Under the AUC capacity building program, our senior staff was nominated for the Commonwealth Professional Fellowship that was hosted by Coventry University Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations (CTPSR). The CPF is offered by the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission (CSC) for citizens of developing Commonwealth countries. The Fellowship support mid-career professionals to spend a period of time with a UK host organization working in their field for a program of professional development. Under this arrangement the Fellowship purpose was to provide professionals with the opportunity to enhance knowledge and skills in their given sector, and to have catalytic effects on their workplaces.
The fellowship was focusing on “Improving Natural Resource Governance through Citizen Engagement”, and had three thematic areas; (1) governance challenges, societal transformation and the role of community engagement in improving natural resource governance; (2) sustainable use of resources, ecosystems services, land use and water management; and (3) sustainable development, conflict prevention and global perspectives. The program had two key objectives to be achieved at the end and these included;
First, it aimed at helping to improve the knowledge and skills of civil society fellows in engaging in natural resource management, thereby empowering them to contribute to poverty reduction and peace building in their home countries. Second, it aimed at disseminating the civil society fellows’ achievements and challenges in engaging with the issues around natural resource-based development and hence to creating synergies with the CTPSR and its networks for future cooperation.
The fellowship programme torched to the development and peacebuilding needs of natural resource endowed countries, especially in East African countries where there have been recent discoveries of oil resources. While the natural resource sector can be a catalyst for development, unequal distribution of socio-economic and environmental impacts from the sector often leads to tension and conflict in society.
The programme had a unique design and offered highly inter-disciplinary fellowship training that included the renowned Centre for Agro-ecology and Water Resilience (CAWR) located at Garden Organic, the Geography, Environment and Disaster Management (GED) department which teaches popular oil, gas and environment courses, as well as seminar series and other external networks in the UK.
The programme combined a variety of workshops, seminars and field trips, over a period of four weeks in United Kingdom, using reflective learning process, Learning journals, and weekly reflection sessions with programme mentors in developing action plans and ideas for their organisations and communities, and for future collaboration with the new networks and the host institution.
Media communication training at CTPSR, Coventry University
In terms of exposer and skills development, I visit innovative projects in Coventry and the Midlands, including engineering programmes championed by the university such as the Microcab project’s zero emissions hydrogen car or the work of the University’s engineering department for low impact building. Later, the fellow participated in initial trainings in equality and diversity and intercultural communication to common research themes of the CTPSR and integration into the working life at the University.
In addition, engaged with questions of natural resource governance in the UK and also shared their experiences as professionals working in this sector in Africa. I took a one day visit to Ryton Organic gardens, the Centre for Agroecology and Water Resilience, and met with the Centre’s research staff working on these questions.
The fellow took a visit to the Centre for Alternative Technology CAT’ in Wales in figure below, and participated in the graduate programme on ecosystems services, land use, waste water management and improving systems for the sustainable use of resources. Various topics that include flooding and drainage, water and waste water, sewage management, food security, liberation ecology, sustainable agriculture, contaminated land, and bioremediation formed part of the training.
A swing balance for collecting community water from the valley
Progress seminar on Second change education in Northern Uganda