Development Practitioners Convention 2016

 

Development Practitioners Network (DPN) is proud to be at the centre of promoting efficient and effective development work in Zimbabwe.

The 13th of October 2016 marked the beginning of a special journey in Zimbabwe’s development fraternity as we hosted our convention themed ‘Networking for Development’ in Eastlea. The purpose of the Convention was mainly to cement the network of key players in development work in Zimbabwe by creating a platform to share experiences, best practices and challenges in the current state of development.

As DPN Programs Manager, Mr Marufu, facilitated introductions and opening remarks, he mentioned one of the benefits of the Convention as the platform to promote interaction and enhance cooperation amongst key players in development work through synergy creation and partnerships. “Networking is important because it strengthens relationships, provides a platform for acquiring fresh ideas and increases the capacity to be innovative,” Mr Marufu said.

Invitees included development practitioners, implementing organisations, government ministries, funding partners, tertiary institutions offering development studies, students who are studying development work, corporates and high schools. Our esteemed guest speaker was the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare who was represented by the Acting Deputy Director of the Disability Rehabilitation Section, Mr J. Banda. Other speakers, who also touched on key development issues, included the Chief Occupational Safety and Health Rehabilitation Centre Officer from National Social Security Authority – Dr B. Nyereyegona and Mr Mudzingwa – Director of The AIDS Services Institute.

Convention Activities

Presentations

The first presenter was Dr B. Nyereyegona from the National Social Security Association who presented on The State of Occupational Health and Safety (OSH) Standards for Development Practitioners in Zimbabwe. She highlighted that development practitioners are a unique group of people with unique occupational hazards and usually neglect OSH as the majority associates these hazards with blue collar jobs only. She therefore emphasised the need to ensure development practitioners are aware of the nature of risks they face in their working environments and put in place necessary systems to guarantee their protection. In this regard, Dr P. Shereni from National Social Security Authority (NSSA) followed with a presentation that educated the symposium on several ways in which the development sector could ensure OSH standards are met and maintained. He explained the use of their social security schemes offered by NSSA namely the Pensions and Other Benefits Scheme (POBS) and Accident Prevention and Worker’s Compensation Scheme (APWCS) respectively. In a bid to explore health related aspects affecting development workers, the Director of The AIDS Service Institute, Mr Mudzingwa, gave a sound presentation on Cancer and Development: The Advances in Cancer Treatment using Traditional Medicines. This was done to improve understanding of the dimensions of impact of this disease to the development of the country. He therefore underlined the importance of considering traditional medicines as a way of curbing the disease as they have a 60% approved success rate as opposed to scientific methods with a 2% success rate up to date.

Key Note Address

Our keynote address was delivered by Mr J. Banda, Acting Deputy Director of the Disability Rehabilitation Section on The Policy Framework: Guiding Operations of NGOs in Zimbabwe. The message was derived from the need to provide crucial information to development practitioners with regards to standards of compliance and operations of NGOs, as it contributes to the knowledge and growth of their organisations. Mr Banda explained the regulations governing civil organisations and corporates undertaking CSR, and urged them to acquaint themselves with their constitutional obligations. He therefore hailed their work as units complementing government efforts by existing as arenas outside families and the state, seeking to advance common interests

Debate Session

DPN values students as an information source which provides intelligent input to current challenges in tertiary institutions and society. In an effort to develop structures to support young people, it is ideal to complement their ideas as well. Therefore, during the Convention, an institution based debate session on Sexual Reproductive Health was incorporated as sexuality remains a component affecting their performance. Bindura University of Science Education and Lupane State University both clashed in a heated argument where the latter emerged as the winner. In the subsequent Convention and others to follow, we have set up a structure involving other institutions who were left out in this activity, where preliminary debate rounds will be conducted prior to the main event.

Awards Ceremony

Development Practitioners Network awarded different key personnel, organisations and individuals who had displayed outstanding commitment in implementing development related projects, members of the network and Convention participants. These esteemed awards were extended to our first project partner, The Zimbabwe Red Cross Society, our first partner organisation, The AIDS Service Institute, Lupane State University for emerging as the debate winner, our first student and full members Chiedza Muchena and Memory Jani respectively, organisations, academic institutions and participants who were present.

Exhibitions

Exhibitions gave development practitioners the opportunity to become visible, raise their profiles and create goodwill.

Career Guidance Session

Career guidance is one of DPN’s components laced within the Catch Them Young training package aiming to equip young learners with adequate knowledge concerning their future career plans. This includes investigating the world of work in relation to options and personal interests, understanding relationship between personal qualities and education and developing positive attitudes towards learning as a whole. During the Convention, high school participants were engaged in a career guidance session to help ignite their career development. Moving forward, DPN will extend invites to marginalised high schools in rural areas and other peripheries to allow all students in the country to partake.

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