It is our honor and pleasure to welcome you to participate in this International Social Work Conference. The conference is unique and coincides with the international social work day which is a symbol demonstrating the invaluable role of the social work profession in development. The conference will bring together participants from diverse backgrounds: academicians, researchers, policy makers, social work practitioners, service users, and students, international and local NGOs and Civil Society Organizations, as well as development partners. Hence, it provides a unique opportunity to share different experiences, knowledge and skills.
The conference is jointly organized by a consortium of 6 schools of social work; 5 from East Africa (Makerere University-Uganda, University of Nairobi-Kenya, Institute of Social Work -Tanzania, University of Rwanda, Hope Africa University- Burundi) and 1 from Austria-Carinthia University of Applied Sciences under the umbrella of the recently launched East Africa Centre for Research and Innovation in Social Work (www.crisowo.org). Since 2011, this consortium has been jointly implementing a project to strengthen professional social work in East Africa in order for social workers to more effectively contribute to social development, poverty reduction and the realization of global development goals (www.appear.at/prosowo).
The conference theme “Professional Social Work and Sustainable Development in Africa” is important not only in Africa, but also worldwide particularly at a time like this when the world is grappling with economic sustainability and also issues of environmental and community sustainability, and when the balance between economic and environmental benefits is fragile. Sustainability cannot be achieved unless we all join hands and work towards a common good for all people. Social work as a profession aims to promote human rights and social justice and plays a central role in the achievement of sustainable development.
The consortium thoughtfully selected Rwanda as the host country due to its unique history and position in Africa and globally; a country almost shattered by the 1994 genocide and yet one of those fastest growing economies in Africa; a country that is turning the ashes of the genocide into beauty. It offers a great lesson on environmental and community sustainability as well as resilience in the face of gross adversity. Rwanda also exemplifies the unique role that social workers play in re-building and sustaining communities and society. As part of the conference, we shall offer participants hands-on experiences of everyday life in Rwanda and an opportunity to get involved in some of the home grown initiatives that social workers have adopted to promote social change.
Finally, as the host for this conference, it is an occasion to thank all those who continue to support the promotion of social work in East Africa. Special thanks to the Austrian Development Agency through the Austrian Partnership Program in Higher Education for Research and Development (APPEAR), for the support to the PROSOWO project in general and to this conference in particular. The PROSOWO team has continued to work tirelessly to make this conference memorable for each of you. Our deepest gratitude to our keynote speakers for your invaluable contribution to the success of this conference. Thanks to all participants, delegates and presenters for making this happen.
Ms. Consolee Uwihangana
Chair of the Local organizing Committee