Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Working for ACIAR in the Africa regional office

My favourite Australian expression is, “Have a go,” and through my four years with the ACIAR regional office in Africa, I have used this motto to do what I have to, to support our activities in Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA).
Liz (right) with farmers and their sweetpotato harvest (in the bag) in Zimbabwe. Photo: Liz Ogutu.
Although ACIAR has been implementing projects in Africa since 1983, there never was a regional or country office in the region, but with the establishment of the Australian International Food Security and Research Centre in 2011 by the Australian Government, it was decided that an office was necessary to coordinate the activities of the projects.

After much negotiation and consultation, a regional office was set up in Nairobi under Australia’s High Commission and soon included the mandate to manage all of ACIAR’s projects in the region.

I was ACIAR’s first employee in Africa and through research program managers and senior management guidance and support, our office has grown in relationships and partnerships from four active projects in ESA in 2011 to seventeen projects in 2016. This is a massive show of support to African development and I will forever be grateful to have been part of this growth.

As an agricultural warrior, I look fondly on the great experiences I have had with ACIAR in Australia, in South East Asia and in Africa. I could not have asked for a better group of colleagues to help me in my career. Therefore, last week we hosted most of our project coordinators from 12 countries in Nairobi and we had a great time sharing experiences including the successes and challenges we face in implementing research projects. I can confidently say that these projects are innovative and I see huge impact in the lives of other agricultural warriors and the farmers of Africa.

ACIAR Partners Forun, September 2016. Photo: Liz Ogutu.

I am now at a stage where I need to explore and browse. In spite of the few challenges I have faced, my time with ACIAR has been one of the best I’ve had in my career. I’m glad I rolled up my sleeves four years ago and to the new regional manger in Africa....

“Have a go!” – it’s the best decision you’ll ever make.

By Liz Ogutu, Regional Manager Eastern and Southern Africa, ACIAR

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