Public awareness raising event.
On 15th April we held our Nowruz (New Year) event at the Canadian High Commission in central London. It proved to be an extremely popular event - possibly due to the tasty Afghan savory and sweet snacks being served and the wine! However, the highlights of the evening were the music and dance performances by Afghans and regional professionals. These, along with a short panel discussion by a group of 3 young Afghans studying Masters degrees in the UK under the Chevening Scholar scheme, provided an alternative and upbeat perspective on the country to our guests.
Over 110 attended the event. 15 completed our short online survey afterwards, and whilst 7 of these had lived or worked in Afghanistan for a number of years, others said their familiarity of the country was low or mid-level. 9 respondents (56.3%) said the event had changed their perspective of Afghanistan positively or for the better.
More photos from the event can be viewed here.
Media training in Finland
BAAG were delighted to secure renowned BBC World Affairs Correspondent Mark Doyle to speak at the VIKES training in Helsinki. Mark had just left the BBC to start his freelance consulting career, and was thrilled to be able to share his experiences and expertise with the attendees. His familiarity with Nigeria has also proven helpful in preliminary discussions regarding the field trip to that country.
International Round Table in Riga
BAAG has, with other partners, supported Green Liberty in their development of the agenda and participant list for the upcoming Financing for Development round table. After consultation with Afghanistan, fragile states and development professionals in London, we selected Bill Byrd of USIP to present the case study on fragile states. Bill will also be participating in our national round table in London earlier that week, and can therefore feed into his presentation some of the points and recommendations raised during that.
National Round Table in London
We've been working hard to refine the theme, question and participant list for the first of our national round tables. Wanting to support the content of the Riga international round table, we considered financing in fragile states for the theme. In consultation with experts from Chatham House, ODI, RUSI, LSE, SOAS, Christian Aid, DFID and USIP, we refined this to focus on how the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States has impacted on development in Afghanistan, and how the complexity of development in fragile states is communicated to the public. We're delighted that Chatham House has accepted our invitation to collaborate on the event, and they will host our discussion on 9th June. It's fair to say that, so shortly after our country's general election, it is proving difficult to generate commitments to attend from many members of parliament. However, a number of civil servants have accepted our invitations and we're confident that we'll meet our target of 20 policy-maker attendees across this event and our 2nd round table planned at the end of this year. We also have a number of fragile states experts from think tanks, academia, NGOs and journalism who will attend.
And finally... the photo/journalism competition.
BAAG will be launching this in the summer, with a view to our 2 winners (1 photographer and 1 journalist) travelling to Afghanistan in November to produce an original piece of development journalism. We have consulted with a number of photographers and journalists (including from the BBC and Reuters) and are finalising our project outline. We aim to secure a media partner, who will publish the final piece produced by the winners and will help us publicise the event. Watch this space for launch announcements!