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 Home > Event-related > World Social Forum > Nairobi 2007

[ en ]

Technical Committee Proposal for Interpretation in the WSF Nairobi 2007

Nairobi 4 August 2006
(Date: 11 August 2006)

This plan is compiled by Kathy, Elisabeth, Cristine and Thanos. It includes the contributions by Christophe, PK Das, and Eward, Oduor and Oloo of the KSF secretariat. It is complemented by the Babels Mombasa report, which outlines the mobilization in the Coast area.

1. Babels plan of Action


There are 6 months remaining until the WSF. Vigorous mobilization must be undertaken in order to built a Babels network in Kenya and the region of East Africa, especially in the months of August to October. There will be a monitoring of the number of interpreters contacted, on a fortnightly basis. Elisabeth will be mobilizing in the Coast, Kathy and Cristine in Nairobi, and contacts will be sought for Western Kenya. Targets for mobilization in Nairobi that were identified include the Media Houses (FM stations in local languages, that may have lists of people fluent in these), language institutes, the Utali hotel management school, ethnic groups – Ethiopians, Somalis, etc – that are in Nairobi, etc. More contacts in Nairobi and rural Kenya need to be found through the other participants in the WSF preparation.


There is also need for mobilization in the wider region of East Africa. Contacts will be identified in Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia, etc via familiar interpreters and via the Social Forums in these countries. There will need to be travels in those countries, around September, to try to build local coordinations for Babels.


There is need for mobilization material (leaflets etc), in which information about the WSF will be included, as well as the commitments to the interpreters, in terms of their travel tickets, accommodation, per diem etc.


The need for training sessions for the volunteers interpreters was acknowledged, and end of August was set as the beginning date for that process. The purpose of the training sessions is to familiarize the non-professionals with the interpretation situation, help them realize their potential, and assist in the selection process. An office, available for one afternoon per week, at the center of the city, would be required for the trainings.

Babels Office

Emphasis was given to the need for a Babels office, consisting of 3 people working full time from August until January, and communication and office facilities. One of them might be a Babels member from abroad, that would transfer the experience of organizing Babels in previous Social Forums. Regarding the office facilities, Cristine will try to arrange partial use of her organization’s office in the center, to facilitate the training as well. In any case, there will be provision of office, possibly in a more accessible location, by the Organizing Committee.


For the staff, office, and for the mobilization travels, a budget must be promptly allocated. The input from the resources committee was that there is yet no amount available to be allocated for Babels. Therefore, it was agreed that for the immediate mobilization, the social mobilization budget would be utilized, to cover for the basic travel and communication expenses.

Number of rooms

Regarding the number of rooms with interpretation, it was agreed that they will be around 1/3 of the total number of rooms, that is around 30. There will be different numbers of booths in each room. The possibility of having interpretation equipment in the other rooms, “on demand”, was also explored, and since it is technically feasible, is was agreed that the corresponding policy and practicalities need to be specified. To this end, there is also a need to have a pool of interpreters available. This pool could be built by organizations contributing people and support groups.

Number of Languages and of Interpreters

Regarding the number of languages, the need to have enough passive languages at the opening ceremony was identified. The number of interpreters needed needs to be identified, having in mind that for a 3-slot-per-day event, a minimum of 3 interpreters per booth are required (so, for example, for a total of 100 booths, a total of around 300-320 interpreters would be needed).

Relationship with the Organizing Committee

One important issue identified is the relationship of Babels with the Organizing Committee. It is made clear that Babels is not a service provider, and in fact, is not an existing network in Africa. It is the responsibility of the Organizing Committee to ensure interpretation in the forum, and in this regards, although the Babels international network can be of an assistance, the Babels network in East Africa, where the majority of interpreters are need to come from, needs to be actually built. For this end, it is crucial that the Organizing Committee consists of the people and organizations that are doing the actual mobilization and organization, so that there are no communication and responsibility problems. This arrangement is in accordance with the Babels understanding of its involvement, and also with the decisions taken in the WSF IC meeting in Nairobi, in March 2007. Towards this aim, it was agreed that the Babels members would be invited to participate in the weekly secretariat meetings, and in the meetings of the working groups (Logistics, Program, Resources) in order to make the interpretation issue and requirements explicit in all the phases of the organization of the event.

Draft Budget up to October 2006: Mobilization – organizing [1]

 Mobilization transports in Nairobi (60$/person/month) 540$
 Communications (10$/day) 900$
 Materials-Stationary (4$/day) 360$
 Compensation (1000$/person/month) 9000$
 Travels outside Nairobi (70$/trip) 630$

Total 11,430$

2. ALIS plan of action for WSF Nairobi 2007

In the framework of the WSF technical consultation in Nairobi, there was no special group on the interpretation equipment, therefore this plan of action was compiled by Thanos, taking in to account the discussion in the plenaries, and the relative communications with the Indian Social Forum.


The use of the ALternative Interpretation System greatly reduces the total cost for the interpretation equipment for the Forum. It still has a cost (detailed in the corresponding budget), which briefly consists of

  1. ALIS equipment (for 150 booths) 45000€
  2. Transportation, installation, radio distribution 24240€
  3. On-site technical support 13500€
  4. FM radios (50.000 items [2]) 200000€

Total: 282740€

The cost for the ALIS equipment covers the purchase of 150 booths equipment sets, 100 full booths and 20 table-top booths. If there is a need for extra backup equipment (in case, that is, that more than 120 booths are actually installed), this can be lent for free by ALIS, provided that it will be returned after the Forum. We note the capability of the ALIS equipment to be used as “on-the-fly” interpretation system, that is to be easily installed on demand in arbitrary rooms.

FM radios procurement

Action needs to be promptly taken towards securing that the FM radios will be procured in time. The Indian Social Forum will assist in finding the specific radio model to be imported (in collaboration with the ALIS group), and in the communications with the corresponding industry.
The logistical issues that need to be urgently tackled, involve:

 having a clearer assessment of the quantity required
 determining the legal status of the importing party (Name, address, whether they require prior permission, contact person in Kenya)
 the payment terms and legal formalities (LC bank regulation etc)
 timing of opening an LC
 the cost involved in importing side formalities, so that it can be added to the CIF price of a radio to have a clearer assessment of the deal
 other issues such as branding, logo etc

Regarding the issue of the batteries, and based on the experience of Athens, we note that a set of alkaline batteries are usually enough for the whole duration of the forum (4 days). It is strongly recommender to use alkaline batteries, so that the issue of replacing them and its corresponding logistical implications are greatly simplified. A provision of an extra 10%-20% would be required for replacements.

Given that three to four months are required for the deal to come through, the formalities should be addressed immediately, and they should be cleared until the end of August.

Regarding the number of radios, concern was expressed that there would not be enough money available to order 50000 radios by September. It was therefor agreed that as a first target, there would be effort to order 15000 radios, which is a number sufficient for covering the event if proper handling (lending and retrieval) can be arranged. Because of the important logistical implications of the radio handling, though, more radios will be procured if the finances allow, to permit the one-radio-per-participant approach.

ALIS technicians

The strong will of the participants was expressed to have a volunteer activist team support the equipment during the event. In that regard, effort is to be undertaken to build an ALIS team in Kenya. There was a briefing meeting at the Kenya Polytechnic, attended by 20 students and a lecturer, giving an important first base. A training session is programmed for the 10th of August, to form a first trained group. It is advisable that, apart for the actual support during the event, the groups undertakes the issues of preparation, such as following up the issues of importing the equipment, ordering the radios, training the Babels volunteers, locating the technicians that will do the repairs, locating sources for procuring cables and other equipment, etc. There should be incorporation of the group in the Organizing Committee.

It was noted that if by the beginning of September 2007 such a group cannot be formed, those tasks should be outsourced to a commercial company, that would take care of these issues for a payment. In this case, that company should be identified before the end of September 2007, and is recommended that it is the same company that will provide the PA system.


The ALIS system allows the recording of the seminars using analog or digital equipment. ALIS has built a recording software, running on Linux, that allows the recording of the original speech and interpretations. For this, a computer per room is required, sound cards (provided by ALIS), plus an operator. There is therefore an estimated cost of 400€/room for the recording.

What is actually to be taken up by the Organizing Committee regarding the recording in the Forum depends on the amount of money available, and the availability of people.

ALIS will provide a server that can stream the recordings and make them available through the Internet, that is now used for the European Social Forum recordings, at no cost.

As a first plan of action for the recordings, it was agreed that there would be effort to organize a “decentralized” recording process, where each seminar would be recorded by its organizer, and the recording would be then collected centrally. Towards this, ALIS will try to have a Windows version of the software by December, and will communicate with the groups that are organizing the seminars informing them on to do the recording themselves, alleviating the burden on the Organizing Committee.

[1This budget is in addition to the one drafted for the Mombasa area mobilization, of 184000 Ksh

[2See next section, FM radios procurement

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