Alastair Simmons, N2Africa’s Communication, Knowledge and Project Management Officer and currently the acting Project Coordinator, comments on the project moving forward

Display start
Display end
Newsletter #
Newsletter item #
News homepage item #

Advice given to someone undertaking a lengthy writing task. Always end one session by writing the points you will begin with next time. When the ideas are flowing but you have to stop to do something else, note down what you will do first next time, so you can easily recall what you intended, check it and get back into completing the task more quickly.

It is good advice. Not least because a large project like N2Africa, involves many people continuously creating, undertaking and exchanging multiple tasks. Of necessity, some of these tasks must stop, to allow others to start, but… and here’s the catch, most must be completed for our success.

It is challenging. Made more so because between tasks stopping and starting up again, the world never stands still, things change, people come and go.

As a ‘development to research project’, N2Africa stands for change and opportunity. Over its four-year lifetime, its purpose is to understand how to transform the lives of thousands of smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa.

It is perhaps not surprising then that on this journey, we will require a cycle of different capabilities and structures for the leadership, management and coordination of the project to meet both the changing demands and our emerging understanding.

Group photo (click here for a larger version) of the Steering Committee and Leadership Team meeting of N2Africa in Nairobi in May 2012

The new project coordinator Jeroen Huising

In September, we welcome Jeroen Huising to the new role of Project Coordinator, he writes,

"I am absolutely delighted to take up the position of the N2Africa coordinator because N2Africa is one of those projects that has the potential to deliver on the promises to reach hundreds of thousands of farmers and generate an impact on the livelihoods of these farmer’s households. I believe I have something to contribute to the project, having lead several larger projects in the past, the ‘conservation and sustainable management of below-ground biodiversity’ project probably being the most relevant."

Jeroen is a graduate of Wageningen University with a major in tropical soil science and a second major in development economics and international affairs. His PhD research was very much about geo-informatics and ways in which GIS and remote sensing can be used in monitoring land use changes in a structured and systematic manner. He is sensitive to the processes involved in observation and data recording, data analyses and interpretation.

I am looking forward very much to working with Jeroen. Not least because of his undoubted capacity to support two of three of the things that I wrote down at the close of our recent Leadership and Steering committee meeting in Nairobi in May, in preparation for the opening of the next one in October.

I noted that in October, we need ‘to check on the work of M & E, taking account of partner engagement and provision’. I noted too, that we must ensure the veracity, delivery and consistency, of the field data from research, D & D and M & E, so that it can feed into the ‘higher level’ more ‘holistic’ R & D; we need to be more reflective and to initiate new activities in different countries to test approaches to D & D and M & E’.

I know that we will have Jeroen’s help with these challenges and that you will continue to support me in making certain that all the regular and final narratives of the project are drawn together and reported, concluded and promulgated in a timely fashion. The technical outputs, finances, risks & issues and day-to-day chase ups are tasks that will continue stop and start amid all else: but they are all ‘to do’ and (most) must be completed for our success!

Alastair Simmons