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1 February 2000 The African Node of the Mountain Forum is Born: Report on a Meeting at ICRAF, Nairobi, 24–26 August 1999
Kwesi Atta-Krah
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The Mountain Forum (MF) is an innovative and integrative network involving individuals and diverse governmental, nongovernmental, and private organizations working for or interested in mountain cultures, environment, and sustainable development. The MF was established in 1995 as a global network to foster mutual support and exchange of ideas, experiences, and information and to promote mountain development issues through advocacy and awareness building. The operations of the MF are organized through the activities of a central global node and a number of regional nodes. The global node is based at The Mountain Institute (TMI) in West Virginia, USA, while the regional nodes are based in the major mountain regions of the world. Until recently, the only regional nodes that had been formed were the Asia-Pacific Node, the Latin American Node, and the European Node. Ongoing efforts have been made to form nodes for the North American and African regions.

The process of forming the African Node

The first event aimed at the formation of the African Node was the African Intergovernmental Consultation on Sustainable Mountain Development, which was held at International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in June 1996. The consultation was organized by the FAO in its role as task manager for Chapter 13 of Agenda 21 and was cosponsored by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the ILRI, and the African Mountains Association (AMA). It was attended by representatives of various countries from the mountain regions of Africa. This consultation made a number of specific recommendations in support of sustainable mountain development and called for the creation of an African information network devoted to this theme.

In November 1997, the Mountain Forum's Interim Facilitating Committee meeting in Kathmandu, Nepal, renewed the call for the establishment of an African Node in the Mountain Forum in order to enhance advocacy and information exchange among African mountain regions as well as with other mountain regions of the world. African participants at this meeting resolved to move forward on this issue. The FAO and the Global Node of the Mountain Forum, together with ICRAF and ILRI, were given the responsibility of facilitating the formation of this node.

Under the leadership of FAO, an inaugural meeting for the creation of the African Node of the MF was held 24 August 1999–26 August 1999, hosted by ICRAF at its headquarters in Nairobi. The meeting was attended by 25 participants, with country representations coming from Guinea, Kenya, Uganda, and Lesotho. South Africa and Cameroon sent written reports. A number of international governmental and nongovernmental organizations including FAO, ICRAF, ILRI, The Mountain Institute, UNEP, the Environment Liaison Center International (ELCI), the African Academy of Sciences, AMA, IDRC, SDC, and USAID also attended the meeting.

The meeting essentially organized its work around the following three issues:

  1. Sharing of information relating to implementation of the mountain agenda at the international and regional levels in relation to Chapter 13 of Agenda 21;

  2. Discussion and decision on establishment of an African Mountain Networking Forum; and

  3. Introduction and discussions on the International Year of Mountains (2002), and the role of the African Node in this event.

A node is born

The meeting unanimously endorsed the creation of the African Node of the Mountain Forum (ANMF) and went on to formulate aims and an operational structure for the node.

The aim of the African Node is to promote awareness and support for sustainable development of African mountain communities and environments. This will be done through promotion of partnerships and cooperation among communities and other stakeholders and also through advocacy and development and exchange of information about sustainable mountain development on the continent.

ICRAF was asked and agreed to host the African Node for an initial 2-year establishment period. A management committee (task force) for the development and implementation of the programs of the node during the first 2-year phase was constituted. This committee consists of Dr Kwesi Atta-Krah (ICRAF), Dr Francis Gichuki (Nairobi University/African Mountain Association), Dr Mohamed Saleem (ILRI), and Dr Barbara Gemmill (Environment Liaison Center International). A full steering committee will be constituted at a later date to provide management and policy guidance to the African Node.

The African Node will be affiliated with the Global Mountain Forum and will establish links with other regional nodes of the MF. The node will also be affiliated with the FAO in its capacity as task manager for Chapter 13 of Agenda 21. Finally, the African Node will seek linkages with the OAU and its scientific and development organizations as well as with other bodies dealing with sustainable mountain development.

Proposal for first phase of the African Node of Mountain Forum

A proposal for funding and operation of the ANMF has been developed for the first 4-year phase, 2000–2003. The planned outputs for this phase include the following:

  1. Establishment of an African Node secretariat and a mechanism for networking;

  2. Membership and partnership development and enhancement of mutual support;

  3. Synthesis and analysis of information and experiences with regard to sustainable mountain development. This will lead to identification of gaps and commissioning of strategic studies for filling these gaps;

  4. Establishment of mechanisms for information sharing and advocacy development.

The proposal also provides for annual conferences to be organized by the ANMF in support of information sharing, awareness promotion, and advocacy. The conferences planned are as follows:

  1. September 2000: ANMF stakeholders meeting for the formal inauguration of the African Node and development of implementation plans;

  2. March 2001: Mountain communities workshops facilitated in various mountain regions;

  3. September 2002: Intergovernmental conference on sustainable mountain development. This will be organized in the context of the International Year of Mountains;

  4. September 2003: Scientific conference on sustainable mountain development to share information on progress in research and development and identify future directions.

This proposal is being submitted to the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and other donors for funding.

It is believed that the emergence of the African Node of the Mountain Forum will help create an effective mechanism for networking on mountain issues among stakeholders in Africa and that this will contribute to the development of enhanced support for and awareness of sustainable mountain development on the continent.

Kwesi Atta-Krah "The African Node of the Mountain Forum is Born: Report on a Meeting at ICRAF, Nairobi, 24–26 August 1999," Mountain Research and Development 20(1), 96-97, (1 February 2000).[0096:TANOTM]2.0.CO;2
Published: 1 February 2000
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