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A COLLECTION OF EXPERIENCES
This site collects my past articles. It also lays out a bit of background as to why a reader might think me qualified to have an opinion. The majority of the articles, and my other writing is about African Development and Conservation. As I pointed out in the introduction I have gone about developing my perspective on these issues in what you might call a roundabout manner, or as I call it elsewhere, via an experiencial experiment. Whereas “expert opinion” often originates in academia, think tanks, business associations, aid agencies or the press, I argue that learning things first hand is just as valid. The point of view expressed here comes from experience on the ground and long and careful consideration rather than formal research. I propose such experience can make as needed a contribution as the other more traditional perspectives mentioned above. Of course everyone has experience so it’s probably best to explain more specifically what I mean.
In 1984 I crossed the Sahel from Khartoum to the CAR riding on the top on an onion truck and sleeping under the undercarriage during stops. The trip took seventeen days passing through Western Sudan just south of Darfur during the Sahel drought of that difficult year.
In Bangui I bought a one man pirogue (dugout) and paddled 800km down the Ubangi to its junction with the Congo. The trip commenced with three other boats but after some time the little fleet broke up and ten days out of thirty were alone in the canoe passing down river.
There was no telephone directory or commercial index in Kinshasa in the early eighties. I researched and published two editions of The Repertoire Kinois- a sort of yellow pages - whose goal was to include all the businesses in Kinshasa that had phones. I also published an A-Z map guide.
I ran three coffee “campaigns”, two in Bas Congo and one in Equateur. This was my start to working with small growers and rural market chains. The Zairian regulation restricted the buying period and buyers adopted a land rush strategy to get maximum volumes.
I organized and carried out a forestry survey in a six hundred square mile forest block outside of Lisala in Equateur to define the concession’s resources and viability. This report defined the density per species in secondary, primary and riverine portions of the forest.
Worked with Bob Caputo on the National Geographic film for Nat Geo Explorers Zaire River Journey which takes place on the River Boat Colonel Ebeya as it journeys up the Congo from Kinshasa to Kisangani.
I organized the logistics and accompanied a National Geographic team of Eugene Linden and Frans Lantig who toured Pygmy Chimpanzee study sites in the central Basin including Takayoshi Kano at Wamba and the Duke University team of Richard Malenky and Nancy Thompson-Handler at Lomako Forest.
I traveled to the Lomako again to develop my own Eco Tourism project. This included a trip by pirogue up river, some time at the research site, time alone at the proposed tourist camp and travel further up the Lomako past Kitiwali settlements to the abandoned Leopold era trading post.
I contracted to USAID, the DOD and DIA during the evacuation of 1991 and the subsequent security situation in Kinshasa. This was logistical work connected with the support of evacuated Americans utilizing security related arrangements already on the ground.
I revisited the Lomako Forest in 1995 with a Duke University team to investigate reopening the research site after heightened security concerns from the military mutinies. After establishing the camp performed an extended anti poaching circuit in search of Bonobo trade.
Was contracted to travel to Tanzania to end an ostrich trafficking operation based outside of Arusha. The perpetrators had defrauded the investors into believing the business plan was legal but they were actually sorcing the birds directly from the bush.
Negotiated shareholder position to recover the 1500ha farm in Northern Tanzania from receivership Managed asset recovery on the part of a creditor trust in the US to take control of shares and assets of company despite disagreement without the necessity of court action.
Wrote-up, pitched and closed with suppliers shareholders, partners and finance on Fresh Produce Export Business to produce, pack and fly fresh beans, mangetout, sugar snap and baby corn to the UK to supermarkets TESCOs and Sainsbury’s
Settled a 22 year land dispute in which 10 eviction orders had been issued and 3 land settlement deals agreed to through preparing a compromise plan and bringing it to all local, regional and national stakeholders including three Ministers and three MPs for consensus before action.
Developed, prepared and proposed a Water User Group to self regulate distribution of water for irrigation on the Nduruma River drawing water from Mt Meru. Negotiated on behalf of the same with regard to the rights of Agriculture and residential water requirements.
Set up an innovative small holder model to bring marker capacity and finance to small grower groups selling fresh produce for high end market and secured three set of Aid support for their benefit.
Developed and managed a full set of procedures for compliance with two sets of EU supermarket procedures including commercial & small growers operational manuals, packing, process flow, HACCP & Food Safety Manuals and Ethical, Environmental and CSR manuals.
Founding Member and long time Secretary General of the Tanzania Horticulture Association a business Association involved in advocacy and development. Primary responsibilities for Strategy and Aid Relations. During this time TAHA grew from $40,000 to multiple +$1m USD projects.
Chaired the Select Committee to create the Horticulture Development Committee of Tanzania and sat on the resulting executive. HODECT is a PPP Council on which the public and private sector (and civil society) participate with a view to coordinating development of the subsector.
Additional Public Private service on the Partnership Committee Tanzanian World Symposium on Sustainable Development Market Access project, The Tanzania National Business Council Working Group for a new agricultural policy and the Private Sector Forum platforms.
As a matter of course during the activities above, prepared, on a volunteer or consulting basis, two national strategies, four institutional NGO Strategies, fifteen private enterprises’ business plans and numerous concept notes for soliciting grant and Aid Funding.
Participated in three Tanzanian development and trade missions to Germany, Holland and the United States to present and discuss Tanzania’s progress in Agricultural Development and its agricultural sector as an investment opportunity for international capital.
Participated and helped set up the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation’s (TPSF) Private Sector Anti Poaching Initiative (PSAPI) which is a stakeholder arraignment for various sectors to better coordinate their strategies to support biodiversity which is seen as a nation-wide multi sectoral issue.
Organized and carried out three UAV anti poaching trials necessitating authorization and agreement from the Ministry, the protected area authority, the military and the Civil Aviation Authority. The aircraft and suppliers where from Europe and the US. The UAV (plus surveillance sensors) varied from ±$40,000 to ±$250,000 in value.
Prepared distributed and discussed reports on the three trials and developed a prototype UAV Anti Poaching Surveillance Operational plan which fused the operational, intelligence, Institutional and resource aspects of the plan.
In addition to the above African experience, work and study some other travels could be included.
Studied science in Junior College then History two years at McGill University and one at University College London. History has stayed a continuing interest but an academic and objective environment ended then replaced by learning on the way.
Before, during and after university sports was a passion which included Canadian football, skiing, track and field but most loved rugby. You can arrive unexpected in any Rugby playing country and have a game that week. Peaked at Eastern Canada vs. England marking Winterbottom.
Across South East Asia and South Asia down the Me Kok River and up the Langtang valley. Saw the Red Fort and the Taj in its perfection. Third class trains and riding on the roof of the bus across India. Three times into the forest in three countries looking for Tiger.
Across Afghanistan to Iran but taking time off to visit Bamiyan in the central provinces and ride an Afghan pony across the steppe a few miles in the path of the Great Khan and perched a few moments on the head of the famous Buddha some twenty four years before it was destroyed.
At different times and various places work included. Salmon boat on the pacific coast, underground mine in Tasmania, digging graves, construction and renovation, crewing sailboats in the Pacific Mediterranean and Atlantic, operative in Quebec language politics.
After working in the Congo into the early nineties returned to Canada and there remet Judy McIntosh who has been a partner through all the Tanzanian episodes above. Though having spent 27 of the last 30 years in Africa maintain a strong link to Family in Canada and the States.The above list touches briefly on a long series of episodes but doesn’t give much of the character or lesson of each. The preponderance were interesting, fascinating or empowering. But there was another category because some of these, where quite exciting or even dangerous. That experiencial stock is my perspective for looking at current events and the raw material for short stories and special projects.