'From fufu till marshmallow challenge'

The Ghana Learning Tour, 12 - 14 July 2016

We can conclude that the first Ghana Learning Tour was in many aspects very successful. Participants came from the north and centre of Ghana (Tamale and Kumasi) and were all in different stages of their innovative water idea, which resulted in a very varied group of people.

With the help of our facilitators Lisa Freiburg and Amanda Obuobi from MDF and our logistical genius Barnabas Apom from GNBCC we put up a full programme in Accra. We were lucky we had chosen the Atomic Research Institute as our base to organise the training because it is a typical huge (semi-)governmental area with various buildings spread over the entire terrane. Therefore we had to walk 20 minutes every morning from the guesthouse to the conference room and vice versa in the afternoon. A nice way to clear your head and evaluate the day and in the meantime digest the porridge, fufu, banku, rice, fish, chicken and toast.

The participants had a range of expectations before starting the Learning Tour and we tried to adress most of the requests and dealt with lots of issues during the workshops regarding proposal writing, project management, how to pitch, team composition, collaboration and networking. Lisa (MDF) turned out to be very flexible and used the energy level of the group to get us back in the flow sometimes by making us stand up and do an ice-breaker.

Each time she managed to turn our actions into a learning experience. While waiting for our snacks (again) while having a break, Willemijn suddenly conjured up the Dutch stroopwafels to avoid a serious sugar dip. At the same time all the participants had to make an appointment with Willemijn to have a face-to-face meeting in these three days to get constructive feedback on their teaser, proposal or status of their project. Was this encounter something they were looking forward to?

Looking at the ambitious action agendas the group had set for themselves you can say they accepted the challenge (and not only the marshmallow one) and in the coming months we expect to receive quite a number of new versions of teasers, full proposals and progress reports. After proudly receiving their certificates (see: https://www.viawater.nl/community/ghana-learning-tour) we were given the opportunity to visit the National Nuclear Research Institute where the “techies” didn’t stop asking questions. We had to move on though and ended our Tour in the garden of GNBCC. Up there everyone could practice his/her elevator pitch and talk about their specific idea, e.g. the recycling of water, mobile billing systems, sewage systems and waste to energy while networking at the VIA Water cocktail. A nice way of closing this Learning Tour and we hope the results will be visible the coming months.