by John Hall


Draft translation from French

October 2002






(Woloff proverb: In other words, it would be absurd to presume to teach livestock herding to a herder. As for the eyeglasses, they allow the crocodile (or the herder) to " see " his environment more clearly and to make better decisions using the holistic model and the results of monitoring. This is why the image was chosen .)


The Bespectacled Crocodile

by John Hall

Instructional modules for training pastoral communities in Holistic Management

Some rights reserved. You may copy and distribute this manual or parts of it if you (1) credit the original authors, (2) include this notice, including the copyright license information below, and (3) on partial copies, include the following link where people may download the complete manual. English and French versions are available at


You may create and distribute derivative works, adaptations, and translations under the same conditions. If possible, please make an electronic copy available for public distribution (you can do this through ManagingWholes.com), and send the URL to the author:


If you wish to use this manual for commercial purposes, please contact the author.

Creative Commons license:





When it was first introduced in 1994, the West Africa Pilot Pastoral Program WAPPP; (in french Programme pastoral pilote Ouest Africain, PPPOA) was intended, by virtue of its experimental nature, to test the validity of the holistic model of resource management in the Sahel.  In this context, the program’s training component consisted originally, on the one hand, of extension activities directed at herders during field missions of both national staff and expatriate consultants and, on the other hand, periodic training sessions for the program’s outreach staff.  This approach assumed that, in this way, skills would be progressively transmitted to the rural communities concerned.  Experience showed, however, that with few exceptions, communities were still far from having a sufficiently firm grasp of the holistic model to be able to manage their resources sustainably by the end of the pilot program. 


Preparation of the manual


Starting in 1997, contact was made with specialists in the kind of participatory adult education developed over the past twenty years in various sectors and disseminated in particular by the World Bank’s Economic Development Institute (EDI).  The 5th Sub-Regional WAPPP Workshop held in July 1998 in Saint-Louis (Senegal) provided an opportunity to lend more depth to this approach and persuaded network members of its validity in terms of strengthening the WAPPP in the sub-region.


This approach to strengthening the WAPPP, which resulted in the preparation of this manual and its accompanying graphic materials, was developed by a team of about a half-dozen people (listed below) in the course of two missions, each lasting three weeks: one to Saint Louis (Senegal) in August 2000, and the other to N’djamena (Chad) in November 2000.


Preliminary nature of the manual


Most of the 38 training modules contained in this manual were tested with volunteer agro-pastoral communities while they were being formulated. Although these communities were not involved in any program and only participated in scattered sessions rather than in the full outreach cycle, the results were striking, and demonstrated, if such demonstration were needed, that the approach is appropriate for this type of target group and for the dissemination of this type of skills.


These encouraging results should not obscure the preliminary nature of this manual, however.  A training tool such as this one, and the graphic material upon which it is based, cannot be adapted to all target groups and all situations.  Adjustments will be necessary, and arrangements should be made for the users of this tool to remain in contact so that they may, in future, come to a joint agreement on the necessary changes.


Indicators of success


Each training module has been subjected to a detailed pedagogic analysis yielding precise and verifiable (if not measurable) objectives that are indicators of the results of the individual modules.


That said, the efficacy of this training tool as a skills development program can only be judged by the relevant community itself after having participated in the complete cycle. 


For the outside observer, the indicator of success will be the community’s establishment, or failure to establish, an initial resource management plan that it then implements, monitors and, on its own initiative, modifies as required.




Adult training specialist


Caution! This manual is not a treatise on adult training! It is a tool for adult training specialists who have some basic background in communications and pedagogy, as well as for those possessing in-depth and long-term training experience, and finally, those familiar with the participatory or “experiential” approach to training.  This means that the trainer agrees to function as a facilitator of the learning process, instead of seeking to convey his own “knowledge” to the target group.


We believe that the efficacy of the training tool proposed here will be seriously compromised if it is used by "unqualified" people.  By “unqualified”, we mean people lacking instruction in, or experience with, adult training. This also refers to those who, although they may possess these credentials and experience, are in fact conventional educators who tend to deliver lectures instead of facilitating the learning process.


Instructional set-up using a co-facilitator


The facilitator of the training sessions based on this manual must necessarily be fluent in the language of the participating community.  Facilitation of the experiential process demands, on the part of the facilitator, an ability to perceive the slightest hesitations, frustrations or desires for self-expression on the part of participants, and this is something virtually impossible to accomplish through interpreters.


In cases where there is no adult training specialist available who is fluent in the language of the target group, a set-up may be envisaged (and has been tested with some success) using a co-facilitator who does not have experience in training, but who is both known to the group concerned and fluent in its language.

Moreover, it is entirely possible that, as this training program develops, a growing number of co-facilitators will emerge from the corps of outreach personnel, NGOs, and even schooled auxiliaries from communities themselves.  However, the process will always need to be supervised attentively by the training specialist, who will provide the needed support.


Resource person


Even if this training does not purport to “show the crocodile where the marsh is”, the holistic model is a complex and exhaustive construct that is not expected to be completely mastered by either the training specialist or his/her assistant.

It is therefore imperative that the training team include a pastoralist skilled in holistic management, who will intervene as needed to provide the necessary clarifications and more detail on certain technical aspects of the modules.  This person does not necessarily need to be fluent in the language of the target group.


Community "Secretary"


The facilitator will gauge the degree of literacy of the group undergoing the training cycle: this group may be totally illiterate, but it may also be partially literate, in that some of its members know the rudiments of Arabic script or can transcribe the local language phonetically.  The use of wristwatches has also familiarized most herders with reading and writing ‘Arabic” numerals.  This can prove to be particularly helpful during the implementation of the modules dealing with participatory monitoring.


In all case, it is advisable to have available at every session at least one community member who can read and write both English and the local language, to serve as “secretary”.  In the Sahelian countries, this role is often assumed by the headmaster of the village Koranic school.




Implementation scenarios


Testing of most of the modules contained in this manual has shown that each one requires, on average, about an hour to complete.  The entire cycle, therefore, can take about 40 hours,


Annex # 6 of this manual suggests three possible implementation scenarios: one in which the 40 hours of training occur in a single week (i.e., the intensive option), one in which the hours are spread out over three weeks (the intermediate option), or one lasting seven weeks (the extended option).


The choice of implementation scenario is important, since it will to a great extent determine the effectiveness of a training cycle that can be costly in terms of time and resources. This decision should be made jointly by the agency in charge (on the basis of logistical factors), the facilitator (who will weigh the pedagogical aspects) and, most importantly, by the community concerned (since it determines the availability of the target group).


Sequence of the modules


The 38 modules contained in this manual are arranged in a sequence of nine “instructional units”.  This structural arrangement received much attention and was adjusted numerous times (see instructional format in Annex 2).  The holistic model consists of a sequence of steps that needs to be respected, and from the pedagogical standpoint, certain modules cannot be covered until certain notions have already been covered and assimilated.


As a result, it is recommended that the proposed sequence be carefully followed, with a single exception: module # 4 "Conflict prevention ", which is in the first instructional unit (i.e., community outreach), should preferably be dealt with at the very end of the training cycle, as a conclusion to it.


Using the “icons”


The reader will notice the careful attention paid to the graphic representation of the training itself, the instructional units and training modules. While the symbolism and graphic quality of these icons can always be improved in the future, it is important to note that the pictorial representation of each stage of the learning process is essential.


Indeed, given the large number of modules to be presented over a variable time period, there is a risk that the cycle will be fragmented, in participants’ minds, into a multitude of mini-sessions, and that the model’s iterative impact will be diminished.  This is why “icons” will be used throughout: (a) at the beginning and at the end of each intructional unit; (b) at the end of each training session, when the “icons” of the new modules will be displayed, alongside those previously covered, on a bulletin board or wall for the duration of the cycle; and (c) in a three-page “illustrated holistic model”  to be distributed to all participants (Annex # 1).


Reference to modules and images


The numbering of the modules will be extremely useful for the outreach team, this is why a module’s number is indicated each time it is mentioned in the manual.  However, one needs to avoid using that number in communicating with participants; modules should be referred to solely by name and by means of their corresponding icons.


During testing, it became apparent that, given their large number, images needed to be numbered individually. Thus, the first two digits (or the first one in the case of the first nine modules) refer to the module to which the image belongs.  The following  two digits constitute the ordinal number of the image within the module.




Utilization of the flip-chart


Experience during the testing has proved that a standard flip-chart needs to be used for the entire duration of the training cycle.


The flip chart may be used on its stand when a map is being drawn, or without a stand (but close to the mat on which the group is seated) when images are being displayed during a discussion, or even placed flat on the mat for certain exercises (e.g., determining the relative value of parcels). 


Graphic supports


The images accompanying each module in this manual are essential to the training’s effectiveness.


See the annex for an index of images and according to the “folders” mentioned in the text. For access to the images, please see http://managingwholes.com/crocodile/ or contact the author for copies.


It cannot be stressed enough that these supports need to be carefully stored in their corresponding folders.


Before beginning any training session, the facilitator shall make sure that he has all the necessary graphic supports on hand.  In the midst of an exercise, rummaging around in folders in search of an image disrupts the flow and concentration of the participants, so be prepared.


Certain documents, and particularly the stickers used to create the village lands map, management plan and calendar, should be left with the community once the training cycle has ended.  Prior arrangements should be made to have adequate supplies of these.



Vocabulary in local languages


Annex # 5 contains around fifty words commonly used in holistic management.which are key to the implementation  of the training sessions. It is essential that the facilitator confer with the community before starting the training cycle, in order to establish the best possible translation of each term.  The list of terms can be corrected and completed at the end of the cycle.




The following people were involved in creating the manual and its accompanying illustrations.


        National WAPPP team for Senegal:

                Malik Faye, national coordinator

                Boubacar N'Diaye, trainer

Algor Thiam, facilitator for Asré Bani site

Assane Dione, graphic artist


        National WAPPP team for Chad:

                Ahmed Nadif, national coordinator

                Lucien M'Beurnodji, trainer

                M'Baitoudji Yalngar, facilitator for Fadjé Djékiné site

                Darnace Ramdan, graphic artist


        Expatriate consultants

                Barbara Howald, adult training specialist

                Farhat Ben Salem, resource management specialist

                John M. Hall, coordinator, editor


The concept of holistic management


The technical substance of this manual is based upon the work of Allan Savory, founder of the Allan Savory Center for Holistic Management www.holisticmanagement.org. Although this manual has been developped with the agreement of the Center, the Center is not responsible for its content. For more information, refer to:

Allan Savory, Holistic management, A new framework for decision making; Island Press, 1999, 616 pages.


        The concept of participatory training


                References in the text to participatory exercises send the reader to the following publication:

Lyra Srinavasan, Tools for community participation: a manual for training trainers in participatory techniques. PROWESS/UNDP-World Bank Water and sanitation program. 1990, 179 pages.