Melle Leenstra

Melle Leenstra (The Hague, 1976) calls himself the Chief Knowledge and Inspiration Officer at the Sub-Sahara Africa Department (DAF) of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He is a graduate of Rural Development from Wageningen University & Research with fieldwork experience in IFDC in Togo (on developmental credit-based fertiliser delivery) and ILRI in Kenya (on developmental community-based tsetse control).

On joining the Foreign Service, he followed a three-month postgraduate programme for starting diplomats at Campus The Hague of Leiden University in 2004. During a posting as desk officer for Zambia and Zimbabwe at DAF he contributed to developing an IS-Academy partnership between the African Studies Centre Leiden and the Africa Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This facilitated a PhD-project on the Zambian health sector, from a political science/public administration perspective, comprising field work and a secondment to the ASCL. During his diplomatic career with postings in Uganda, Kenya and Egypt, Leenstra thematically focused on political affairs and sustainable and inclusive food systems. Brokering cooperation and exchange of knowledge and expertise on the nexus or research-policy and practice nexus has been a constant in his career. This has led to an academic interest in the human factor of international cooperation connecting the Netherlands with Africa.

Recent publications:

Leenstra, Melle (2018). The human factor in development cooperation: An effective way to deal with unintended effects. Evaluation and Program Planning, 68: 218-224.

Leenstra, Melle (2014). From suitcase farmers to telephone farmers: agriculture and diversified livelihoods among urban professionals. In: Digging deeper: Inside Africa’s agricultural, food and nutrition dynamics. Brill, p. 217-231.

Fellow member
Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs