South Africa, 2017

Food for Empowerment: Innovative, just, and sustainable approaches for making food accessible in urban settlements

Country and location: Stellenbosch, South Africa

Dates:  November 13-24, 2017

Application deadline: September 25, 2017

Local partners: Dutch Research Institute for Transitions (DRIFT), Sustainability Institute (SI) and Holland Alumni Association South Africa (HAASA)

Coordinators: Saskia Ruijsink and Linda Zuijderwijk

Target audience:

This course is intended for NFP alumni from South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and other countries in the Southern African region. Alumni are allowed to invite colleagues, if well motivated and to a limited extent. This course is aimed at alumni whose current practice is related to the theme of the course. Female participation is strongly encouraged. The participants will be chosen based on their relevant professional backgrounds, strong motivation and high potential of prolonged development impact of the training.


After the course participants should:

1) Be able to apply the major concepts (food systems; social innovation; transition; sustainable and equitable development; empowerment) to their own context.
2) Be able to use food and its various aspects as a tool for (gender-) empowerment in their own context.
3) Be able to translate their acquired knowledge into a concrete analysis of challenges and an action plan for change for their own situation.
4) Have acquired the competences for becoming change-makers, based on an increased comfort and confidence that they can be the initiators of change in their own contexts.

Course Content:

The course will follow a case-based learning approach. The participants work in groups on their own case study around food as tool for empowerment. This case study deals with issues such as increasing food security; sustainability of food production, consumption and food chains; and the social bonding power of food.

Module 1: Sustainable and Equitable Development and Change (complexity, transitions, sustainability, urban development, urban-rural linkages, food and development, food transitions, food systems, food security)

Module 2: (Urban) Social innovation (empowerment, vulnerability, including gender aspects, social innovation, urban (public) space; the role of social entrepreneurs and system entrepreneurs)

Module 3: Change Makers (Competences for change: negotiation, collaboration, leadership, autonomy, collectiveness; Reflection & Learning)

The course will provide content input around two specific fields of knowledge in two subsequent content modules that relate to 1) ‘Sustainable and Equitable Development and Change’ and 2) ‘Social Innovations and empowerment’ and it introduces South African cases (also field visits) on various topics, among others on sustainable food in Urban Informal Settlements. Thus, the modules 1 and 2 include content, inspiring examples and assignments that are relevant for developing insights around the cases of ‘food for empowerment’. A third module that runs throughout the course which is called 3) ‘Change Makers’ is about competence development for professionals eager to make an impact, achieve and realize sustainable and just change in their daily work.

During this course, participants will do one hour of community work per day, this is part of the learning experience. Activities range from cooking, cleaning, to social activities and many more. The course participants will stay part of their stay in the nice, simple and clean rooms of the Ecovillage and partly in a regular hotel nearby.

Expected Output:

In the application process, the participants will have to include a short description of a case study that they want to focus on during the course. This case study should relate to a challenge that fits in the frame of this course, preferably a challenge that generates ideas on using food as a tool for empowerment. They will be familiarized with concepts (social innovation, sustainable and just urban transitions, food for development) and tools (problem analysis, stakeholder and power and system analysis, gender analysis) that help them to better understand the nature of their own challenges.

Additionally they will work with tools and concepts such as co-creation (tools), placemaking (tools) and living lab (tools), that trigger innovative solutions and make assessment of potential impacts of those. The participants will apply those tools and concepts to their own cases while working in groups for interaction and exchange of ideas through discussions. In this way, they will be challenged to develop some lessons together: the kind of challenges the participants share; the kind of differences that exist, how they can help each other and learn from each other.

At the end of the course the participants will have developed'Back-Home-action plans' which include:
a) An analysis of the issues (which challenges, who faces the challenges (incl. gender focus), the different perceptions, which institutions are involved, the local, regional, national,... dimension of the challenge),
b) Identification of opportunities for change (who, what, where, when)
c) Developing change scenarios including resourcing and monitoring.

Language: All background and course materials will be delivered in English.

Admission requirements: A filled-up online application form and a motivation statement expressing how the course will contribute to one’s professional development, and when applicable the link of  past and/or current professional experience and academic research in one or more of the main themes of the course.