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By: Sophia Kasubi
Published: 2022-03-02

When COVID pandemic erupted in many parts of the world the end of 2019 and early 2020; a number of events that involved meetings of development workers who aimed at discussing issues for the development of people they serve were cancelled. ECHO East Africa had to suspend the Biennial Symposium on Sustainable Agriculture and Appropriate technologies that was to be held in February, 2020. Last year September 28th through 30th, 2021 ECHO East Africa organized and held a Symposium on Sustainable Agriculture and Appropriate Technologies through online means (virtual event) so as to enable development workers to resume in their routine ways of learning, discussing and sharing best practices of sustainable agriculture and appropriate technologies despite the outcomes posed by COVID 19; since community development matters needed to be solved despite all other issues. 

EAN8_titleECHO East Africa’s Biennial Symposium on Sustainable Agriculture and Appropriate Technologies connects individuals and organizations who seek to share their knowledge and best practices in the following areas:

  • hunger, and physical hardship by engaging farmers more effectively to adapt their farming systems
  • to respond to climate change and declining yields in Africa with sustainable options which improve the environment, regenerate soils and water catchments, recycle resources, and mitigate the effects of extreme weather events
  • to combine a wide range of approaches holistically to enhance the resilience of the vulnerable and to care for the earth
  • to have a relevant response to the current COVID 19 pandemic
  • to promote continued learning and sharing through networks

The ECHO East Africa’s Biennial Symposium provides a network and training opportunity for those involved in improving nutrition, alleviating hunger and poverty in East Africa. 
The only huge difference between the normal symposium and virtual symposium is people cannot meet face-to-face due to travel restrictions imposed by many countries in order to stop or reduce the impact of the pandemic. Each activity of the symposium is conducted through online means i.e. presentation and meeting the speaker during the Questions & Answers session.

The Biennial symposium on Sustainable Agriculture and Appropriate Technologies (virtual) held on 28th through 30th September was attended by; 

A total of 24 speakers including six ECHO East Africa team members who gave presentations divided among Plenaries, Lightning Talks, and Breakout ‘Meet the Speaker’ sessions. 

Although 303 registered for the event, it is estimated that more than 350 participants attended through groups at different NGO venues.

The symposium was the best-attended event organized by ECHO East Africa to date. Forums continue online through the Whova app which will enable feedback to continue to be generated over the next six months. 

Statistics of Attendees  
App downloads 259
Messages sent private + community 2233
Agenda set-ups 95
Meets-ups 7
Attendees 307
Attendee with email 306
Photos 256
Community board topic posts 57

Among many plenary and breakout sessions were:

  • Mueni Odeozor, Canadian Foodgrains Bank - Scaling up CA in Ethiopia: how CA programming and advocacy influenced Ethiopian government policy
  • Steve Lutz, World Renew - Learnings from holistic, integrated CA in Kenya
  • Neil Rowe-Miller, Tearfund, Technologies and Extension Strategies for Scale-up of “CA-Plus”
  • Sophia Kasubi, Faith Juma, ECHO - Promoting nutrition with perennial vegetables
  • Sabine Nkusi, Uwezo Lele, Tearfund - Transforming Masculinity, a gender transformation approach to SGBV prevention
  • Janet Maro, Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania - transforming the farming system in Tanzania
  • Lilian Zheke, Tearfund - Aggregated Marketing of Grain Crops
  • Ayesiga Buberwa, Isle de la Paix - Revitalization of Farmer-managed seed systems
  • Nate Flood, ECHO - Using ECHO APP and ECHOcommunity
  • Erwin Kinsey, ECHO - Remembering some principles of Agroforestry, soil and water conservation
  • Harold Msanya, ECHO - Promoting the Maresha direct seeder for small-scale CA mechanization
  • Elliot Kinsey, KUZA Initiatives - Focused simple solutions that last where the smallest effort yields the biggest result and the solution sticks.

Overall; the evaluations of the symposium from different participants showed a high satisfaction rate of participants towards the symposium since they were able to learn, discuss and share best practices of appropriate technologies and network.

Click here to view ECHO East Africa resources from past symposia!