From February to May 2021, twenty-one professionals from Guinea’s Boké region attended an intensive training course at Earthworm's Centre of Social Excellence (CSE) in Yaoundé, Cameroon. This was one of the first times that civil society, communities, government and mining companies in Boké - a major bauxite mining area - have trained for an extended period to build a more sustainable future.
By providing diverse private, public and community actors with the same tools and training in participatory processes, the course sought to level the playing field and prepare a variety of people to collaborate on sustainable development challenges.
The course was funded by the Alcoa Foundation and organised by the Centre of Social Excellence (CSE), a training centre established by Earthworm Foundation. The CSE teaches early and mid-career professionals across, Africa, Asia and South America to cultivate constructive stakeholder relationships where natural resource or agricultural development takes place.
The course provided practical technical knowledge and skills and established lasting connections between peers from sectors that might rarely work together, let alone collaborate daily for months. Earthworm recognises that the conditions for sustainable development in the region include trustful working relationships between professionals from diverse parts of society.
The course involved a series of classroom sessions at the centre, taught by international experts in social management, as well as field sessions in communities and natural resource operations in Cameroon - where methods and approaches from the classroom were put into practice. These included practical tools like participatory stakeholder mapping and problem tree analyses, which students can apply in their professional lives in Boké.
Following a ceremony marking the end of the classroom session 7 May 2020, the students returned to Conakry. Here, they participated in a 10-day field trip exploring the practices and needs of communities and companies in Boké. They now begin a five-month professional field project with local host companies and institutions - with fresh perspectives and greater potential not only as individuals, but as a cadre of emerging social experts with shared principles and relationships.