Foresight in Africa food systems
”We need to put in prison some of the challenges we are yet to encounter in the future before we get there so that our food systems are not compromised” reechoed Dr Jim Woodhill, the first panelist from the Foresight4Food who presented during the FARA hosted Foresight webinar whose presentation laid a basic foundation focused on “Assessing the impacts, Learning & Information sharing to foster foresight and scenario analysis in response to uncertainties”. The webinar was organized by FARA in partnership with AFAAS and the sub-regional research organizations (i.e. ASARECA, CCARDESA and CORAF). The initiative was meant to facilitate the strengthening of foresight capacity in Africa under these organizations jointly implemented CAADP- XP4 project which funded by the EU and financed through IFAD. The launching of a Webinar series on Foresight is meant to foster collective intelligence gathering and responses to confronting current and future vulnerabilities in Africa’s food system, especially with the emergence of COVID-19 pandemic.
If there was ever a time that Africa needed to put in place foresight systems, it is now. According to (Foresight International, 2006) Foresight is “a university human capacity which allows people to think ahead and consider, model, create and respond to, future eventualities”. The advent of COVID-19 has opened many eyes to the realities of unforeseen eventualities.
The Africa Foresight Academy (AFA) will conduct a series of webinars in the coming weeks. The primary purpose of the webinars will be to;
- Offer support in using foresight and scenario processes to make sense of the COVID-19 AND GUIDE ADAPTATIIVE RESPONSES
- Provide a space for sharing observations, concerns, insights, and innovations
- Provide a set of basic frameworks and principles on foresight
- Introduce practical foresight and practical tools
- Facilitate and mentor a virtual foresight and scenario analysis
The second panelist, Dr Saher Hasnain, the Research and Community of Practice Coordinator at the Foresight4Food Initiative also presented at this 1st webinar which is part of a series of other planned future foresight webinars. She shared with participants on among others, the foresight thinking and the food system, scenarios, frameworks for understanding foresight and tools for conducting foresight.
CCARDESA ‘s Research and Advisory Services Thematic Coordinator Dr Podisi gave the closing remarks in which he thanked FARA for its relentless efforts of advocating for foresight which has now been recognized as a necessary tool by stakeholders in the research and development space who have now incorporated it into their SRO’s strategies. He mentioned how the CAADP-XP4 Programme partners, namely AFAAS, ASARECA, CCARDESA, CORAF and FARA the SROs have been entrusted with the responsibility of raising awareness and to build the capacity of the R&D actors in their respective regions on the use of foresight and that these organizations are supportive of the Africa Foresight Academy initiative.
Dr Podisi also shared how CCARDESA is already ahead and working tirelessly through the SADC climate risk analysis and Resilient Development Pathways Project in which CCARDESA and GIZ are working with ILRI/CCAFS to help use foresight for the local region’s context. This will collaboration entails running foresight activities at the regional level including training. These will be scheduled in liaison with FARA to minimise clashes and optimise the participation of stakeholders.
At the same meeting, Sabrina Chesterman, the Programme Manager for the Climate Risk analysis and Resilient Development Pathways project was on hand to mention how CCARDESA through its GIZ-ACCRA Programme was in the process of starting the virtual foresight training for climate-resilient agricultural development targeted at various professionals, including those from extension and the media from Southern Africa. CCARDESA, therefore, extends invitation interested individuals to register here: bit.ly/SADC_reg for the forthcoming free training webinars on Foresight in climate change resilience that will be hosted by the climate Risk analysis and Resilient Development Pathways project every Wednesday at 2-4 pm between 17 June and 22 July 2020.
The words of Winston Churchill that “don’t waste a crisis” couldn’t be better applicable now than before because they implore nations to put in place radical changes that will ensure a sound, secure food system that will withstand any crisis ahead. COVID-19 has exposed the gaps that exist, and that countries should not neglect to stand up to use foresight to prepare against future crisis.