Take your expertise to Africa with CBA’s SIRD project

  • February 16, 2018

Supporting Inclusive Resource Development in East Africa

A country rich in resources can be a rich country – Canada is a great example of that. But sometimes the journey from rocks in the ground to wealth that can be spread around in a fair and just matter is riddled with obstacles, especially where rule of law is not the guiding philosophy.

Keep reading to find out how you can volunteer

The CBA’s latest project in East Africa, Supporting Inclusive Resource Development has as its aim to increase economic growth for people in the region, including women and vulnerable groups, who are affected by extractive industries. The five-year project officially began early in 2017 but activities started in earnest in November, working in partnership with the law societies of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, as well as the East Africa Law Society, based in Arusha, Tanzania.

The project held its first regional forum last November, gathering representatives from our partner law societies and stakeholders such as women’s groups, governments, community agencies, academic institutions, NGOs, lawyers and representatives from the extractive sector, to discuss ways for all to work together for the common good.

See the photos

Florence Ochago, the Principal Legal Officer for the East African Community, delivered the keynote address. She noted that the extractive industry is a weapon to alleviate poverty in the region and a driver of job creation. But she called on governments to promote gender sensitivity in the industry, as well as human rights.

Aside from CBA staff, five Canadian Bar Association volunteers took part in the regional forum:

  • Jennifer Koshan, a professor at the University of Calgary, gave a presentation on developing effective gender policy in the extractive sector;
  • Paul Manning, of Manning Environmental Law, gave a presentation on building a gender-sensitive environmental management regime;
  • Duncan MacPherson of Bennet Jones, and Jeremy Shelford of Ratcliff & Company LLP, gave a presentation on conflict resolution models in Canada;
  • Kelly McLaughlin, who works for the government of the Northwest Territories, moderated a panel discussing the challenges and opportunities the extractives industry presents for women in East Africa. (See Kelly’s report on her experience at the forum.)

All of the Canadians participated in a variety of panel discussions on topics including engagement with Aboriginal communities in Canada, environmental issues affecting the extractive sector, human rights and extractives and best international practices for the extractive sector.

The first forum discussed issues that are common to the region. In March, each of the three countries will hold a national forum to figure out what specific issues they want to explore as part of the SIRD project. Next steps will include developing curricula with the help of Canadian technical advisers from the CBA membership, then selecting lawyers in each country to be trained on the issues, who will then branch out to train other lawyers and community stakeholders, including women’s groups and local officials, as well as take on pro-bono cases in support of the project goals.

The CBA is looking for volunteers to act as technical advisers at the March national forums. It is also compiling a database of people with expertise in relevant areas, such as land rights, benefits and harms to women in the extractive sector, good governance, transparency, negotiating contracts, environmental damage, health issues, and so on. If you have expertise you’re willing to provide to the project – which may or may not mean travelling to East Africa – please add your name to our database, so that we’ll know who to contact.

For more information on volunteering with SIRD, please contact claudiad@cba.org.

Photo: L-R: Jenniferh Koshan, Duncan McPherson, Paul Manning, Jeremy Shelford, Kelly McLaughlin.