In February 2013, Nuru International’s project in Ethiopia transitioned into the early phases of field implementation. In this update, I introduce Douglas La Rose, Nuru International’s Agriculture Program Facilitator for Ethiopia. Before I do so, I want to review where we’ve come from and where we’re at currently.

Nuru International started working in Kuria, Kenya in 2008. To further scale, develop and proof the Nuru Model in a context outside of Kenya, Nuru International started a country expansion initiative. In 2011, Nuru International carried out the bulk of the country selection process, including studies, scouting visits, and deliberation of a country scaling proposal. In 2012, after consolidating the Ethiopia expansion proposal, plans were further developed, and administrative and physical groundwork was carried out. In January 2013, the first Scout Team was onboarded and subsequently trained for their deployment to Boreda, Ethiopia in February 2013.

The goal of Scout Team, the first team of Nuru International staffers in Ethiopia, centers on co-creating the Agriculture Program model together with local Nuru Ethiopia staff. The final product produced by the end of Scout Team – the program proposal – and the process for co-creating that proposal merit further exploration.

By the end of Scout Team, international and local staff together strive to build a proposal for the Agriculture Program in Ethiopia that addresses the need of hunger in an impactful, sustainable, and scalable way. This entails first studying and understanding the need of hunger in local communities. Then, local and international staff will work together to develop a goal, scope, activities, rollout and budget that address the need of hunger with agricultural solutions. By compiling these pieces and more into a cohesive proposal, Nuru Ethiopia and Nuru International staff will have an Agriculture Program model to be then implemented together with communities.

The process of program co-creation – or working in a meaningful partnership with locals to understand problems and then propose and implement solutions – is fundamental to the work of Nuru International. Scout Team centers on training local staff, facilitating work sessions, and also learning from local staff to achieve the common objective of building the Agriculture Program model. Local staff develop strong leadership abilities while at the same time they actively learn-by-doing, alongside their Nuru International counterparts.  This process empowers Ethiopian staff to best analyze local needs and then propose and implement solutions.

Scout Team is a first in many ways for Nuru International. It is the first country project for Nuru beyond Kenya. The product of Scout Team – the Agriculture Program proposal – will be Nuru Ethiopia’s first co-created impact program. It will be later followed by other impact programs of Community Economic Development, Healthcare, and Education. Agriculture Program co-creation in Ethiopia is piloting the way that Nuru International plans to develop programs in all new countries of operation.

Highly competent teams of Nuru International and Nuru Ethiopia staff are ready for the big challenges that come before them. It is in this context that I introduce Douglas La Rose, Nuru International’s Agriculture Program Facilitator for Ethiopia. In the field, he is accompanied by incredibly talented Nuru Ethiopia staff that work in Agriculture, Monitoring and Evaluation, and Leadership Programs, and in Nuru Ethiopia’s Administration. Nuru International field staff for Ethiopia include Team Leader (and CEO) Jake Harriman, Leadership Program Facilitator Barry Mattson, and Monitoring and Evaluation Program Facilitator Kristin Lindell.

Douglas is an anthropologist and agriculturalist who has been working in rural Africa since 2005. He received his M.A. in Applied Anthropology from San Diego State University in 2011 after conducting an extensive quantitative and qualitative research project on agricultural adaptations to environmental change in the Volta Region of Ghana. Douglas has extensive experience in agriculture, having managed an agroforestry project in Ghana that focuses on sustainable cocoa, plantain, banana, and palm nut production.  Douglas has also written and published numerous articles on agriculture, climate change, and environmental anthropology. Douglas was an agroforestry Peace Corps Volunteer in Ghana from 2005-2007.