After Lagos: Reflections and New Horizons in the SFA

The line between the personal and the professional is one that is more defined for some than others - what we feel versus what we think, what we love versus what we do. The line between the past and future is also held (in the present moment) differently from person to person. For some, the present is contingent on the past, seen through the eyes of, and felt through the experiences of, the past. For others, the present is made up of what is seen around you now; and is a stance that is looking towards the future, able to see it best if looking directly at it, with one’s back to the past. As I reflect on my work in international contexts, with development and sustainability related projects and partners, and in particular with my colleagues across the Sustainable Futures in Africa Network over the past weeks and years, I realise that those lines between personal and professional, and between past and future, become ever harder to make out, ever more slippery. My personal, my history and inheritance, my instincts and emotions, my profession and my expertise seem entirely entangled. It is with this recognition that I share the following statement, taken in part from an opening address to our recent symposium, and in part from a period of reflection in the immediate aftermath.

Read more


Panel Event: Moving towards a new approach to development-related research

From the 26th to the 28th March 2018 the Sustainable Futures in Africa Hub Coordinators and Administrators from Scotland, Malawi, Nigeria and Botswana met at the University of Glasgow.

The following items were on the agenda:

  1. Successes and Challenges of running the administration/infrastructure of the SFA Network Hubs
  2. Open Panel Presentation at the University of Glasgow
  3. Harmonization of Administrative Structures of the Network
  4. Strategic Needs and Direction for the Network

For more information you can read the report: Report SFA Hub Coordinators and Administrator Meeting April 2018

Glasgow Workshop
SFA Hub Coordinators and Administrators, University of Glasgow April 2018

 


Panel presentation

Sustainable Futures in Africa: Moving towards a new approach to development-related research

The Sustainable Futures in Africa (SFA) Network brings together researchers, practitioners, and communities from the Global North and Global South in one platform for learning, partnerships, and new approaches to research and development. Network hub coordinators from Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda, and Botswana join us for a panel discussion on the evolving practices of the SFA. In particular, the presentations and discussion will revolve around the challenges and possibilities of working across differences of discipline, sector, and geography. We promise a lively discussion, open to many perspectives, contexts, and questions.


Prioritizing the Challenges to the Development of Mining Communities in Nigeria

Prioritizing the Challenges to the Development of Mining Communities in Nigeria.

Sustainable Futures in Africa researchers from Obafemi Awolowo University and Women Environmental Programme headed to Komu-Igbojaye-Babaode Mining Communities in Oyo State to experiment methodologically  to uncover the socio-ecological impact of the mining on the local community.

You can find a snapshot of the trial below, where a drone was used to gather geographical information to support the data analysis.

A detailed report from our last research trial is here for more information: https://sustainablefuturesinafrica.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/itagunmodi.pdf


SFA researchers from Obafemi Awolowo University and Women Environmental Programme conducted field trials in the Isoya Community, Western Nigeria to explore the use of rituals in agriculture:  the indigenous practice of using dead dogs to control termites in cocoa farmlands.

Cocoa is the leading agricultural export of Nigeria, the country is currently the world's fourth-largest producer of cocoa, yet termite control becomes the major challenge for the plant cultivation. Though existent agricultural practice provides a range of plant protection solutions, the Nigerian farmers prefer to employ native rituals.

A5C4DDDA-EB42-4B31-9C4E-660DB9FC44AC

Various beliefs guide the norm of ritual practice in Nigeria. The tradition of using the dead flesh in agriculture has been restricted in the country, yet farmers claim this method to be the most effective to prevent termites invasion and keep on practising this ritual through the restriction.

For the local farmers, this practice has a dual meaning: rational and spiritual. Rationally, they use decaying flesh to bring ants to the field in order to exterminate termites.  For this, the farmers palm-oil dead dogs and bury animals on every corner of the field. Spiritually, the farmers believe in a mysterious connection between dogs and termites that adds particular significance to the practice.

An interdisciplinary analysis will be conducted on this data during the upcoming Symposium and results will be shared shortly.

This January, SFA ran a Community Awareness event in Kampala, Uganda, to develop a deeper understanding of the impact of plastic waste on the environment and community life.
UG1
In the recent years, Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, has witnessed an alarming growth of waste that equals to 730,000 tons a day, of which only 1% is currently recycled. SFA researchers from Makerere University and representatives of the Ugandan Art Trusts met the local community in Banda, Kampala city, to find possible solutions to plastic waste disposal through the art and culture practical tools. This event was hosted by EcoAction, a non-government organisation led by Reagan Kandole, an eco-artist and lecturer at Kyambogo University.
The participants gathered in the community space, designed out of plastic bottles, to find the answer to the question on how cultural practices can help to address the problem of waste disposal. The community members came out with some sketches on waste management, followed by the group discussion facilitated by the SFA researchers from the Makerere University.
At the end of the workshop, the community came up with various solutions on waste utilisation that we would be happy to share shortly.

ecoAction

EcoAction works in the field of waste management and environmental problems that threaten the health and quality of li
fe of the communities in the region for many years.  One example of a recent project delivered by EcoAction involved the local community in the creation of a mural aimed at educating community members about different recycling practices.  For more information, please visit the EcoAction website.

Africa in Motion (AiM)

Africa in Motion (AiM) is an annual African film festival, taking place in Scotland, consisting of film screenings and complementary events. It was founded by SFA partner Dr Lizelle Bisschoff. Now in its twelfth year, AiM brings the best of African cinema to Scotland—making it possible for Scottish audiences to engage with African stories and industry professionals from the continent.  Our 2017 festival was a great success, attracting diverse audiences to events in both Edinburgh and Glasgow. We presented a varied programme with a range of genres and events, with over 80 films from 28 countries. The programme included a number of dine-and-view events that paired food with films from the continent, community screenings, films accompanied by panel discussions and Q&As, workshops and even a club night!

Diversity and inclusion is at the heart of Africa in Motion, and at the 2017 festival we further developed our efforts to create an inclusive festival programme. This is hugely important for AiM as 27% of our audiences come from a BAME background. Many of our events were free, and we offered free tickets for refugees and asylum seekers for paid screenings (in particular we partnered with the Unity Centre offering free screenings to their members). Our programme was also inclusive in terms of gender, with 18 of the films in the programme being F-rated, meaning they were directed by women and/or have a strong female focus.

For more information, see: www.africa-in-motion.org.uk

https://www.facebook.com/aimfilmfest/

 

https://twitter.com/AiMfilmfest


TRENDS2017 | Between Cities and the Rural: The Role of Universities in Developing our Societies

Reflection on Conference Attendance

Conference Name:          TRENDS2017

Location & Date:              Pretoria, South Africa – October 17-19 2017

Paper Presented:             A Cross-disciplinary Approach to Locating Human Wildlife Interaction in the Mmadinare Region of Botswana

Authors:                              Modise OM. Lekoko RN , Thakadu O & Mpotokwane M.; University of Botswana

Presenters:                         Profs. Modise & Lekoko

TRENDS2017 marked the 14th year of PASCAL International conference and the first to be held in South Africa. The theme of the conference was Between Cities and the Rural: The Role of Universities in Developing our Societies. Team Botswana was particularly attracted to the conferences strands that weaved around important areas of (i) the role of nation state versus the global economic power (ii) Cities would be like countries with global power and (iii) Rethinking the role of universities. The theme of interest for the Botswana team was the third strand because it wanted participants to dialogue about and gauge the present and future responsibilities of universities in collaborating with communities to address community or national development. Botswana’s paper on human-wildlife interactions fitted well in this strand calling universities to team up with communities to address local challenges using traditional community approaches such as Kgotla and story-telling thus connecting ‘with the old and modern African tradition’, as was one main theme of the conference. Proceedings were thus tailored to take a form of everyday life consultation and dialogue as used in “the Kgotla or Lekgotla in Botswana and South Africa”(TRENDS2017).  To this respect, our paper was able to bring unique practical perspectives on the importance of using traditional indigenous community practices in dealing with human-wildlife conflict.

The paper we presented was enlightening, shedding light on how universities can make themselves valued by the communities. Like the Sustainable Futures Network, the Pascal 2017 Pretoria Statement stated that “Pascal’s Learning City Network must be sustained in order to provide a platform for inter-cultural, inter-disciplinary and international exchange between cities/regions”.  It unpacked how worldwide perspectives generated through research in universities could be prolifically applied on local possibilities. This we believe echoes the sentiments expressed by the Sustainable Futures Network.

 Our paper attracted constructive feedback:

Suggestions for improvement

Explore in detailed elephants migration routes

  • Correlation analysis and comparison with experiences elsewhere may add value
  • A broader geographical sampling (within Botswana) may be considered to allow comparison
  • Construct a robust sampling of study site
  • Collect more publicly available data e.g. through informal discussion of the villagers.

Commendation

  • The use of familiar and non-traditional research techniques like community forum (Kgotla) and story-telling
  • Cultural sensitivity of respecting community leaders (Dikgosi & elders) as principal investigators
  • Approaching the study with an interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary mind-set and respect for community members
  • Robust data selection and analysis to bring out what conflict meant for the villagers
  • Presenting the interviews with more authority from the voices of community members

With all these comments our study will continue to improve and advance into a more holistic exploration of this challenge of human-wildlife conflict.

The Research Team in Botswana would like to appreciate the support and thank Mia Perry (coordinator of University Court of University of Glasgow - Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) for this opportunity to present at TRENDS2017 conference, which in our opinion is a giant step on a journey to Building Connections for Sustainable Futures in Africa.

The comments given will be taken into consideration as the research advances.

For more information please visit: http://pascalobservatory.org/ & http://cradall.org/resources/links/pascal-international-observatory

Tweets by obspascal https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js


A 'No Method' Approach to Empowering Local Communities

Team Uganda carried out field trials in two distinctive communities namely; Kibanjwa Community in Hoima district, Western Uganda and Apala Community in Apala sub-Country, Alebtong district in Northern Uganda. The choice for Kibanjwa community was influenced by the recent discovery of oil in the area and the impacts that this has had on the communities surrounding the oil wells. The whole experience although challenging, was worthwhile and insightful as it delved into how the local people in Uganda view and interact with their environment. It was also a learning experience for the multi-disciplinary research team, as they worked together on an issue of common concern. People came in large numbers for community forums, especially in Alebtong due to the fact that it is served by Widows and Orphanage Centre (AWOC), a partner of the SFA network.

People of Kibanjwa putting their heads together to identify their challenges, and how they can tackle them

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apala community was chosen because of its native identity as a “healing community” recovering from a 20-year old insurgency that claimed so many lives, and left families in distress and brokenness. The field trial for each study site lasted four days. In Kibanjwa, the field trial was from the 10th June to the 13th June 2017, while in Alebtong it was from the 17th June to the 20th June 2017.

The team employed a “no method” approach in the two study sites, which was very much influenced by the desire to empower the local people to talk freely about their world. Data collection approaches used included observations, quasi-transects walks, community forums and home visits. The level of knowledgeability, open-mindedness and degree of freedom of expression portrayed by the community participants, made the process enjoyable, fruitful and offered a desirable degree of flexibility not restrictive to any specific method. The whole process was a mixture of compromises, surprises, breaking new ground and contestation, but eventually the team reached a common understanding.

Joseph & Kevin from the Ugandan Research Team with notebooks listening and recording experiences of Apala community members during a quasi – transect walk

Unearthing the Dynamics of Human and Wildlife Interactions

On the 10th July 2017, the Batswana research team traveled well to Mmadinare, Botswana where they conducted field research. Goitse, SFA Botswana network partner shares her experience below:

We were well received by the village Chief and elders. The community also received us warmly and they positively shared information with us. They showed a high level of interest during discussions which enabled us to achieve the idea of a Kgotla forum. The positive attitude and response portrayed by the community guaranteed future cooperation. People were very balanced as to what they could also do as a contribution to the problem of human-wildlife interaction. They were familiar with the subject as it transpired that they had already made a proposal for a game reserve through the ‘Community Development Trust’, with the objective of both keeping elephants away from people and at the same time benefiting from them as a tourist attraction.

'This experience brought to the surface that the issue of human-wildlife interaction was not an imagined thing, but rather a reality.'

The venue was conducive for the community forum discussion, as it was a familiar and non-threatening environment. The team managed to achieve our goal because a smooth relationship was established right from the beginning. The community members participated fully and brought to the surface that the issue of human-wildlife interaction was not an imagined thing, but rather a reality.

The team presented itself in a manner that enhanced the reception that they received. There was a free flow of information and people were free to discuss issues and there was no evidence to suggest that they perceived the team as outsiders. They, in fact, felt that a collaborative relationship could be established where they could always consult the team should they need technical or professional assistance.

The harmonious process helped the forum to produce quality results as people shared relevant information.

The forum was focused in terms of identifying the realities of their lives. While they shared concerns relating to their interaction with wildlife, they indicate a desire to co-exist with elephants which demonstrated a high level of maturity, knowledge, and understanding of environmental issues. They even asked to be part of the next network meeting through a representative if it were possible. Overall, people showed eagerness to participate - an attitude that made the whole trip a success.