Looking Back Moving Forward: 2016

Leonida Odongo
Posted December 19, 2016 from Kenya
Session on Food Justice in the Context of Leaving No One Behind and Agenda 2030

Going down memory lane, 2016 has been a year of weaving a web of new friendships, strengthening former alliances and continued learning, unlearning and inspiring others.

Personally, 2016 is the year I got the most opportunities to participate in convening that altered my worldview, generated new ideas and helped cement partnerships across diverse parts of the globe.

The year gave me a chance to understand global partnership for development and the gaps existing in that despite years of aid poor countries have not yet taken a developmental leap forward.

The year provided me with space to learn more about Africa by having face-to-face conversations with farming communities, youth organizations, women rights activists and those pushing for an equitable trade agenda globally.

I got to listen to the voices of those in protracted conflict states who have not known peace for years. I got to listen to the pain of communities deprived of their land and livelihoods, who face militarism at the hands of the very institutions supposed to protect them.

It was a year of explaining what being left behind in the development agenda, the experiences of exclusion and marginalization and the muted voices in the periphery means.

2016 provided a platform for sharing in a global arena the plight of indigenous people in Kenya, small-scale fishermen who earn their living by the catch of the boat. The realities of what is like to be a salt miner, a substance which is found in tables and industries all over the world of which the producer has a backache at the end of a long day in the hot sun, chipping using a mattock for a daily wage that cannot buy breakfast and lunch.

I got an opportunity to listen first-hand to the experiences of artisanal miners, the realities of day-to-day struggle to get a mound of gold .The frustration of using materials not matching with the labour they have to undertake. The experiences of communities in mining zones in Kenya was a replica of the paradox of the plenty in which those supposed to enjoy the wealth of their communities are wallowing in poverty.

Journeying through the slipper rope of food justice struggles alongside smallholder farmers who depend on rains from above in to enable their crops to grow. The frustrations of buying seeds from an agrovets only for the seeds not to germinate and having no one to blame or no one to explain why the harvest is not forthcoming.

It was a year of unleashing the potential of collecting learning and information sharing and accessing new practices such as the well-advanced seed banking systems found in Guatemala.

The greatest milestone for my community was being able to provide small holder farmers with alternatives , a new way of carrying out farming which brings together the technical aspects of farming as well as asks the political questions on agricultural production.It was a year to share the experiences of communities affected by climate change and bring their plight to a global audience.It was a year of sharpening skills in learning among grassroots small holder farmers that I work with and the most humbling moment was farmers sharing that their crops are better and they are visiting each other to learn from each other.

It was a year of going back to the basics of putting pen to paper to write my thoughts to share my experiences with strangers and friends alike across rivers, oceans and valleys.

It was a year that confirmed to me that I still have along way to go in the journey of learning and I got to take the shackles off my feet, my trip has just began.

And finally the time has come to thank all those who made it possible for me to transverse the maze of new knowledge and gave me space to express my views and lent me an ear to listen to what I had to say in 2016.

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This story was submitted in response to 2016: Looking Back, Moving Forward.

Comments 2

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Tamarack Verrall
Dec 20, 2016
Dec 20, 2016

Dear Leonida,

What an amazing, extensive and important journey you have been on this year. What I love about World Pulse is that it is built on our stories, and it is especially wonderful to read about attention being carefully given to so many whose voices have not been heard, and who have little or no means to be heard. You have amplified so many voices with this post alone, and I look forward to continuing to learn from you. These are the necessary changes that must not be forgotten. What great work you are doing.

In sisterhood,


Leonida Odongo
Jan 09, 2017
Jan 09, 2017

Dear Tam,

It's great hearing from you and thank you for your words of courage.I will be sharing more articles on the social justice issues that I handle .

In solidarity