You're never alone with ALIN
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CTA. 1999. You're never alone with ALIN. Spore 82. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/48514
Internet URL: http://spore.cta.int/images/stories/pdf/old/spore82.pdf
The Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) is perhaps best known for its Baobab journal, but it deserves wider recognition as a continental network of development workers. Launched in 1988, as a Northern and sometimes questioned initiative, ALIN is...
The Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) is perhaps best known for its Baobab journal, but it deserves wider recognition as a continental network of development workers. Launched in 1988, as a Northern and sometimes questioned initiative, ALIN is now well established in its own right as a resource for grassroots workers in most dryland countries 26 at present of Africa. The network has recently put itself through an internal assessment and evaluation, under its own baobab tree as it were. It has emerged stronger, streamlined, and better equipped to meet the growing demands on its services. ALIN counts about 1600 members, virtually all are full-time development workers based in local NGOs and community-based organisations. It offers them opportunities for training, exchange visits, contacts with colleagues in similar or challengingly different situations elsewhere, and, of course, access to information. The information function is fulfilled through referrals to the most appropriate sources, a range of publications, and the practical journal Baobab, which is published three times a year in French and English. Baobab is not only a rare and welcome forum for exchanging concerns and contacts between grassroots workers across the continent, it also carries practical, clearly presented information, which is often used by other journals. Recent programme themes include medicinal plants, veterinary services, food processing in villages, soil and water conservation, pest control, forestry, and approaches to community development. A directory of members is also produced each year so that project workers can network independently. Many transborder networks in Africa and beyond have started off with noble intentions but have rarely progressed beyond speeches and draft proposals for capacity building or provided reliable services to their members. They reproduce the failings of top-down practices of larger institutions, which the networks sought to replace. ALIN has taken a different and more meaningful approach. Its modest beginnings and emphasis on practical information and membership exchanges show that it has a real constituency, which it truly serves. However, its sound and reliable information service is not its main contribution. No, the real value of ALIN is that it gives the grassroots worker, who is in the front-line of development, a sense of belonging and ownership, and the reassurance that each member is important, but not alone. For further information Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) CP3, Dakar-Fann Senegal Fax: +221 825 4521 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: alin.utando.net