The project will support Eastern and Western African countries in developing scientifically sound policies needed for sustainable natural resource management and related poverty reduction. More specifically, it will:
- Develop the institutional scientific capacity in Kenya, Uganda, Ghana and Nigeria in formulating and implementing high quality environmental research projects relevant to sustainable development and poverty reduction.
- Increase the capacity of scientists to publish and disseminate research results so that information can be better utilised and the profile of African institutions increased regionally and globally.
- Establish an active network within and across Eastern and Western African countries that will disseminate research results, and share experiences in influencing policy based on research results.
A recent analysis of international journals that publish research related to environmental management showed that the number of lead author papers by Africans was significantly low. Consequently, African researchers tend to experience a low international profile, which makes it more difficult to attract overseas collaborators and funding. A further consequence is that results from environmental research by African institutions are not accessible to other scientists or policy makers. This, therefore, hinders the work of the wider scientific and conservation community, and increases the likelihood that research will be duplicated. Such information is particularly important for demonstrating the value of natural resource management to livelihoods.
This project addresses the interrelated issues of developing successful research proposals, implementing quality research and sharing and disseminating the results. The project will take the form of an integrated training and support programme that will strengthen the scientific capacity of institutions in Eastern and Western Africa. The longer term benefit to institutions will be to assist them to more effectively link scientific research with policy in order that sound environmental management policies and actions can be implemented.
An integrated tailor-made programme of capacity building activities will take place at the country and regional level. Capacity building is defined as the process by which individuals or organisations increase their abilities to perform core functions, solve problems, define and achieve objectives and also understand and deal with their research and development needs in a broad context and in a sustainable manner. The programme combines a series of workshops with in-service follow-up support, which is coupled with the exchange of knowledge through a regional network of experts. All activities will take a partnership approach, which is considered essential to the long-term success of the project. Combining these methods will significantly increase the likelihood that the impact of the project will continue beyond the funding period. The methods are easily replicated and it is expected that similar activities will be used in other African countries.
A series of three practical training workshops in each country coupled with follow-up support will build skills and understanding in the:
- Design and implementation of quality research in the field.
- Development of successful research proposals.
- Writing and submission of papers for publication in journals and other media where research results can be easily accessed by the wider community.
A fourth training workshop will train trainers and will result in the publication of a research toolkit that future trainers as well as trainees can use. The training-of-trainers component, coupled with the training toolkit, will ensure that participants can continue to train others back at their home institutions and after the life span of the project.
The training workshops will not be stand-alone activities since it is important that new skills and knowledge are applied and developed further afterwards, and that lessons learned are transferred to other scientists. Therefore, the follow-up support programme will provide information and mentorship to participating individuals. All individuals will be enrolled in a network that spans East and West Africa that will provide a forum for exchanging research results and sharing knowledge on the research-policy interface. The network will also be used to provide the mentoring component of the follow-up support programme where advice and feedback will support individuals’ endeavours in developing quality research papers and proposals.