You can help us address the root causes of forced migration in East Africa

The Center for Collaborative Synthesis in Archaeology and Coalition for Archaeological Synthesis are teaming up with the Initiative for Sustainable Development in Africa (ISDAf) to reduce conflict and forced migrations resulting from insufficient coordination with Local, Indigenous and Descendant (LID) communities during the scoping, planning and development of infrastructure and biodiversity conservation projects. We are seeking support for a workshop to be at the State University of Zanzibar, Zanzibar, Tanzania. (August 13-16, 2022) wherein anthropologists, archaeologists, social scientists, and ecologists who live and work in Africa will come together to identify patterns of failure in the stakeholder consultation process. The workshop is being organized by the founders of ISDAf in partnership with CCSA, CfAS, IBS, the Musée de l’Institut Fondamental d’Afrique Noire (IFAN), Universite Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar, Senegal, University of Dar es Salaam, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and the Department of Museums and Antiquities, Zanzibar.

The workshop will examine the effects of ethnographic practices in Environmental and Social Impact Assessments (ESIAs) on local, indigenous, and descendant (LID) communities. Ethnographic interviews conducted for ESIAs are designed to provide decision makers with information to manage proposed developments to benefit affected LID communities. Yet, despite these efforts, many projects fail to minimize adverse impacts or to deliver promised benefits. The consequences of failure in the ESIA process are potentially very serious. The UNDP’s (2019) report on international migration explores the driving forces behind many Africans following irregular pathways (i.e., via human smugglers) to immigrate to Europe. The study found that 90 percent of immigrants would take the same risks again given the chance to create a life in Europe. Seventy seven percent (77 %) of people interviewed said the primary reason they left their homes was because they “felt their voice was unheard or had no opportunity to participate in their country’s government.”  UN organizations, the WBG, AfDB, and most national governments recognize that historically indigenous groups and people living in rural communities have been disenfranchised by development projects (e.g., Douglas et al. 2016; Douglas 2021, Jansen 2021, Pyburn 2021, Thiaw and Ly 2021).  Although formal consultation is intended to be a core element of ESIAs, social unrest abounds and remains a significant problem in many regions throughout Africa.

The Zanzibar workshop will examine the ethnographic methods employed on a sample of East African projects that complied with the World Bank Environmental and Social Standards (2018) and/or International Finance Corporation Performance Standards (2012). Over a four-day period, workshop participants will: (1) determine how ethnographic data were gathered and communicated to lenders, agencies, and institutions; (2) investigate economic and political influences; (3) examine how ethnographic methods can be modified to better understand and convey the voice of LID communities, and (4) how best to have LID requests honored by project decision makers. This workshop brings together 13 African scholars and 5 international consultants. The outcomes are anticipated to have broad implications on the ethnographic method as it is employed in development projects and programs in East Africa and beyond.

We have already received partial funding from the Werner Gren Foundation and additional pledges of support from DL-Douglas Consulting, Lethbridge, Canada; GW Heritage, United Kingdom; the SRI Foundation, Rio Rancho, New Mexico, USA; State University of Zanzibar, Zanzibar, Tanzania; IFAN, Dakar, Senegal; the University of Dar es Salaam, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa. However, we require an additional USD $10,000.00 to support five additional African nationals to attend the workshop. Your tax-deductible donation will be used to cover their flights, local transportation, accommodations and food for five nights/days. Additional information on the Zanzibar workshop is available at

To donate to the Initiative for Sustainable Development in Africa, click here. Thank you!

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