Contributed by: Mieke Bourne
In early December 2016, 43 participants and trainers came together in Solwezi, Zambia for the third African Landcare Masterclass.
Masterclass participants and trainers in Solwezi, Zambia
Participants were drawn from local farmer groups as well as extension and development staff in the district, while Landcare practitioners and trainers attended from South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Malawi and Australia.
The class started with an introduction to landcare with a number of country experiences, and Lydia Bosoga highlighted the need for community-led programs by saying “I have seen lots of programs that have fallen down because it was just a funded project and the people had not said that they wanted it”. Landcare is community-led so it should always address people’s felt needs.
The class covered many topics including facilitation and coordination, monitoring and evaluation, marketing, networking and value chains. A field trip allowed participants to reflect on the criteria that could be used to design and evaluate grassroots programs and activities.
Landcare Masterclass participants during the field visit
The Masterclass aimed to provide a platform for sharing experiences amongst local, regional and international landcare practitioners, and to enhance local capacities to support grassroots groups. Another significant objective of the class was to further develop the concept of a large-scale land restoration initiative for Southern Africa, which will use grassroots approaches and be led by landcare practitioners.
By the close of the Masterclass all participants voluntarily stood up and pledged personal actions to enhance landcare and natural resource management in the area, and the formation of a district and provincial Landcare Network was supported. It is hoped that this class will act as a seed to inspire further grassroots work and capacity building in northern Zambia and beyond.
The Masterclass was organised by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in collaboration with Australian Landcare International and the African Landcare Network. The class was made possible through financial support from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) through the project ‘Developing value chain innovation platforms to improve food security in East and Southern Africa (VIP4FS)’ and the Crawford Fund, Australia, which provided funds for regional and Australian trainers to attend.
For more information about Landcare Masterclasses in Africa, please contact Mieke Bourne by email, email@example.com.