Welcome as the new consortium coordinator of We are Able! Could you briefly introduce yourself?
In October, I started as the consortium coordinator of We are Able! I have worked for the Dutch NGO Cordaid, where I coordinated a number of advocacy trajectories, mostly on food and agriculture, migration and refugees. Prior to that I have also done advocacy at EU level, working for NGO networks, and also at the level of the United Nations.
What spoke to you about the project to take this step to become consortium coordinator?
As civil society organizations, we very much promoted the concept of leaving no one behind, starting with the most vulnerable people, including people with disabilities. The Sustainable Development Goals that were adopted by the United Nations in 2015 eventually put the most vulnerable groups first. We are Able! focuses on access to essential services, food and land for persons with disabilities in Africa. Over the years, I gained experience in advocacy coordination in networks, in coalitions and alliances. For example, in Cordaid I coordinated for three years an advocacy consortium with twelve African partners, focusing on agriculture and food security policies. Working with African partners in joint advocacy work is close to my heart, so I decided to apply for this interesting position.
Your introduction to the project and all the members was during the Regional Learning Event. How do you look back on the conference in Burundi?
It was an initiative of the Knowledge Management Working Group with the aim to learn from the first years of implementation: what challenges occurred, how countries could learn from each other and how could lessons learnt inform future planning. It was a wonderful induction for me. It helped me to not only get to know the participants, but also the thematic issues and the project progress – including the main challenges – all of that in just a weeks’ time.
What was the first action point on your agenda for We are Able?
My first action point was related to the planning and review process. In Bujumbura, we discussed the process of planning, monitoring and evaluation and the meeting agreed on a process for developing the 2023 annual plan. Based on the draft annual plans of each of the six countries we are currently developing the consortium annual plan to be submitted to our back donor, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The year is almost over and soon the 2023 annual plan will soon be finalized. What are you looking forward to?
An important milestone for next year will be the midterm review. By July 2023 we will be halfway implementation already. That is the time to review were we are in terms of activities and spending, but also whether we are on track in the process of reaching the project results. Our next meeting will be in Ethiopia in July next year, informed by the midterm review report by an external consultant. That meeting will allow for sharing and learning, and for planning for the second half of the project.