Community forums and how to structure the sessions

I know many empowerment organisations use community forums as a way of empowering large number of people with different demographics. With such groups it is easier to lose focus and if one has not prepared the content well, the impact of the event will not be felt that much. This is because of the dynamics of the group as well as the amount of content to be covered.

With this in mind, one of our partners at the coast Haki Centre @Lore had developed a guide that could help the facilitator/ Paralegal on how to conduct the session. This was a best practice that we wanted to build on in order to help the rest of the partners around the country be able to have consistency in the way the handle the sessions. We also wanted to make the material as interactive as possible for the participants to get them engaged in the process. This informed the use of cartoons and other infographics.

We developed a 14 paged flip chart that looks like this below:

We have began with the roll out sessions where I took the paralegals through the content and brain stormed how to make the sessions as interactive as possible.

Nubian Rights Forum Session on how to use the materials

The Nubian Rights Forum team has begun using the materials in their sessions and they at times during the session call on community members to explain what they see on the charts and how it relates to their own personal experience of seeking documentation.

Nubian Rights Forum paralegals @zena @Zahra and @Naima_Rajab watching a partisipant lead a session.

This has generated discussions with the participants and also stakeholders who participate in the sessions as seen in the photos below:

An Nubian Rights Forum client explain her experience of vetting and applying for an Identity card.

A Nubian vetting elder responding to the challenges raised by the participants in the meeting.

It was a very challenging task to develop the material with a lot of back and forth with the designer to simplify the content but worth every effort. The hardest part was simplifying laws for the local people to easily understand. Do you have such experience of simplifying the law? What was your experience? How did you manage to do it? We made two versions one in Swahili printed as flip charts and the English versions printed as booklets for the paralegals to carry around to refresh their knowledge of the content before the meeting and also before going for out reach. Feel free to download the materials in the links below. Share with me your experience of community meetings. Do you have printed materials? Do you use audio visual materials? If yes how was the process of the content development? I would love to hear from you. @lauragoodwin @aishakhagai @fatimaadamu @kanchikohli




Thank you @mustafa_mahmoud and your team for developing the materials, at least now it’s easier to conduct an interactive sessions in the forum and from the flip charts people can easily form discussions


great piece Mustafa the charts are really helpful and when it comes to the session of laws the community was eager to learn them. Thank you Mustafa for the time and effort you put to enable us have the guide and flipcharts


awesome! @manjumenon often says: legal empowerment is about pedagogy. great to see this pedagogical creativity in action.


@mustafa_mahmoud thank you for sharing this detailed post. Loved reading it and getting a glimpse of how you all went about the process. Look forward to having a long face to face discussion sometime to understand the challenges and thrills. Meanwhile, will definitely download the citizenship guide to community meetings you’ve shared and understand how we can learn from it for upcoming community partner meetings.

The point you raise in the end is extremely important and has been a core to our training/learning processes. This year we are going to be assessing our existing training methods and learn new ones as legal empowerment is one of our priority goals. In the past team members have used a variety of methods which are vocal, visual and written. These include street plays, games, simulation sessions, posters, discussion forums and legal case work prompted by scenarios. All of this is determined by the size of the group, geographical context and the existing knowledge level of the group that is about the learn the law.

@mrhegde @marutigouda @vinod will be to hear from your experience. @santoshdora @manishagoswami and @bharatpatel have decades of experience of community meetings and it will be wonderful to hear from you too, especially your thoughts on the @mustafa_mahmoud’s post. @wawansabar what has been your experience with community meetings?

This pocket diary on the coastal regulation zone law was one of our first efforts at simplifying law for those who are comfortable with the written/printed medium. Late last year we published the legal handbook for community organisers in four languages which is now quiet popular. This two language explanation related to sand mining has also been useful which can be handed over to affected people or those interested in understanding the legal procedures.

My personal favourite is ofcourse using dialogues from popular movies while learning law with grassroots legal practitioners or community organisers. As goes one in Jerry Mcguire “Help me, Help you” :slight_smile: :blossom:



Thanks @kanchikohli I look forward to realising this:

I look forward to hearing more from your team. For now I will review the materials you shared. I will also keep this to myself. I like the phrase:


Yes - a good one! That dialogue ends with “you think we’re fighting, but I think we’re finally talking!”


Now I have to go and watch that movie. :sunglasses: