She completed a MSc (1996) focusing on International Agriculture, specialising in Management of Rural Development (Reading University), after a BSc in Tropical Animal Production (International Agricultural College, Deventer, 1981). She was born in October 1955, grew up in an extended family farm setting situated in the Eastern part of the Netherlands, and married to A.T.P. Hakkesteegt in 1981.
For the last 35+ years, she has worked full time in East Africa (Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, Sudan, Ethiopia), Middle East (Yemen Arab Republic), Central / South Asia (India, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Uzbekistan, Bangladesh) and South America (Brazil, Guatemala, Peru) in several capacities –from field worker – associate expert - team leader – head of section – regional coordinator - related to rainfed agriculture, intensive and extensive livestock systems in rural areas. DGIS, SNV and SDC were her employees for the long-term assignments. Her initial focus has been on extension, including design and implementation of programmes, management, and training for extension agents. A desire to integrate the fe/male farmer’s perspective triggered her involvement in the integration of gender-sensitive extension approaches; extension-research-farmer linkages and pro-poor livestock policy making processes are also a longstanding interest.
From 2001 onwards, she has been based in India; she headed the Natural Resource Management section of SDC till end of 2005; in 2006 she took up the challenge to lead the joint initiative of the National Dairy Development Board, Anand, India and Food and Agriculture Organisation, Rome, Italy called the South Asia Pro-Poor Livestock Policy Programme. The corner stone of SA PPLPP is the facilitation of an on-going dialogue among all actors playing a direct or indirect role in the livestock sector of South Asia and to learn from Good Practices (GPs) in the context of pro-poor livestock development. Among others, it was learnt that different actors of a given value chain need to be involved to successfully promote improved practices.
In May 2009, she returned to her home country, the Netherlands, and started as an independent international consultant under the name ‘Livestock and Livelihoods’. As her network is large, she hardly has to undertake acquisition as various on-going assignments in particular with IFAD but also her previous employers (SDC, DGIS) seek her services and keep her engaged. Her consultancy assignments focus on different aspects of project cycle management (design, backstopping, Monitoring and Evaluation, Learning Routes, etc.) and normally in the field of livestock sector development, rainfed agriculture, natural resource management and local institutions. Recently, she also got engaged in the climate resilience in semi-arid areas (Sudan). Assignments brought her shortly back to West Africa in 2014 as well as 2017, and it concerned returning to Burkina Faso after approximately 30 years. In 2016 – 2017, she was involved in a long assignment related to design a EC funded Livestock Programme as well as facilitating the development of a community based rangeland strategy in Swaziland.
She is a member of the Programme Advisory Committee of the Dryland Development Programme (DRYDEV), a farmer-led programme to enhance water management, food security, and rural economic development in the drylands of Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Ethiopia, and Kenya.
Apart from consultancy work, she is a quest lecturer and examiner for Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences as well as Wageningen University. In addition, she is a member of the Dutch Committee for Afghanistan as well as of Water Focus, a cooperative that unites the knowledge and experience of some 40 independent professionals in the water sector.