IEE Newsletter

SA-GER CDR: DAAD Alumni Conference in Gordon’s Bay, South Africa

The topic of root causes of displacement in Sub-Saharan Africa brought together Alumni from DAAD African Excellence Centres.

From November 26 to December 1, the International Alumni-Conference “Tackling the root causes of displacement in Sub-Saharan Africa” took place close to Cape Town in Gordons Bay, South Africa.

The Conference was the first joint Alumni Conference of all African Excellence Centres of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) in Sub-Saharan Africa: the Ghanaian-German Centre for Development Studies at the University of Ghana, the Tanzanian-German Centre for Eastern African Legal Studies at the University of Dar es Salaam, the Namibian-German Centre for Logistics at Namibia University of Science and Technology, the South African-German Centre for Transnational Criminal Justice at UWC, the Congolese-German Centre for Microfinance at the Congo Protestant University, Kinshasa, the East and South African-German Centre for Educational Research at the Moi-University, Kenya, and the Kenyan Centre for Mining, Environmental Engineering and Resource Management at Taita Taveta University College in Voi, Kenya. The conference has been organized by the South African-German Centre for Development Research (SA-GER CDR) at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), South Africa, together with the IEE.

The topic of the Alumni-conference “Tackling the root causes of displacement in Sub-Sahara Africa” is among the focal points of the current political agenda and a priority of development policy. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) identifies initiatives “tackling the root causes of displacement” as one important field of action for refugee policy, and further states: “In recent years, wars and conflicts have forced millions of people to leave their homes. In addition to these acute causes of displacement, there are also structural causes such as poverty, inequality, weak governance, human rights violations, shortages of resources or food insecurity that gradually take their toll, eventually driving people from their homes. Regardless of how the causes of displacement have come about, the only way they can be tackled at all is through long-term efforts.”

The Centres’ regional focus on Sub-Saharan Africa is highly relevant in the context of displacement and forced migration, as the latest UNHCR mid-year trends 2015 show. Out of 57.959.702 people of concern to UNHCR, 26,6 % are from Africa (excluding North Africa) and 27,9 % are hosted in Africa (excluding North Africa).

FZ Alumni Conf 03Of about 70 applicants from different African Excellence Centres, 41 Alumni were selected to take part in the conference, together with about 20 researchers from participating Centres, 3 invited speakers, 2 DAAD representatives and 17 current DAAD students.

 Conference Participants

On the first day, the overall conference topic was introduced by invited speakers of relevant organizations and invited researchers. These points were discussed with the audience. Prof. Simon Bekker (Stellenbosch Universtiy) gave an overview on the history and current status of Cross-border displacement on the African continent, Dr. Mulugeta Dinbabo (Scalabrini Institute for Human Mobility in Africa and UWC) presented the status of International Migration in Sub-Saharan Africa while Dr. Matlotleng Matlou (UNHCR) illustrated the consequences and challenges for Organizations like the UNHCR to stem the relentless tide of displacement in Africa, south of the Sahara.

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On the left and below on the right: Conference Participants; front left: Dr. Ina Conradie

The participating Centres of African Excellence illustrated that their research and training expertise is closely related to topics that were identified as structural causes for displacement. During the second and third days, recent research activities of the African Excellence Centres and the professional experience of participating alumni were integrated in 7 Workshops.

FZ alumni conf 02Participants discussed different facets of the topic in more detail and corresponding questions, such as scale, nature, causes and consequences of food insecurity in Sub-Saharan Africa, both in rural and urban areas, as well as agricultural innovations for improved agricultural production, food safety and value chains; Regional integration; Transnational Criminal Justice; Social policies for poverty reduction; Education; Health sector interventions; Resource use, distribution & conflicts; and Evaluation of development interventions. Discussion rounds complemented the programme.

The conference offered a wide range of networking opportunities between experts, practitioners, and scientists during a Contact Fair and Poster Presentation. On the last conference day, all participants went to Avontuur Wine Estate for a farewell dinner in a wonderful setting.

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Group photo of conference participants

On the fourth day of the conference, selected alumni additionally had the possibility to present their organisation’s activities; not only to colleagues, but to current students of the two DAAD African Excellence Centres at the UWC during a Career Fair. The Career Day was facilitated by Prof. Christo de Coning and Dr. Ina Conradie, who gave very useful insights on job searching and the application process.

Three Alumni, Callistus Agbaam from Ghana (PhD student at the IEE/Ruhr-University Bochum/Germany), Phaustine Wabwire from Kenya (Senior Policy Advisor at Bread for the World Institute/USA), and Chifundo Patience Chilera from Malawi (Programme Officer at the Commonwealth Secretariat; one of 26 Africa's Most Outstanding Emerging Women Leaders according to the Moremi Initiative for Women Leadership in Africa) gave a presentation on their reintegration experience and strategies and challenges to enter the job market.

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A new Alumni Initiative was introduced by Charlton Tzodzo from Zimbabwe. A follow up on this will be reported in the next IEE Newsletter.

On the left: Charlton Tzodzo and Britta Niklas

The conference was financed by the DAAD with funds of the BMZ.

NiklasBritta Niklas
Coordinator South African German Centre for Development Research
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Phone: +49 (0)234 / 32-25148
Fax: +49 (0)234 / 32-14294

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