A peek into collective action

Ever wondered what Regional Plan for Collective Action is all about? Who is behind the steering wheel, where is it being driven to, on which path and to where? Do you wonder what exactly are its goals, mission, what has been achieved so far?

Wonder no more, in this blog feature we look at the history, the moments and the future of collective action.

The ‘Meetings of the Mind’ held in 2000 with a view of improving collaboration within Sub-Saharan Africa was the mother of this initiative, yes we date way back!

In the year 2005 the Centres proposed the development of two regional plans (‘Integrated Medium Term Plans’), one for West and Central Africa and one for Eastern and Southern Africa to bring about better coordination among Centres and better collaboration with partners. After more meetings and meetings the seed beared fruit and the Regional Plan for East Africa was created. Our goal;  to foster the emergence of a coordinated, cohesive program of agricultural research that unleashes economies of scale and scope at low transaction costs, in order to successfully address regional priorities, ranging from complex problems of stagnant or falling agricultural productivity, poverty, to impacts of climate variation.

It is important to recall that the plan was the product of a systematic consultative process that took place among centre scientists, between these and scientists in their regional partner institutions and with the relevant sub-regional organisations. In ESA, all fifteen centres, more than 10 NARS, both sub-regional organisations, FARA and the NEPAD-REC (regional economic commission) were directly involved.

How do we work you might wonder??

Our aim is to add value to ongoing and future agricultural research in eastern and southern Africa. This collaborative program is expressed in four Flagship Programs:

Flagship 1: Integrated Natural Resources Management (INRM)

Flagship 2: Policies, Institutions and Information for Achieving Impact at Scale

Flagship 3: Conservation and Enhancement of Agricultural Biodiversity for Improved Agricultural Production

Flagship 4: Improving impact of emergency response on agricultural livelihoods in highly stressed and unstable systems.

Platform and capacity support include support to collective action on capacity strengthening, sub-regional organizations (ASARECA, SADC-FANR) and FARA and networks, and ‘platforms’ such as BecA, ReSAKSS. It also includes collaboration with ICT-KM’s ‘CG Map’ on a knowledge base of CGIAR research in the region that answers the question: “Who is doing what, with whom and where?” – http://ictkm.cgiar.org/cgmapTemplate/ESA_map.html

Major accomplishments

1. Programmes; inter-Centre working groups in all Flagship programmes that have significant SRO, NARS and regional network participation.

2. Platforms: Support to ReSAKSS and ASARECA in preparation of responses to food price crisis. Support to inter-centre capacity strengthening initiative

3. Research monitoring: Development of an online database of CGIAR research in ESA together with ICT-KM’s “CG Map” (publicly accessible on the internet from Feb. 15, 2009). This is based on an inventory of over 80% of the CGIAR’s research in the region.


‘The CGIAR was an institutional innovation when it was created in the 1960s. By aligning itself a new with its partners in eastern and southern Africa to unleash innovations — in strategy, structure, support systems, skills and, not least, shared values — the CGIAR is grasping a unique opportunity’. Howard Elliott

‘We cannot move in four integration directions at the same time and expect coherence to emerge from that’. Jan Laarman (Former ICRAF DDG)

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