The conference, organized by the three global social work bodies – International Association of Schools of Social Work, International Federation of Social Workers and International Council on Social Welfare – addressed the theme ‘Promoting Community and Environmental Sustainability’.
During the conference, the team of the project Professional Social Work in East Africa - Towards Sustainable Impact (PROSOWO II) presented various academic papers drawing from the ongoing project and empirical research. Altogether eight papers were presented both in parallel sessions and in a workshop. In line with the theme to promote community and environmental sustainability, presenters highlighted the importance of drawing on community resources, indigenous knowledge systems, and culturally appropriate models to achieve sustainable and cohesive communities and at the same time promote meaningful social development.
On the sidelines of the conference, the PROSOWO team held a special workshop session titled ‘Bridging Indigenous and Innovative Social Work Approaches in Social Work Education and Practice in East Africa’. Dr. Zena Mabeyo, Ms. Susan Muchiri and Ms. Consolee Uwihangana were the main speakers in the workshop. Other presentations made during parallel sessions by Dr. Janestic Twikirize focused on specific examples of indigenous knowledge systems such as mutual assistance and the importance of community. Besides sharing the achievements and lessons learnt from the two phases of the PROSOWO project, the speakers presented case studies of indigenous and innovative approaches from Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi, which can inform and strengthen the way social workers interact with individuals, groups and communities to promote wellbeing and social development. Workshop participants appreciated the fact that the project is taking the initiative to research, analyze and document local knowledge and approaches for current and future generations. Whilst the need to decolonize social work has been debated in Africa for a long time, little has been done so far to provide alternative theories, models and concepts. The PROSOWO project is contributing towards bridging this gap through research, publications, advocacy, networking and partnerships, and capacity building.
Participants were also interested in learning about the dynamics of the ongoing academic partnership, especially observing that it involves six partner countries. Completed and upcoming publications raised a lot of interest and response from the participants, with evident demand for these PROSOWO outcomes. In response to participants’ questions about sustainability, the PROSOWO team took the opportunity to share the vision and mission of CRISOWO as one of the mechanisms for moving the project agenda forward, highlighting the fact that we are open to collaboration and partnerships.
From a capacity building perspective, the conference provided an opportunity for learning, developing of networks and confidence building. Mr. Stanley Kitimbo, one of the PROSOWO delegates, summed up his conference experience in these words: "This was my first time to attend a world conference on social work. It gave me an opportunity to meet some of the prominent scholars in social work… that I have at best seen on textbook covers. The interaction with these scholars has inspired me and made me confident that I can actually make it to a level of a Professor. I was moved by their speeches whereby they emphasized that as social workers, we need to move beyond speaking and start acting on the social problems that are affecting our communities."
Read about keynotes, workshops and presentations papers in the Abstract Book of the Joint World Conference on Social Work, Education and Social Development (SWSD) 2018 in Dublin.