Throughout the Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW6) I have been a big consumer of AASW6 Blog and #AASW6 Tweets. I retweeted and interacted as much as I could from Italy. That was my way to participate.
With a theme like “Africa feeding Africa,” what, supposedly, would I have been able to do there on-site? The over 40 young professionals invited from YPARD Africa to report using social media could speak for themselves far better than I could speak for them!
I considered that my role from afar would be more valuable, guiding them prior to the event on communications tips and tricks, inspiring them, and letting them go to hold the YPARD flag and torch. Who better than YPARD Africa representatives to bring to the table their own issues, and propose their own solutions?
I also wanted to experiment with looking at the event from the outside, particularly to better understand what an “online participant” can get from a huge international event like AASW6. Taking into account connectivity problems and other work here at home interfering, the challenge would be a big one!
The social reporters and coordinators made EXCELLENT work of covering the proceedings of AASW6, in view of the limitations they faced. The blogposts were particularly catching and informative! The causes of women and youth – two that are very close to my heart — were voiced particularly loudly. Great job, Guys!
Still, I wriggle in my seat. I am less than 30 years old and have less than 4 years experience in international development. How is it possible that I already have the feeling that I’ve been hearing the same broad statements over and over again? “Africa is rich in resources;” “Africa can feed Africa;” “We shouldn’t do research for research, but research for development;” “Investing in youth is ensuring the sustainable future of agriculture.”
Is it that we must be persistently reminded for fear of losing track? Is it a consequence of following online, resulting in my not being able to catch deeper reflections happening on-site? It could be.
In any case, the purpose of such a big gathering is to ensure that people work in the same direction, towards the same goal: food security and poverty eradication.
I strongly believe that such meeting is necessary and fruitful for networking and people-connecting, building and strengthening collaborations for more effective and bigger impact. Still, I wonder what sort of results these types of meeting bring in terms of concrete and impactful follow-up actions.
With this thought in mind, I would like to address Young Professionals directly:
Your participation had a cost, and a significant one (flight, hotel, catering, meetings, logistics etc etc)! How do you feel your participation contributed to the overall goal of AASW6: the sustainable development of agriculture? What will you bring back home with you and how will you build upon it?
Tell us, or more importantly, show us! The future is in your hands, and because I am lucky enough to work with you, I know it is in good hands. Let’s build sustainable and improved livelihoods — quicker, and better!
For related info: YPARD – Ensuring an inclusive youth contribution to the AASW