1. Social workers have been involved in peace building and conflict resolution initiatives at all levels. Reconciliation between spouses, between teachers and students, between communities and between citizens and governing institutions. There are many success stories and good practices which can be shared, transferred and up scaled elsewhere. Peace building initiatives in Sudan, conflict resolution efforts through the Gacaca community ‘courts’ in Rwanda, community harmonization in Uganda and Kenya are some of the examples, just to mention a few. The processes, tools and mechanisms used in achieving this need to be documented for the purposes of sharing.
Do you have practical cases and experiences in peace building and conflict resolutions which we can share?.Do you have ideas on how we can develop tools and systems to monitor ,mitigate and resolve conflicts at various levels?.
2. Social workers in Africa have a lot of successful stories to tell pertaining to their works, the individuals and communities they work with. Some communities have innovatively devised new Home Based Care practices in HIV/AIDS management, others have set up their own mechanisms to monitor, mitigate and resolve conflicts while others have their own systems to deal with emerging children problems in the light of the changing African family. Do you have some experiences or practices to share? Can you share some unique skills and experiences that you feel are within your area of work/country and which can be shared with other communities elsewhere?
3. Social work as a profession in many African countries has no legal mechanism to support it. Devising systems to support the profession may require different processes depending on each country, but often the process is the same and so is the end product – a legal document to support, and regulate the practice. In order to have this legal recognition in your country , what information do you need to collate? How do you build-up your case in a form of a write-up? What does the entire process entail in terms of time, personnel and resources? What other parties will you need in the completion of this process?
4. The conference identified existence of a fragmented response to HIV/AIDS management in many countries. The linkage between some key contributing factors such as food security, bio-diversity, adequate shelter, ethics, human rights, culture and religious briefs have not fully been addressed and therefore prohibit successful achievement of the set goals. What is the extent of this fragmentation in your area of operation ?. Can you document some of the existing gaps in relation to your sector/country (or area of practice)?
5. Social workers have developed a training manual to facilitate the grounding and dimisfying of the CRC. In addition, there is the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the child and also the various laws now aimed at the protection of the child. Despite this, various forms of child abuse practices are on the increase in many parts of Africa. What are the key emerging gaps and competing interests in the protection of the child today? What new skills, information and knowledge do we require to bridge the existing gaps in the implementation of CRC at community, country and inter-country levels ?.
6. Availability and accessibility of sufficient affordable and quality food is a key indicator of reduced poverty levels. What is the role of social workers in the current food security debate? What are the concerns in food pricing, storage, distribution, relief supplies, subsidies, nutritional values, ethical and human rights issues, land tenure systems, patents and the various policies affecting food production in general?
7. Local Authorities are major employers of social workers, they have regular revenue and infrastructure to deliver social work services. However, the conference noted with concern that some local authorities designated the delivery of social work services to employees who were not qualified. In this regard we need to collect more information to ascertain this. In your area of operation or in your country do social workers within the local authorities have job descriptions, what is their level of training? Do they have job security and elaborate system of remuneration? What is the level of ethical awareness in the delivery of services and how are workers supervised? Is there a system of upgrading their skills or training opportunities? Can you suggest ways by which we can develop an exchange and skills development programme for social workers within the local authorities? What are the major social work concerns within the African local authorities? .Can you document any known good practices within the local authorities which we can build on or even any known bad practices which we can improve on ?.
8. Training opportunities are limited and training institutions are inadequate. In several countries there are no national social work training institutions and where training opportunities exist, it is not regulated, not coordinated and most of the testimonials offered are not validated. Several questions arise:
i) Can you identify social work training requirements in your area/country? How do you classify this in terms of the various levels of development? Universities, middle level institutions and also the specific skills, knowledge and information expected to filter down to the community level operators ?. Can you briefly outline the extent of these training requirements? Do we need skills/knowledge which is issue specific,target specific, country specific or even region specific? How could such training or courses/workshops be managed?
ii) How do we add value to the current training approaches/opportunities for the interns and students in field placements, in syllabus exchange, etc? What are the opportunities regionally and globally? What are the required resources?
iii) In terms of the on-going regional and sub-regional integration and cooperation, what is the role of social workers? What does this mean to the profession, to the youth and to the vulnerable groups? How can social workers engage in this debate at country, sub-region and regional level? What are the opportunities for our youth? What skills/experiences can we share across the borders? (small scale use of wetlands in Rwanda by youthful farmers, peace resolution skills, HIV/AIDS skills and kitchen gardens and medicinal herbs in Uganda, communal farming and agro-forestry in Tanzania, jua kali and small scale traders in Kenya, water catchment and protection of water sources in Burundi and Congo DRC have been suggested as some of the skills and experiences which can be upscaled and transferred) Do you have other suggestions?