Pact Global Award for ELRC Alumni, Dick Kachilonda
An alumni of the Rhodes Environmental Learning Research Centre PhD programme, Dr Dick Kachildonda, has recently received global recognition for his work in expansive learning, co-management and supporting changes in practices in the Malawi Fisheries context. The Pact global ‘Pursuit of Accomplishment’ award was offered to Dick for his work in the Malawi Pact Fisheries Integration of Society and Habitants (FISH) programme, which focusses on achieving sustainable lakeshore livelihoods by increasing resilience to climate change and improving biodiversity conservation through effective and sustainable fisheries co-management best practices.
The Pact project in Malawi is USAID funded and involves a consortium of six organizations (Pact as lead, Christian Aid Malawi, Coastal Resource Centre- University of Rhode Island in US, Community Initiative for Self-Reliance, Emmanuel International and Wildlife and Environmental Society of Malawi). Key stakeholders to the projects are Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development through Fisheries Department, Ministry of Environment and Climate Change through Environmental Affairs Department and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife. The project is covering South East and South West arms of Lake Malawi, Lake Malombe, Lake Chilwa and Lake Chiuta including a radius of 10 km from the shores to capture other natural resources management issues that affect biodiversity in the four water bodies.
Pact is an international development organization currently working in nearly 40 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and America. Its focus is creation of better future for all those who are challenged by poverty and marginalization and its motto is building local promises. Pact’s integrated approach focuses on systemic changes needed to improve people’s lives.
Dick Kachilonda started working for Pact in November 2014, soon after finishing his PhD, as Governance and Capacity Development Specialist in the project. Among others Dick coordinate policy issues, governance of local structures, linking the four district councils to FISH project activities, building capacity development plans for both project and government staff and bringing in traditional systems into the project activities to make sure FISH is addressing needs of the resource users.
Just like any other project FISH started with base line studies to understand and appreciate where the communities were and determine where and how to start the project. Among the baseline studies conducted were: Community Performance Index to determine the performance of local structures e.g. BVCs, Good Governance Barometer to determine the level of governance in fisheries co-management, Applied Political Economic Analysis to see who are the spoilers and champions in fisheries co-management and Organizational Network Analysis to see how local institutions network to share skills and experiences. Dick led the studies with support from Pact Headquarters in Washington and the results and recommendations from the studies provided better understanding of biodiversity and climate change issues in the fisheries sectors. Dick was also able to apply and work with the findings of his PhD which identified contradictions and expansive learning potential across inter-acting activity systems involved in the fisheries co-management sector in Malawi.
Pact organizes an annual global award activity to acknowledge some of the staff who have performed well in different categories. This year the categories were: Creativity Award, Pursuit of Accomplishment Award, Challenging Goals, Promises Award and Stephen Oleskey ‘Pactitude’ Award. The wards are highly competitive and the nomination and voting is done by Pact staff globally and people vote for individuals looking at their performance and contribution to the organization and the people he/she has been working with in a particular project. Nominated by his colleagues, in the awarding of the ‘Pursuit of accomplishment award’ the organization had this to say about Dick:
“Dick is truly and deeply committed to accomplishing outcomes not only in his role on the FISH project, but across all of Pact Malawi. He works many extra hours with a positive attitude and it is not uncommon to hear that Dick has traveled to all corners of Malawi in one week just to ensure he can be a part of all important activities.” • “His tireless commitment to project outcomes means that he is flexible and adaptive when providing support. He is one of those core members of the team who has the institutional, contextual, and relational knowledge to ensure that activities happen on time, on budget, and in a quality way.” • “Dick has become an all-rounder at Pact Malawi, supporting the FISH project in a multitude of ways. From liaising with the College of Fisheries on curriculum development for fisheries co-management, to organizing every aspect of the project launch, Dick is a pivotal part of the FISH project, and carries out his responsibilities in a very compassionate manner, going out of his way to accommodate incoming Pact staff, be it from IPA, PD or iCOMM.”
The Pursuit of Accomplishment Award recognizes those who routinely act in an unrelenting pursuit of accomplishment. They work deliberately and diligently to accomplish their desired outcome keeping in mind Pact’s value of how one accomplishes is as important as what is accomplished.
The award recognizes not only Dick’s pursuit of accomplishment in the context of Pact, but also his long term, tireless commitment to the improvement of livelihoods amongst fishing communities in Malawi. This was the subject of his first action research project which he undertook during his Advanced Certificate in Education qualification at Rhodes University. It was also the subject of his Masters study in fisheries college curriculum innovation in which he was able to show how local fishers knowledge ought to be considered in curriculum revision of the Malawi Fisheries College. It was also the subject of his PhD in which he developed expansive learning interventions across interacting activity systems of government, researchers, college lecturers and fishers themselves in mediation and improvement of fisheries co-management in Malawi.
Congratulations Dick, this global recognition of your commitment is well deserved!