The seminar, hosted at Sandele Eco Retreat and Learning Centre in The Gambia (www.sandele.com), was split into two parts.
Arkleton Trust hosted the first three days. An issues paper had been prepared in advance formed from information provided by the awardees who had been involved in recent exchange trips. The issues paper reflected upon the major issues raised and what they mean. Furthermore, the seminar was an opportunity to hear the personal views of the invitees (not their organisations). The overarching topic was ‘rural insecurities and building resilience’. Insecurity takes many forms in rural parts of the world and the focus of this seminar was to share experiences between community groups across Africa and India. The reality of these insecurities goes beyond lack of access to health, education, sanitation etc., but in a more connected world, expectations and knowledge of what could be available is ever increasing and therefore raises expectations, especially amongst the young.
The age-old problems of lack of well-being continue to be issues and need addressing, however economic and environmental migration continues to explode as time moves forward. Whether it is rural youth departing their villages for a ‘better life’ in the city or rural youth taking the ‘back way’ risking life and limb to get to Europe, or whole communities who have been effected by climate change looking for a new place to call home. The ingenuity of communities to succeed is profound and many of the communities with whom the Arkleton Trust has been involved have addressed issues in innovative ways. However, there are still challenges faced by them on the ground, such as infrastructure and other systemic issues, which can limit the concept of an enabling environment. It is for this reason that as well as the participants from local communities from The Gambia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Cameroon, Malawi and India, the Arkleton Trust invited a few policy makers and academics to benefit from the opportunity to hear things ‘from the horse’s mouth.’
The various issues that had been addressed through the exchanges of experience funded in the last few years have included – renewable energy, rain water harvesting, economic development, female and child health and empowerment, education and waste management. The intention was to address the broader issues of rural insecurity and building resilience as they are informed from this grass roots audience.
The final three days involved a focus on improved solid waste management, hosted by Waste Aid, taking a participatory approach to:
- Highlight and understand the concerns that delegates had around waste, their major challenges, their vision for cleaner, healthier communities and their preferred approaches to getting there;
- Critically review the draft guidance produced as part of the CIWM project, test the suggested technologies, suggest improvements too content and style, recommend how best to disseminate;
- Masterclasses on measuring, managing, reprocessing and valorizing different types of recyclables. Capacity building on the problems that poor solid waste management lead to and development of an approach to engage communities to address this.
- Discussion and development of a community waste network for Africa – whether there is interest, how it would look, how to take it forward?