10TH IAALD WORLD CONGRESS,
DAKAR, SENEGAL, 24-28 JANUARY 2000
The 10th IAALD World Congress was held in Dakar, Senegal from the 24th to 28th January 2000. The theme for the Congress was "Challenges facing the agricultural information community in the third millennium" and was under the patronage of His Excellency Robert Sagna, Senegalese State Minister of Agriculture. This was the first time such an IAALD event has taken place in Africa. 85 participants representing from 27 countries and 18 regional and international organisations attended the Congress. The list of participants is in appendix1
The Congress was organised around four
major sub-themes: isolation and professional adaptation (including human resource
development) collaboration and partnership, economic crisis and its impact on information
services and technological change and revolution. A programme of the Congress is given in
One major lesson from the Congress is that the information professional needs a whole new set of skills and competencies. They need to go far beyond the traditional technical competencies they learned. This was clearly stated in Dr Mangstl's presentation on the role of information in promoting worl-wide food security band either stated or implied in every presentation that followed. The new skills go far beyond than current librarian and information professional training curricula.
The information professional in the third millennium needs to be a planner. The key to any success is good planning. Planning must be done in both the short term and long term. The information professional must be able to look at the big picture and project what they should be doing. CTA's experience shows the need for long term planning in the formulation of the objectives and that the information professional also needs to be part of the larger planning process.
In order to plan effectively we need to know our users. Information professionals need to know who are the users are and what they need as well how they need it. M Zachariou Diallo, of FENOP a farmer's organisation in Burkina Faso discussed the non-availability of the information farmers needs;
The information professional needs to provide appropriate information at the appropriate level. The clients are no longer first researchers or the students but people at all level. Successful planning requires input from all the stakeholders and many donor agencies are now requiring this. The successful projects have planning built in.
Implementing any plan means managing change. Managing change requires new skills for the users, staff and the information professional. Change can come from different areas. Change can be from internal forces brought on by the planning process or change can come from external forces such as the circumstances described by Drs Hans van Hartevelt of KIT in his paper on "Contract management: a new government policy for output financing of products and services". Change means intensive training by the users as well as retraining of information staff.
Technology has changed the way we do business. There have been tremendous changes since the last IAALD Congress. E-mail was not very prominent in Melbourne and now it links the world. Without technology there would be no Franco-phone Virtual University or on Information System on the Senegalese desertification. Technology has forever changed our lives as Pam André printed out.
In order to survive in this third millennium we need to form alliances and partnerships on all levels. We need to partner for funding purposes and with IT people to meet our technology needs. Partnerships range from international co-operation to the personal experiences as we have heard from our colleagues in Eastern Europe. We cannot work in isolation even if we are isolated. Partnerships and alliances are necessary for us to move forward.
In order to know where we are going, we have to know where we have been. To this end we need to be able to assess our effectiveness and impact. This brings us full circle assessment is necessary for good planning. Good planning requires knowing how effective we have been to formulate a strategy for moving forward. Good assessment means communicating with our stakeholders and learning from our successes and our failures. Assessment is the key to good planning.
As Peter Walton said in his presentation: "Our challenge is in adapting to this new environment".