Web alliance for Regreening in Africa

W4RA team in Burkina Faso and Mali for the DGIS Programme for Food and Water

At the invitation of Réseau MARP (Burkina Faso), Sahel Eco (Mali), and CARE Niger, the Web Alliance for Re-greening in Africa (W4RA) team from VU University Amsterdam, did a new round of creative Agile workshops in Burkina Faso and Mali. The objective of these workshops is to co-create innovative communication systems to improve agro-forestry value chains to support the work of local farmers and their communities.

These activities are part of the DGIS-ICRAF project “Program for Food and Water in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa”, The workshops took place from 19 July to August 1 2014.


Figure 1: A picture of one of the creative W4RA sessions.  This one is at the office of Réseau MARP in Ouagadougou

The Web Alliance for Regreening in Africa is an initiative of VU University Amsterdam[1], Sahel Eco, Réseau MARP, SBC4D, 2CoolMonkeys, and several other partners[2] in support of knowledge sharing for rural development in Africa.

The Agile “Workshop-based” approach is central to the creative work of W4RA. It uses a collaborative, iterative and adaptive methodology to co-create ICT systems, which are tailored to a specific  rural context by a mixed team of local development specialists, radio journalists, rural producers and a team of ICT specialists.

In Ouahigouya, (Burkina Faso) a two-day session was organized with five local radio stations. The radio journalists helped to compose, translate and record spoken text in local Moré language. These voice fragments are used for the development of voice-based market information

ystems, which allow farmers to broadcast their product offerings on the local radio. The name of this new information system will be “Raas Kibaya”, which means “market information” in Moré. The name and the functionality of the system was a result of the co-creation sessions.After the workshops the W4RA team met two farmers-innovators in their fields: Ousséni Zoromé and Ousséni Kindo. Both farmers are experienced agro-foresters who help to develop the system specifications.BF2Figure 2: Visit to the fields of farmer innovator Ousséni Kindo. From left to right: Ousséni Kindo, Julien Ouedraogo (Réseau MARP), Wendelien Tuyp, Anna Bon, Hans Akkermans (VUA), Francis Dittoh (University of Development Studies, Ghana)

In Mali, another W4RA workshop was held in Ségou jointly with Sahel Eco and other Malian partners from the DGIS project. All participants discussed information needs, and decided jointly that a voice-based market information system was their highest priority at this moment. Their choice was influenced by the experiences of Sahel Eco and W4RA with the Radio Marché market information system, designed and built for farmers in the Tominian area. This system has been  very successful in increasing the sales of honey and shea butter for a group of farmers in 19 villages around Tominian. Amadou Tangara, value-chain expert from Sahel Eco presented a plan for development of value chains in rural areas. He explained the different stages and approach, and pointed to the importance of adaptive ICT systems such as Radio Marché in the process of developing value chains.


Figure 3: Team from Sahel Eco and W4RA in Segou (July 2014)


Figure 4: Presentation by Amadou Tangara about the development of agro-forestry value chains and the role of ICTs in this innovation process (Ségou workshop 29 July 2014)

The experiences obtained with the RadioMarché deployment in Mali, in the period 2011-2014 led to co-creation of a new version of this voice-based market information system. This is done in close collaboration with the local stakeholders. The new system will be adapted to the local conditions (e.g. local languages, market situation, products offerings) for the different regions in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.


[1] The Network Institute of VU Amsterdam

[2] North-West University south Africa, University of Development Studies Ghana, Meraka Institute, Yeleman, Orange Labs and many others.