In partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funded Cooperative Development Program (CDP) implemented in Rwanda by Land O’Lakes International Development, the University of Lay Adventists of Kigali (UNILAK) facilitated an international research symposium on cooperative development on May 22-24th in Kigali.
In response to their call for papers, UNILAK received over 30 submissions covering different thematic areas, and selected 6 papers to be presented at the conference. The researchers presented their work, which covered three thematic areas: cooperative governance, finance and resilience, and social inclusion during a one-day conference dubbed “Cooperatives Research Symposium 2018” held on May 22, 2018 at Kigali Marriott Hotel.
LuAnn Werner, the Chief of Party/Programs Manager at Land O’ Lakes International Development, said that partnering with a local university on research to find out how cooperatives can improve the quality of life especially in rural areas of Rwanda will be very beneficial to the country and the region.
“Land O’Lakes is pleased to work with UNILAK to host an innovative Rwanda Cooperative Research Symposium focusing on the theme of “rural resilience – the role of cooperatives in achieving sustainable rural development,” said Ms.Werner.
She added that “this initiative is bringing together researchers within Rwanda, and regionally, with a goal to support improved livelihoods through data driven findings, learning and dissemination.”
“With funding from USAID’s Cooperative Development Program we are able to create this unique opportunity for researchers to share, learn and network while bridging their findings to key stakeholders for further action,” she added.
Land O’Lakes International Development noted that the findings of the research, are insightful and will help enrich dialogue on cooperative strength to enhance livelihoods.
Commenting on the research symposium and its importance, Dr Jean Ngamije, the Vice Chancellor at UNILAK said that the University is pleased to join hands with its partners Land O’Lakes International Developmentand the National Cooperatives Confederation of Rwanda (NCCR) in organizing the research symposium.
“This event will remain an important step in the developmental journey of UNILAK and our country at large,” said Dr Ngamije adding;
“It comes at the right time and it corresponds with our mission statement of promoting integral education, scientific and technological research, community service and any other thing that may directly or indirectly contribute to the real development of our country, Rwanda.”
He adds that the results of this research symposium will bring more experience, knowledge and skills from researchers from different countries which will inspire the university to move forward.
The one-day international symposium supported by USAID through Land O’Lakes CDP attracted over 130 delegates who included researchers from Rwanda, Tanzania, and Kenya. Dr. Anne Cafer of the University of Mississippi in the United States also attended and supported UNILAK in the conference preparations.
The symposium was part of a 3 full-days programme which also included an expert-led training on relevant research skills from Dr. Anne Cafer and an interactive learning tour to UNILAK’s campus in the Southern Province by a selected group of delegates.
UNILAK’s Kigali campus hosted part of the activities which included lectures and hands-on learning sessions pertaining to qualitative research methods, utilizing research findings to create an outreach curriculum, and ethics in research and publishing.
The findings of the researchers are expected to help policy and decision makers to make informed decisions in regard to how to support cooperatives, as well as guiding the design and implementation of future development programs funded by international aid organizations.
The Cooperative Development Program is made possible with the generous support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) office of Local Sustainability based in Washington D.C.
For more details about the Cooperative Research Symposium 2018, visit www.researchsymposium2018.com