Retrospective: ASC Community Country Meetings

How well do you know your African flags? In the past six months, my knowledge of them has improved considerably as I carefully put an African flag on the cover of country dossiers no fewer than 19 times while assembling the dossiers for the ASC Community’s country meetings. The following nine meetings, which were held between November 2012 and April 2013, had an average attendance of 40.

Participants at the Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda Country Meeting

  • 13 November 2012:  Kenya and Tanzania, 33 participants
  • 25 January 2013: Cameroon, 38 participants
  • 7 February 2013: Ethiopia and South Sudan, 35 participants
  • 21 February 2013: Ghana and Beninm, 63 participants
  • 7 March 2013: Mali and Chad, 51 participants (a Crisis Watch meeting in cooperation with ICCO)
  • 15 March 2013: Botswana and South Africa, 41 participants
  • 5 April 2013: Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda, 46 participants
  • 19 April 2013: Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, 48 participants
  • 25 April 2013: Niger and Nigeria, 25 participants

The Botswana and South Africa meeting was held in the beautiful Kerkzaal at the VU University in Amsterdam, the Ethiopia and South Sudan meeting was at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (BuZa) and the Ghana and Benin meeting was held at the Dutch Development Bank FMO in The Hague. The other meetings took place at the ASC in Leiden.

The aim of the meetings, which attracted policy makers and people from science, politics, business, civil society and the media, was to discuss recent developments in the ASC’s focus countries from different perspectives and to provide an occasion for networking. The following organizations, among others, were represented: the embassies of Cameroon, Botswana, Rwanda and Nigeria, Rabobank, the FMO, the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the universities of Amsterdam, Leiden, Wageningen, Utrecht, Rotterdam, Brussels and Ghent, Shell, IKV Pax Christi, Cordaid, Amref Flying Doctors, Nuffic, ICCO & Kerk in Actie, Leger des Heils, the Kgotla Company and a B&B owner from Burundi.

Maaike Westra did a tremendous job in organizing all the meetings so efficiently and enthusiastic organizers from the ASC put together a varied programme for each meeting with speakers from different universities, businesses, NGOs and/or people working in policy circles. The meetings were followed by drinks and the participants had a good opportunity then to meet others and visit the book stands. One had a display of books from the ASC library and the other, manned by Marieke van Winden, had ASC publications. And Fred Koorn and his Siyabonga products, namely beautiful handmade Fair Trade items from South Africa, were also present at the Botswana and South Africa meeting.

The participants at each meeting received an information package with the programme, a list of participants, the relevant chapters from the most recent Africa Yearbook, a paper on ‘Agricultural Performances’ (based on an analysis of FAOstat data) by Ton Dietz, a copy of the paper entitled ‘Results of Young Child Anthropometry from the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS)’ by Wijnand Klaver, and general statistical overviews and country dossiers assembled by Edith de Roos. These dossiers each consisted of four parts:

  • (digital) books and journal articles from the last two years that are available in the ASC catalogue
  • news from newspapers about the specific country
  • specific information from the Internet library Sub-Saharan Africa (ilissAfrica), an Internet portal to scholarly information and websites on Africa
  • Dutch PhD theses on each African country

These ASC Community country meetings were well organized and instructive, the collaboration between the library and the ASC’s research department was good and there was an excellent exchange of information. It was a real pleasure for me to be part of these successful meetings!

Edith de Roos

ASC Library

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