One of the early suggestions made to the first Steering Committee of the World Food Programme (WFP) Alumni Network was to compile an oral history of WFP.
The idea was that the personal experiences of staff members are not recorded anywhere, except by a few through their writings. The agency has a system for managing knowledge in the organization itself, but there has been no system to capture the valuable experiences of staff members. Therefore, the Steering Committee decided to find a way to capture the personal experiences and reflections of staff that can be shared with others, including former, current and prospective members of WFP.
The Steering Committee explored several options for the oral history project and decided to create a theme-based oral history. The themes could be by decades, by key events, by geographic area or according to other criteria. The discussion at the General Meeting of the Alumni Network in June 2016 led the Steering Committee to focus on one theme that had persisted over decades—droughts in Southern Africa. There are many other themes that deserve future consideration.
After deciding on the theme, the Steering Committee compiled the names of approximately 50 colleagues who had served in Southern Africa and had been engaged in some capacity in a Southern African drought. The Steering Committee wrote to those colleagues, describing the project, and sought their participation. About 35 alumni, including four former Executive Directors and a Deputy Executive Director, agreed to contribute their stories.
The Steering Committee decided to engage