a consensus about the long-range goal for the SANREM project. The following describes the process of converting a collective statement into a consensus statement.

After lunch, we returned to finalize the best outcomes collective statement prepared by SANREM scientific and technical partners based on the outcomes the committee had identified in their earlier training workshop. Small groups worked on the four paragraphs determining that this statement was agreed to be all members. The key question being: Is there anything you don’t agree with in this statement? Once the statement had been read and revised following all suggestions (one at a time) and there were no committee members disagreeing with the statement. It was again read out to the group as a whole. There were few changes made in preparing the final consensus statement. This group knows where it is going, and they are going there together. Jeff then reviewed the conflict management module which committee members would conduct on the first day of the third workshop in Bangassi on Monday. After the workshop closed, committee members remained to plan Monday’s training program.

Best Outcomes for a Strategy of the NRMAC

NRMAC Summary Statement

The development of the commune of Madiama is based on access to health and education. The strategy is based on the development responsibilities of the local population. The foundation of this strategy rests on a rational management of existing resources. The appropriation of new techniques, the adoption of various technologies and their adaptation to local conditions require greater control of the processes of production of consumer and material goods.

NRMAC Full Consensus Statement

The development of the commune of Madiama is based on access to health and education. This involves a confidence in oneself, social cohesion and accords between the communities. To reach this situation, the NRMAC must completely control the mode of its operation. The operational control enables the committee to create many opportunities for conflict resolution and reduce the incidence of violent conflict. It is at this price that prosperity, happiness and health will reign in the villages.

The strategy is based on the development responsibilities of the local population. The communities must define their own goals to reach them with their own experience. In order to achieve this, the NRMAC must prioritize its needs and specify clear and precise objectives. The Process must begin step with step, initially by a good participation of the local community, development of a communication program, and monitoring of successful Community activities. To arrive at this level, it must make decisions without calling upon assistance. This can then become a model for the nation.

The foundation of this strategy rests on a rational management of existing resources. The Community must develop methods and means allowing them to generate financial resources and to manage them. This will lead to stable soils and a rich ground cover, as well as an increasing water table. The landscape will then become rich in fauna, in flora, with water reservoirs and easy access to drinking water.

The appropriation of new techniques, the adoption of various technologies and their adaptation to local conditions require greater control of the processes of production of consumer and material goods. There is also a need for institutionalizing the marketing chain for income generating activities (AGR). This will build the commune’s capacity to ensure its food self-sufficiency and to play a part in the national market.

At the end of the workshop, Jeff facilitated an Adaptive Learning exercise. He gave the group an assignment for the workshop beginning on Monday in one of the villages where Bourgou regeneration was an issue. The assignment was for the group to teach the first day of the workshop using the things he had taught two years earlier. We wanted them to cover the following points and actually facilitate a conflict resolution workshop. We also wanted them to begin the process of resolving the Bourgou regeneration issue. When confronting and successfully resolving a serious conflict, it is important for all parties to understand the dynamics of conflict and conflict resolution. It is also important for the group to develop effective communication skills, particularly listening skills. This is what he had the group do as an assignment. It was also a chance to see what they had retained. Here are the topics they were asked to cover.


Greeting Circle

Small Group Formation

Adaptive Learning

Role of a Successful Facilitator/Recorder

Worst/Best Outcomes of Workshop

Define Conflict, Examples, How do you feel about confronting?

Visual – Conflict

Worst of / of not confronting conflict

Best of confronting


Visual – Yarn Relationships

(Added Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing model)

Adaptive Learning

Jeff, Ahmed and I reviewed the day’s progress and were very pleased with the outcome.

Sunday, 7 October 2001

Each spent the day in recouperation.

Monday, 8 October 2001

9:00 Village of Bangassi

Abdoulaye Cissé and Moussa Sao facilitated the training workshop with the bourgoutière management committees of Bangassi and Teguegné. The workshop addressed basic conflict management understandings and techniques. A total of 40 persons were present, 5 women committee members, 8 technical assistants (local and international), 5 members of the Teguegné bourgou management committee, 5 members of the Bangassi bourgou management committee, and other Bangassi village notables (including the village head).

The activities began with a greeting circle, followed by an adaptive learning exercise. Everyone spoke and was heard. A recorder from each village was selected. Moussa Sao said that they would be discussing power and misunderstanding during the sessions. Jeff Goebel spoke briefly, then they set up the string exercise (multiple ties) with Abdoulaye Cissé animating. They then went on to make a demonstration of power with a big and little man and their attempts to move each other. Four discussion groups were set up and worst and best outcomes were addressed. Reporting from the groups was good, but there is still a lot of learning necessary in speaking skills. The sessions were completed with a personal conflict resolution methodology presented by Jeff.

Workshop Three: Confronting and Successfully Resolving the Bourgou Regeneration Issue

Purpose: To confront and successfully resolve the Bourgou regeneration issues.

To reinforce conflict resolution training skills at the Committee level.

To allow participants the opportunity to understand the dynamics of conflict resolution and develop effective strategies to resolve conflict.

To develop valuable insights from the trip to Tchad.

This last workshop was primarily focused on confronting and successfully resolving the Bourgou Regeneration issue. Of course, not everyone involved was present, such as the transhumants, so any resolution had to consider a way to involve the absent parties and create solutions, which were acceptable to all parties, yielding a consensus.

The first day was designed to get participants comfortable with resolving conflict and developing effective skills. With minimal intervention on our part, the Committee lead the teaching of the entire day. We looked forward to this as the material to be covered Jeff had taught during his first workshop two years earlier. We were amazed at the retention of the material. It was as if they had been taught the day before! They also pulled out materials Jeff had left with the women two years earlier, like the colorful yarn to demonstrate the complexity of conflict. The general outline for the day follows. You can see more detail notes at The group also added some extra lessons not on the original list for this workshop but that they had learned two years ago. Jeff was extremely impressed and honored. In addition, there was some adaptation to what they had been taught, which illustrated that this process was now their process. For example, they had designated people to honor others in the group. Very impressive!

1. The Grounding:

“Introduce yourself and your relationship to change?”

“What are your expectations of this institute?”

“Tell us how you feel about being here”

2. The Greeting Circle:

3. An Adaptive Learning Process

What is the situation or the experience?

How do you feel about it?

What did you learn from it that will make you successful?

4. The Roles of the Facilitator and Recorder

What is the role of a successful facilitator?

What is the role of a successful recorder?

5. Worst/Best/Possibility

What are the worst possible outcomes of the institute?

What are the best possible outcomes of the institute?

6. A Process for Coping with Conflict

What is the situation? (Define conflict; What is the evidence of conflict in your environment?) How do I feel about it?

What are my worst outcomes of confronting/not confronting unresolved conflict?

What are my best outcomes of confronting and resolving conflict?

What beliefs/ behaviors/ strategies/ actions will foster the best outcomes?

The group also demonstrated the conflict visual, the yarn visual and the forming-storming-norming and performing model, all translated to French and Bambara. After they finished, Jeff honored the two primary facilitators.

This is where we ended the first day in Bangassi with Adaptive Learning. Toka was also back for the day and helped translate what was being discussed with the group so we were able to have a better understanding and take numerous pictures of the activities, illustrating the consensus building behaviors being demonstrated.

Tuesday, 9 October 2001

9:00 Bangassi

The training session continued with Malicki Camara (NRMAC hunter’s representative from Bangassi) facilitating. It appears that the committee has developed their own sense of training sessions and was up and rolling quickly. Jeff slowed them down a bit to increase adaptive learning and rotate leadership roles.

What Conflict?

We were ready to dive into one of the most serious conflicts in the region, the conflict of regenerating the bourgou. Interestingly, that morning as Jeff was introducing the conflict; some voices in the group said “What conflict?” They were sarcastically pointing out that the Committee was already devising successful strategies to resolve this issue. Their behavior reinforced our belief that they were indeed capable of resolving numerous issues because of the skills they now possessed. We were impressed!

After the initial round of groundings, greetings, and adaptive learning (lessons from the day before), a panel presented the issues surrounding bourgou regeneration. Ba Coulibaly (Bangassi village head) began, Amadou Cissé (Nérékoro representative) followed representing the transhumant herders, then Moussa Kabayou (Teguegné), Mamadou Koita (Madiama) represented local herders, Issa Kane (IER-Madiama) represented NGOs and government agents, and Nadif represented the bourgou resources themselves. While the format was for a panel discussion, the members became very animated going as far as staging full confrontations. The Bangassi village chief acted out his panel presentation rather than just describe it. The whole group got excited as he attacked the transhumant representative. Wow! Then the rest of the members of the panel joined in and continued playing out the successful resolution of the process. Again, we were impressed!

This presentation of the various stakeholders perspectives was followed by a series of small working group discussions focused on the worst and best possible outcomes of confronting or not confronting the conflict.

After a late lunch Jeff presented a model for interviewing a person who was potentially involved in a conflict. This one-on-one conflict resolution process had only been described two years earlier. A herder from Nerekoro and a farmer were chosen as the two parties in conflict. Each selected a trusted, objective listener from the group. Besides demonstrating the one-on-one conflict process. This activity also modeled the resolution of the conflict between herder and farmer in the region. Jeff had Abdoulaye Touré co-facilitate to build his skills in this process and to illustrate his position as being a conflict resolving resource person. The step by step process follows.

Resolving One on One Conflicts

Step 1: The Argument

Step 2: Gaining Attention

Step 3: The Offer

Step 4: Setting the Stage

Step 5: The Situation

What is your view of the situation and how do you feel about it?

What did you hear the speaker say?

Step 6: The Worst Possible outcomes:

What are the worst possible outcomes of this situation for you? What do you believe are the worst possible outcomes for the other person?

What did you hear the speaker say?

Step 7: The Best Possible Outcomes:

What do you want as best possible outcomes for yourself in this situation? What do you want as best possible outcomes for the other person?

What did you hear the speaker say?

Step 8: Collaboration

What are you willing to do to foster those best possible outcomes for both of you? What do you need from the other person to make your best outcomes happen?

What did you hear the speaker say?

Step 9: The Closure

How do you feel about this meeting?

What did you learn that will make you successful?

What advise do you have for the two people to make them successful?

Step 10: The Honoring

Wednesday, 10 October 2001

10:00 Bourgoutière of Bangassi

The workshop re-grouped at the edge of the bourgoutière de Bangassi and discussed the possibilities for its regeneration. We began with a grounding. Jeff pointed out that conflict is always experienced as a triad, with a lesser power entity taking the brunt of disrespect between warring parties, such as parents or farmers versus herders. In these cases, children or the land take the brunt of the disrespect displayed between the parties. We then divided into small groups to discuss the best possible outcomes for the regeneration of the bourgoutière. After reporting back to the plenary group, we returned to Bangassi village to complete the workshop. Here are the steps we did on the field trip.


Greeting Circle

Small Group Formation

How do you feel about the bourgou regeneration?

How can foster healthy bourgou and happy transhumant and local herders, farmers, and commercial harvesters?

11:30 Bangassi

The four committee members who made the trip to visit the PPPOA in Chad (Issa Sao, Moussa Sao, Malicki Camara, and Amadou Cissé) reported on the lessons which they learned during that study tour that might help inform community actions to manage the regeneration of the bourgoutière and the conflicts which would be stimulated by more intensified use by all stakeholders.

The Panel of four concluded with:

How do you feel about what you saw in Tchad?

What did you learn that will help the SANREM project be successful?

Nadif then reinforced this presentation with inside perspectives as project manager for the multiple-village managed grazing areas describing what he had learned and his feelings about the work in Tchad. Several workshop participants ask a lot of questions about how the system worked in Chad which the study tour participants answered in considerable detail. This was a powerful experience for all participants. It also paid an honor to Nadif. Here are the questions Nadif answered.

How do you feel about Holistic Management in Tchad?

What did you learn that made the Tchad holistic management project successful?

We honored the panel and Nadif when they were finished. Next Jeff introduced an interview process for use in exploring conflicts prior to confronting and successfully resolving the conflict. The workshop finished with an adaptive learning exercise and then the primary workshop facilitators, including the village head were honored by the assembly. The interview process is explained in the following steps.

An Interview Process

Step 1) Interviewer Introduction

Step 2) Interviewee Introduction

Step 3) The situation: What is the situation as you see it, and how do you feel about it?

Step 4) What are the worst possible outcomes of the situation if it is not resolved (confronted)?

Step 5) Feedback and Insight:

Step 6) What are the best outcomes that you want to result from this activity? “If you did know, what would be the answer?

Step 7) What could be done to meet the needs of all the parties?

Step 8) What is your advice on who should attend? (optional)

Step 9) What conditions would facilitate your, or others, participation in this session? (optional)

Step 10) Do you have any questions of me, or about the workshop?

Step 11) Closure

We had covered significant material in the six days together. We wound up the workshop program with Keith honoring the Village chief for his participation. It was very impressive to witness the depth of respect paid to the Village chief for attending all three days and playing a significant role in the workshop. He seemed quite moved. Relations seem to be very good between the Village chief, the Committee and the newly elected mayor. The group also brought Nadif and Jeff into the center of the circle to be honored. This is always humbling.

We finished the meeting with a Greeting Circle. The group also requested that Nadif offer an Islamic prayer to end the session. Very impressive and important! The workshop was blessed!

Jeff, Ahmed and I left for Mopti with the three IER technicians arriving about 18:00

Thursday, 11 October 2001

7:00 Hotel Sévaré

Jeff and Ahmed returned to Bamako by IER vehicle before departing Mali on Friday night and Saturday morning, respectively. While in Bamako on Friday they debriefed Lassine Diarra at CRRA/Sotuba and Mathias Bassene in the Regional Office at USAID.

Thursday, 18 October 2001

20:00 Keith departed for the Airport and left on Air France Flight 761.

Annex A: The Development of Collective Statements

Collective statements are based on the belief that each of us sees the world from a different viewpoint. Our individual views are like pieces of a puzzle — when we fit them all together we get the full picture.

In most meetings our views tend to be seen as competitive. When someone speaks, another person responds with a counter-statement, and the meeting progresses with each trying to convince the other of his or her rightness. This behavior is based on a belief in the “one right answer” to all questions. Only one of us can be right, so our intelligence is used to establish that rightness firmly. It becomes a competition in which each person’s ego and intelligence are at stake.

This is either/or thinking — either you are right or I am! Often, two or three people will capture all the time in a meeting with this either/or conflict, while others listen, get bored, and drop out. It is a time-consuming, ineffective process. The meeting ends with some vaguely worded compromise that relieves the participants. They leave with little commitment to it.

Collective thinking assumes we can all learn something from each other. We have different views of a situation, and all views are right.

This is done with many of the workshop tasks. The collective statements are the result of adding individual statements together, keeping each person’s words to the best extent possible, creating a statement of the total group.


A collective statement process is based on the notion that we all have different views of a situation, and all views are right. Each of us perceives the world through our experiences, our values and beliefs and our desires.

In some tasks, statements made by each individual participant are recorded as accurately as possible. These statements are first segregated into common groups. The individual statements are then added together, keeping each person’s words to the best extent possible, creating a statement of the total group.

At times it is necessary to add words to the brief recorded statements to clarify the intent. Or, a word might be added to bridge two or more statements together. This is kept to a minimum in order to retain the original recorded thought.

While some grammatical improvements may be made, the original statement and the original words are kept as close as possible.


The entire process for developing consensus statements is composed of four steps.

1. The process begins with the recording of best possible outcomes on flip charts.

2. A collective statement is prepared using these lists.

3. The group develops consensus with words using the collective statement through a process of adding and deleting words, until all are satisfied with each consensus statement.

4. The final consensus statement is developed.

Annex C: The Emotion Spectrum


Violence: Physical force used to injure, damage, or destroy; extreme roughness of action. Unjust or callous use of power or force, as in violating another’s rights or sensibilities. (Acrimony, coercion, cruelty, mistreatment, rage, vehemence.)

Arrogance: Overbearing pride or self-importance. Haughty. Full of unwarranted pride. (Contemptuous, defiant, imperious, insolent, proud, sure, vain.)

Aggressive: Ready or willing to take direct issue or engage in direct action; militant. Aggressive implies a bold and energetic pursuit of ones ends, connoting, in derogatory usage, a ruthless desire to dominate; and, in a favorable sense, enterprise, initiative. (Attacking, energetic, enterprising, gruff, quarrelsome, and warlike.)

Assertive: Positive or confident in a persistent way. To state positively; declare, affirm. Implies a way of representing ourselves, our integrity, in a non-threatening, helpful way. Assertiveness needs receptiveness to be effective.

Receptive: A way of receiving asserted information in a respectful way, through listening, assuming the information may have valve to the listener.

Supportive: Giving approval to, or be in favor of. Advocating (implies support in speech or writing and sometimes connotes persuasion or argument). Helping (bearing, comforting, confirming, promising, reinforcing, helping, maintaining, financing).

Observers: To pay special attention to, perceptive or alert. To take notice of. To be curious.

Unconcerned: Neutral, not interested, not concerned.

Contented: Implies a filling of requirements tot he degree that one is not disturbed by a desire for something more or different.

Advocacy: The act of speaking or writing in support of something. (Justifier, supporter, advise, urge.)

Adversary: A person who fights or opposes another; an enemy, an opponent.

Step 8: The Emotion Spectrum



Things V


Violence: Words R


Arrogant A


Aggressive Y
Receptive Consensus
Assertive A




Supporters C





Observers E


Unconcerned/Content T


Observers A





Supporters O




Assertive Y
Receptive Consensus
Aggressive A


Arrogant V



Violence: Words S


Things R