Dear Sarah,

We at the Secretariat would like to take this opportunity to extend to you our sincere thanks and appreciation, as you transition from your position of Director of Development and Communications to a voluntary advisor role. We have truly loved working with you over the past year and have often admired your sincerity, drive, and insight. You leave us with many great accomplishments and ongoing initiatives, some of which you will continue to manage. We look forward to continuing a close working relationship, and send you the warmest of wishes from your team in Montreal.

All the best,

ICAI staff

In this Exchange

* Update: 7th Global Conference on Human Development
* Update: 2008 General Assembly
* International Training Program for Leadership in Human    Development
* Robert Calderisi to speak at inaugural Innovation in Human    Development Speaker Series event
* A Local Perspective on the Elections in Zimbabwe
* Responding to the Humanitarian Crisis in Tajikistan
* Food Security through Natural Resource Conservation in Togo
* Voices of Young Leaders in Chile
* Secretariat Fiscal Year 2007 Audit Completed


7th Global Conference on Human Development

Update from the Central Conference Planning Committee
Shizuyo Sato (co-chair), Lambert Okrah (co-chair)

Are you ready to Unlock the Potential to Create a New World Together?

Please make note of an official date and venue change, due to unexpected complications with the previously announced venue:

Hida Earth Wisdom Center
Takayama, Japan
17-21 November 2008

Please update your calendars!

Located almost in the center of the Japanese archipelago, Takayama is home to narrow valleys that stretch between countless steep mountains, dotted with villages. From the official city website: “Hida-Takayama has preserved the feeling of a castle town, apparent by its history-filled streets. With the latticed bay windows and linked eaves of merchants' houses in Sanmachi Suji, the enduring historical temples and shrines of Higashiyama, and the reproduction of Hida's traditional mountain farming villages of sloped-roof houses at Hida Folk Village, the town itself could be called a sightseeing spot. The Takayama festival held in spring and fall is known as one of the three most beautiful festivals of Japan (the other two are the Gion Festival of Kyoto and the Chichibu Night Festival of Saitama Prefecture). Ornate floats crafted by Hida artisans are pulled around, and Takayama becomes truly energetic. When visiting Takayama, you can certainly savor the arts and culture of traditional craftsmen while enjoying the feel of the ancient city.”

This exceptional setting will provide an inspiring backdrop for what promises to be a landmark ICA event. The Central Conference Planning Committee is hard at work to revise costs integrate these into the registration system, which will all be circulated as soon as possible.

The Conference Planning Subcommittee on Design and Dynamics also got underway recently with its first meeting. Subcommittee members include Mohan Bagwandas, Nadine Bell, Heidi Kolbe, Jo Nelson, Larry Philbrook, and Rob Work, together with Central Conference Planning Committee co-chairs Shizuyo Sato and Lambert Okrah.

Additional Conference Planning Subcommittees on Pre-Conference ToP Training, Research, Documentation, Volunteers, Scholarships, Youth Participation, Art Components, and Post-Conference Activities are also forming now.
Email Mike Watson to get involved and help to unlock the potential in all of us!


2008 ICAI General Assembly
Update from the Board of Directors
F. Nelson Stover

The 2008 General Assembly will take place immediately following the 7th Global Conference on Human Development, on 22-23 November 2008. The Board of Directors has started to assemble the meeting agenda, which will focus on a review of the organization’s strategic directions.  Some technical items will be presented to General Assembly representatives for a vote in advance of the meeting, in order to leave maximum time for face-to-face discussion while we are together in Takayama. Given the change in venue, costs are now being revised and will be circulated as soon as possible.

Specific agenda suggestions are welcome from all General Assembly representatives. Please send these to me via email by 1 October 2008.


International Training Program for Leadership in Human Development
Sarah Farina

Meet the Participants!    Meet the Team!

This year’s inaugural, six-week International Training Program for Leadership in Human Development (ILHD) will take place from 26 May4 July 2008.

Three weeks will be hosted in Montreal (Quebec, Canada), which will include a one-week work experience with a Montreal-based organization. An additional three weeks will be hosted at the Falls Brook Centre in Knowlesville (New Brunswick, Canada). Phase One will examine the history, philosophy and methods of ICA; Phase Two will explore sustainability in practice; and Phase Three will address tools for maintaining a robust organization.

Program Highlights:

  • Faculty with over a century of combined ICA and ToP training experience
  • Human Development Exposition highlighting ICA experience in participant countries (13 June in New Brunswick and 25 June in Montreal)
  • Story Gathering workshop conducted by the founders of Swamp Gravy
  • Site visits to demonstration projects in organic agriculture, renewable energy and forest stewardship
  • Donor Roundtable to understand donors’ perspectives on using financial resources to achieve a mission
  • Social events including Quebec’s provincial holiday and Canada day

National ICA staff from Bangladesh, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, Egypt, Ghana, Nepal, Nigeria, South Africa, Tajikistan, and the United States will participate. If you wouldlike tosend encouraging words to participants in this year’s ILHD, please email us! We willread out your message during the training sessions.

Robert Calderisi. Photo by Andrew Dobrowolskyj  

Robert Calderisi to speak at inaugural Innovation in Human Development
 Speaker Series event
Michael Watson

With the launching of the United Nations Human Development Report in 1990, “human development” entered our global lexicon to describe the process by which people build their capacities, expand their choices, and develop their full potential to lead productive, creative, fulfilling lives. As a global community, we have now come to recognize people as the greatest assets of any society – and human development as the lynchpin of progress in all other arenas.

The Innovation in Human Development Speaker Series will highlight persons and organizations that have put forward new ideas, practices or methods that deepen our shared understanding of how human development is realized, and as a forum for fostering open discussion and critical reflection.

The inaugural event in the series will take place on 25 June 2008, at the De Seve Theatre at Concordia University in Montreal, at 6pm. It will feature Robert Calderisi, former Africa spokesperson for the World Bank, Montreal native, and author of The Trouble with Africa: Why Foreign Aid Isn’t Working.

In addition to launching the speaker series, the 25 June lecture event is being organized to celebrate the Secretariat’s move to Montreal and will feature a reception co-hosted by Montreal International. A Human Development Exposition highlighting ICA experiences will also be carried out in coordination with the lecture, as a component of the International Training Program for Leadership in Human Development.

Entrance to the lecture and exposition are free and open to the public. Mark your calendars!


Secretariat Fiscal Year 2007 Audit is Completed
Katie Burke

Audited financial statements for fiscal year 2007 have just been completed by ICAI’s independent auditors, Robichaud Mignault, and are available for download here from the ICAI website. The ICAI Board President, Treasurer, and Secretary met with the auditor and signed the audited financial statements on 15 April 2008, during their recent meeting in Montreal.


A Local Perspective on the Elections
Gerald Gomani

On the 29 March 2008 election, Mugabe faced a challenge from Morgan Tsvangirai, the main opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and Simba Makoni, a former finance minister who ran for president as an independent. Mugabe lost control of parliament for the first time in 28 years to the main opposition party, MDC, led by Tsvangirai. Soon after the announcement of the parliamentary elections, the presidential result was put on hold and, as I write, it has now been three weeks and we are still in suspense as a country.

Robert Mugabe, now 84 years old, has served as head of state in Zimbabwe since independence in 1980. He is one of the world's most controversial leaders. His rise in Zimbabwean politics was the result of the prominent role he played in the Zimbabwe African National Union (Zanu) in the guerrilla war against the government of Ian Smith.

Smith arrested Mugabe in 1964. Mugabe spent the next ten years in prison, where he earned three of his seven university degrees.

After his release, he took control of Zanu, and led its militant wing from Mozambique. He played an important role in the talks that produced the Lancaster House Agreement, signed in 1979, which ended the discriminatory regime of Smith and resulted in Zimbabwean independence.

In Zimbabwe's first election in 1980, Zanu won an overwhelming victory, taking 57 of 80 seats in the new parliament, and Mugabe became Prime Minister. His main political competitor was Joshua Nkomo, the leader of Zapu, who was enormously popular in the southern Zimbabwean region of Matabeleland. Nkomo served in the cabinet of a coalition government until 1983, when Mugabe fired him, triggering a bitter dispute in the country.

Thousands died in conflict in Matabeleland in the early 1980s, and both Mugabe and the Zimbabwean army have been accused of serious human rights abuses. In 1988, Zapu and Zanu merged to form the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF), and Zimbabwe effectively became an one-party state for the next decade.

In 1987, Mugabe became President when the office of Prime Minister was abolished. Zimbabwe's economy grew steadily throughout the 1990s, but there were hints of problems ahead. The International Monetary Fund was concerned with the slow pace of reform, and the World Bank predicted major problems in the health care sector.

In 2000, Mugabe lost a constitutional referendum that would have strengthened his hold on power. However, the parliament still passed an amendment implementing the changes rejected by voters.

Zimbabwe's economy has plummeted in recent years. Many farms have been seized by the government, farm workers have been chased off their land and agricultural production has fallen. The country that was once the bread basket of southern Africa now relies on food aid from the World Food Programme to feed its people. The country faces run-away inflation and about 9 in 10 Zimbabweans are unemployed.

Mugabe faced a serious challenge from Morgan Tsvangirai, a trade unionist, in the 2002 presidential election. Mugabe won with 56 percent of the vote, but the campaign was characterized by widespread violence, and observers called the election flawed.

Mugabe is accused of widespread human rights abuses, autocratic rule and mismanagement of the economy. The United States and European Union have slapped travel bans on Mugabe and his associates, although he is still occasionally allowed to travel to attend international meetings.

The waiting goes on.

Directly support ICA field programs in Zimbabwe with a Working Gift


Responding to the Humanitarian Crisis
Marina Safarova

A crippling shortage of energy, combined with severe weather conditions, left a lot of people living in cold, dark homes in Tajikistan and other parts of Central Asia during this winter of 2008. Coupled with increasing prices for food and gasoline, it created a miserable winter for many.

Freezing temperatures forced people to wrap themselves in coats and scarves inside their offices and homes. Temperatures in Tajikistan and elsewhere in the Central Asia dropped below -20 Celsius in some areas. Heavy snowfalls and avalanches disrupted public transport in many cities and villages. Some bus drivers who were brave enough to go out on the icy roads charged passengers twice the price for tickets.

In February 2008, at least 80 people were stranded on a mountainous road in Tajikistan for nearly three weeks after an avalanche wiped out a section of highway linking the capital, Dushanbe, to the country’s north. At least three people died in the incident, while the others - children and women among them – waited for weeks to be rescued.

The situation was difficult for other Tajiks as well. Amid the bitter cold, the country once again faced severe shortages of electricity and gas. Tajikistan’s potential to produce electricity was estimated at over 300 billion kilowatt-hours per year – the greatest hydroelectric capacity in the region - but it depended on its neighbors to provide electricity during the winter. The country imports electricity from Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, but it was reduced to almost nothing due to power shortages in those two countries.

In lots of villages, people received one or two hours of electricity a day. Even in the capital of the country, Dushanbe, electric power was limited and residential areas had no electricity overnight. The only exceptions to the power limits were government offices, hospitals and industries in some other “strategically important” cites, such as Tursunzoda district, which has a large aluminum plant.

The centralized heating system in Dushanbe and other cities has been almost entirely paralyzed since the early 1990s, and residents in apartment blocks have no alternative means to heat their homes in the absence of energy from the city. This winter, people had to wear jackets and even overcoats when they went to bed. During very low temperatures, all family members gathered under one blanket to keep warm.

People in Tajikistan had to turn to “traditional methods” to heat their homes. There are now no trees left in some Tajik villages, where people cut them down to heat their homes and cook food. This practice even affected the silk industry, because entire plantations of mulberry trees were destroyed in some areas. Mulberry leaves are the only source of food for silkworms.

Additionally, growing fruit is the main source of income for many rural inhabitants. They have predicted a smaller harvest this year because of the energy shortages and severe weather.           

Electrical power blackouts plunged Soghd oblast into darkness too. People were struggling to survive without heating and electricity in their homes. According to the official messages, public health was worsening, as water supplies and sewage systems were significantly damaged over the winter.

The center of Khujand city was seized with terrible rumbles let out by generators. Only those offices that could afford to purchase generators were functioning. But in spite of the difficult situation, staff members of ICA Tajikistan continued working both in the office and in the field. Doing site visits to target districts, our field officers ran risks because of black ice on roads. They had to conduct focus groups and informational meetings with beneficiaries in frozen apartments. Lack of electricity almost paralyzed our activities in the office, which was very cold. No electricity made it impossible to use electric heating devices to keep the office warm. There was no opportunity to switch on computers. In order to type and print something, we had to visit internet cafés and stay in line for hours. It was impossible to keep in touch with our partners by email.

But people from other countries were not indifferent to the urgent situation in Tajikistan. The Tajik people deeply felt the sympathy and support extended from foreigners. One significant example is the support of ICAI, which intended to extend a helping hand to ICA Tajikistan. Our organization is happy and proud to be a member of this network. “A friend in need is a friend indeed.” Really, the intention of the global ICA network to support and help our organization is worthy of praise. Thanks to those noble people, we will be able to purchase a generator for our office and we are sure that the next winter we will continue our activity without any problems and delays.     


Food Security through Natural Resource Conservation
Yawo Gator Adufu

Togo’s 56,600 square kilometers and 6.1 million inhabitants have just come through 15 years of political, social and economical crisis, which continues to affect the lives of poor people in rural areas. 80% of the population lives in rural areas, and are afffected most severely.  According to a recent UNDP study, 72% of the population of Togo is poor and 57% is extremely poor. The malnutrition rate is high, with 25% of children under the age of 5 malnourished.

In several parts of Togo, people still do not have continuous access to sufficient food. The old techniques of farming and the charcoal production – major sources of family income and energy – have also led to deforestation and soil nutrient depletion. As a result, soil quality is diminished. The poor are significantly affected by corresponding decreases in crop production and livestock productivity, thereby reducing incomes derived from these products.

While the situation is dire, farmers are becoming aware of the larger circumstances and have started working in self-help groups. In order to address the underlying systems that perpetuate poverty, farmers have started setting up small groups of 8 to 10 persons. They recognise that, as individuals, they are voiceless, powerless and vulnerable. But by being together, they can develop strength. ICA Togo works with these groups in order to help them develop strategies that address interrelated needs in the areas of farming, husbandry and environment protection.

In addition, farmers are an important source of knowledge related to environmental management for food. ICA Togo therefore considers indigenous knowledge systems essential and vital. The introduction of husbandry in families serves as a significant tool for supporting people to diversify their sources of income. It also provides another component for soil improvement by using animal manure as a fertiliser.

Improvements in local living conditions start when people succeed to meet their food needs. When food security is realized, even the most vulnerable people can go forward by searching for appropriate solutions to any challenge they meet. We at ICA Togo believe that introducing lasting farming techniques, which are cheaper and more accessible to poor farmers, is an alternative way to ensure  food crop production without any damage to the environment.

Enabling people in remote areas to produce enough food with available resources, while bringing vulnerable households out of poverty, is a serious and important challenge. Experience shows that hungry people cannot think, and where there is no thinking, there is no development.


Voices of Young Leaders
Isabel de la Maza

The following comments were delivered by participants in ICA Chile’s recent Participative Leaders Training Programme for disabled and non-disabled youth in Valparaiso. You can read more about the programme here and here.

Natalia Aguilera, University student in Economics (not disabled)

Natalia Aguilerav

I am frequently at a lack of words when asked to describe my experience sharing with these wonderful disabled youth, and especially when I have to explain how this programme has changed the lives of many of them.

I’ve been asked many times why I take the time to participate in this programme and collaborate with this group, and after all these years I can now attest that getting to know disabled people has changed me personally.

Friendship flows naturally when they share their life experiences. You feel their sincerity and honesty. Such values are really hard to find in my day-to-day experience. After all these years, I’ve realized that they have given me so much more than what I’ve been able to give to them.

Even though my career has very little to do with the vulnerability of the disabled, I can definitely say that relating to them makes you a better person and makes you seriously aware and conscious of the world’s need for greater social responsibility towards them.

Romina Yanca, University student in Administration (disabled)

Romina Yanca

Participation in this programme has been a really great experience for me, because I have learned to achieve a consensus in a situation in which it was difficult to agree on anything, create a quick action plan, and so much more. This experience has enriched me intellectually in such a way that I feel able to face whatever situation the future may bring.

It is really helpful to know that this programme experience exists, for it is a great help to all, be they disabled or not, in order to face the difficulties one presents to oneself or those you have to face according to your personal reality, and that seem so devastating if you don’t have the tools to really overcome them.

Besides these tools, we have had the opportunity to become acquainted with other people who suffer from different handicaps, be they disabled or not, and thus be able to help each other. Because if one of the participants has difficulties in acquiring certain skills, others will come forward and help you with them, as you will help them in case of need. Thus, friendship flows and endures.

This programme is a marvellous way of learning skills and values. It gave me the opportunity to meet other people who, in spite of the problems they have to face on a daily basis, keep on smiling, and keep the strength to face this uncaring society – a society that unfortunately is far from willing to change as it should and consider the disabled as an active component. This is partly the fault of both sides of this spectrum, because if we did not hide in our homes or submit to others’ pitiful attitudes, and would simply go out and face bravely whatever challenges we have to face, things would be different. I’ve been able to realize that this PELP experience is an excellent beginning to achieve this change; it pushes us forward in order to be able to abandon our “safety bubble”, created by our parents so we would not be hurt. It has given us the tools to begin, heads up and right now to build our future.

Designed by Peter Ellins; edited by Sarah Miller.
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