Occasionally, I read the Yellow Monday online to see what is happening at IDS, nee publications, research in the pipeline and who is hiring where? It is always refreshing as it keeps me almost plugged into current events at IDS. It gives me the opportunity to share with other people especially alumni I meet once in a while. In one of my routine snowballing through the Yellow Monday, I got to know that IDS Fellow Patta Scott-Villiers was in Kampala from 1st to 12th June.
Of recent I have been talking with a few of the alumni in Uganda about when to have an event. We are about twenty or so alumni in Uganda, including a cabinet minister, two professors and a big number in NGOs and development agencies. A few emails with the alumni and Patta gracefully agreed to a quickly organised dinner. We actually plucked Patta from the busy essay marking she was doing! About three of the alumni turned up and it was a good dinner over drinks and Chinese cuisine in Kampala.
Dinner chat was good, oscillating from new leadership at IDS to post 2015 development agenda and Patta’s experiences living with a rural household in Uganda for a week. While trying to evade the normal development cliché discussions, what was outstanding was the issue of access to information. It cuts across the whole spectrum of development that access to information will be as crucial to national development macro goals as it will be for small community level development outcomes. Patta’s week with family in rural South Western Uganda exposed the fact that households on community level in numerous instances did not have the right information or any information of specific interventions such as insurance. And for young professionals, most of the information needed, such as on study opportunities and funding is not available in mainstream channels such as government departments. Of course debates on including access to information as one of the goals for post 2015 development agenda remain high. And as development professionals, we continue to follow and look forward to the benefits to come.
A number of alumni sent in their apologies for not making it but we agreed to have a better organised and certainly better attended alumni event so soon. It was a wonderful evening with Patta and really good IDS alumni catch up in Kampala! Looking forward to the next one!