Monday, 27 May 2013
Alumni from different countries have approached the AAPF with a similar request: how can the AAPF further support us? The AAPF answered back with another question: what do you suggest and how will you make sure that your proposals are inclusive and welcomed by other alumni?
Under the alumni coordinator Ana Santos’ guidance, the AAPF is supporting alumni to organise themselves and develop programs that they want. This includes identifying leaders with a mandate from their peers and making the commitment to translate alumni’s aspirations into concrete action.
Mozambique has around 220 M4D alumni, the largest in-country alumni group. These alumni have participated in various AusAID M4D activities, and they come from a broad range of ministries and institutions.
Given the interest of Mozambican alumni to establish a local M4D interest group, the AAPF suggested the alumni follow a series of steps with two objectives. One was to support participants to set up their own network. The other was to assess the level of alumni’s interest in taking leadership and in being an equal partner in M4D programs that seek to develop follow-on support.
Ana suggested that the alumni should elect a national coordinator. The national coordinator would lead the group and liaise directly with the AAPF and other M4D programs. They would assemble a working team to develop a strategy and work plan for the national alumni group, and they would set up a consultation process with members.
Alas, the task of electing a national coordinator turned out to be challenging. The final result appears to be disappointing – only 25 votes were cast. Voting rules stipulated that a minimum of 50 votes to ensure the legitimacy of the elected representative and to validate the voting process. But we learned valuable lessons in the process:
1. The voting process acts as a screening procedure to identify alumni who are deeply engaged in developing follow-on support for other alumni.
2. Six alumni volunteered for the position of national coordinator; there are at least six alumni willing to assume significant leadership roles.
3. Other alumni showed leadership by making suggestions on how to improve the voting process and encouraging alumni to vote.
4. One candidate – the individual who won the most votes – prepared an ‘electoral manifesto’; a sign that alumni are not shy in thinking about their needs.
While the election process did not produce the intended result, it demonstrated that Mozambique has a group of alumni with leadership aspirations who are willing to instigate networking activities. The AAPF will encourage these alumni to expand their links with other alumni in Mozambique and throughout Africa.
Ana will also work with other countries to establish local alumni groups and arrange activities that benefit their M4D colleagues.