Posts Tagged CAN

Regional Collective Action Wraps Up

After four years, the Regional Collective Action Programme has come to an end. In this final issue of Collective Action News, we report on how Regional Collective Action activities have supported the work of the Consortium and the CRPs.

The Regional Collective Action Programme has been described by Carlos Seré, Director General of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), which has hosted the Programme since its inception in 2007, as ‘a bold experiment that achieved considerable success in promoting collaborative action in eastern and southern Africa that has now been overtaken by the process of CGIAR reform’. Many of the activities started under the Programme have now been incorporated into the CGIAR Consortium and the CGIAR Research Programmes (CRPs).

A key output of the Programme has been the CGIAR Ongoing Research Map. The Map makes CGIAR research information publicly accessible, facilitating information sharing and promoting partnership opportunities. The Research Map is now maintained and managed by the various focal persons in most of the CGIAR Centres who work closely with scientists and take a leading role in ensuring that projects within their Centres are up-to-date. Future administration of the Map will be subject to the outcome of a proposal presented to the Consortium Office to take it up as part of the system wide initiatives. The Research Map, which now has over 530 projects, can be accessed from the home page of the CGIAR Consortium website.

The four Flagship research programmes have been incorporated into various CRPs: Flagship Programmes 1 (Integrated natural resource management) and 2 (Policies, institutions and information for achieving impact at scale) have become part of CRP5 (Durable solutions for water scarcity and land degradation) and CRP2 (Policies, institutions, and markets to strengthen assets and agricultural incomes for the poor). Some aspects of Flagship Programme 4 (Improving impact of emergency response on agricultural livelihoods in highly stressed and unstable systems) have been incporporated into CRP7 (Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security, CCAFS). Flagship 3 (Conservation and enhancement of agricultural biodiversity for improved agricultural production) held two regional workshops on food-feed crops in Nairobi and Bulawayo in February and March 2011 to further understand and evaluate the potential, challenges and opportunities of crop residues to address food and fodder challenges in eastern and southern Africa. Participants included representatives from ILRI, ICRISAT, CIMMYT and CIP, as well as private sector, national and regional partners. A full proposal around this issue is now being drafted which will link into the CRPs on grains, roots and tubers, and livestock. Further details of all the CRPs can be found here.

The Regional Collective Action Programme also recently supported a detailed review of inter-Centre CGIAR capacity development. A desk study, an e-consultation and two regional workshops held in Nairobi and Maputo in April, 2011, were coordinated by ILRI in collaboration with other CGIAR Centres as well as various other international, regional and national institutions with an interest in capacity development. The review found that, despite various past inter-Centre capacity development projects and numerous discussions over the years highlighting the need for enhanced collaboration, there has been limited action or follow-up. Those consulted by the review were critical of the proposed ‘dedicated informal network’ approach to collective capacity development as outlined in the CGIAR Strategy and Results Framework (SRF). Instead, it has been suggested that a more formal mechanism such as a special unit or platform should be established to serve as a think-tank on CGIAR capacity development and collaboration to add value to all Centres and CRPs. The review recommended that a scoping study on the subject should be undertaken by a high level capacity development specialist in close collaboration with the capacity development staff of the CGIAR Centres and the CRP Leaders.If you need further information or details about this project, please contact Dr. Purvi Mehta (P.mehta(at) head of capacity development, ILRI and Jan Beniest (jan.beniest(at)

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Bronze Medal goes to the Collective Action News!

The Association for Communication Excellence (ACE) in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences conferred the Bronze Medal in the Newsletters Class of the 2010 Awards to Collective Action News – the monthly e-newsletter of the Collective Action Program.

Produced to alert agricultural researchers and professionals in Africa to the importance of collective action in research , the newsletter seeks to highlight successful cases of such collective action.

The target audience include agricultural researchers working in the Alliance of the CGIAR centres, staff in partner organisations (regional and national agricultural research institutes; NGOs, the private sector), donors, government policy advisers, among others. While the audience is primarily in Africa, the newsletter is also sent to readers in other continents who have an interest in these issues in Africa.

The newsletter reaches approximately 10,000 recipients, and is disseminated electronically – through email and on the Regional Plan website. Readers can easily forward it to others – the publication is generally limited to one page, and the PDF averages just half an MB. Relevant contacts are added onto the mailing list on a regular basis, and the newsletter is sent to Communications professionals in all CG Centres, with a request to circulate it to all staff in their centres and widely within their networks.

Reactions from readers, and the willingness to write lead articles and place newsbytes indicates that the publication is well received and is achieving its objectives.

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Regional partnerships to strengthen the seed industry

For this issue of Collective Action News, the spotlight is on Alliance for the Seed Industry in East and Southern Africa (ASIESA) initiative. While addressing the constraints to developing a vibrant commercial seed industry in East & South Africa, the initiative aims at improving the use of quality seed in the region.

The newsbytes, among others highlights the Global Futures project launch in Washington and you can now find an updated list of IWMI’s research projects (24) carried out in the region in CGMAP Ongoing Research in Africa.

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CGMap Ongoing Research in Africa: Empowering, Informative, Exciting

One year since the first prototype map previewed in the Collective Action News, we are pleased to report that the revamped CGMap Ongoing Research in Africa ( has been officially released.

The CGIAR is making a concerted effort to coordinate many of its activities with the aim of collectively responding to common challenges. There were concerns that, for a number of years, CG Centers had continued to work independently, with research outputs and outcomes strewn across different media. The initiative titled “CGMap Ongoing Research in Africa,” seeks to provide a systematic way of collating, sharing and disseminating outputs and outcomes from the 15 CGIAR centers.

The Ongoing Research Map has seen the inclusion of features that will revolutionise the way users search for agricultural information. These new features include a more specific and targeted search tool, the ability to add links to a project’s output, relevant documents and Websites and presents a more robust geographical user interface. The map has an interactive information management system for contributors, where project managers have complete ownership over their information. Most of these innovations are a result of monitoring the map’s use, feedback from users and an evaluation survey carried out in October 2009.

A key ingredient of the map is the network of scientists and contributors. By establishing relationships with colleagues who conduct research, it has been possible to obtain a very high coverage of ongoing research particularly in Eastern and Southern Africa, with 95% of projects in the region already included in the map. Additionally, since the system does not have geographical limits, data are being collected for other areas outside the African continent. This makes the Ongoing Research Map easily extensible for the creation of additional focused maps. Contributors can also share projects and invite colleagues to become contributors, thus encouraging the feeling of ownership of their information.

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Disaster Risk Reduction: Addressing the longer term issues – October CAN

CAN OctoberThe Horn of Africa is currently dealing with the aftereffects of one of the worst droughts in a decade. Although the recent onset of the rains has brought respite to many parched areas, food security continues to deteriorate throughout the region. Worse, meteorologists predict a period of intense rainfall due to the El Niño weather phenomenon, which could trigger massive flooding in several countries before year-end. Analysts are concerned that heightened vulnerability levels in many drought-stricken communities will exacerbate the impact of flooding. In this issue of CAN, we report on the ways in which research by CGIAR centres – through Disaster Risk Reduction – is enhancing the ways in which relief and development agencies respond to natural hazards such as drought and floods.

In the Horn of Africa, more and more people are affected each time a drought occurs. Drought is becoming more frequent, allowing less time for recovery in between droughts, and increasing the vulnerability of local populations. Emergency food security interventions implemented in response to drought tend to involve the distribution of seed, water, fodder and veterinary inputs. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated that, by the mid-1990s, more than US$10 million per year was being spent on procuring seed for emergency projects in the Greater Horn.

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Rising food prices in eastern and southern Africa revisited: Lifting trade barriers is still the answer

CAN August 2009In the August issue of the Collective Action News, we revisit food price trends across eastern and southern Africa, a topic we focused on in our first issue, in July 2008, just after the global food price crisis had peaked. We also draw attention to policy responses to the food price crisis, and provide an outlook for food prices in ESA for the rest of 2009.

Although the Global Food Price Index (FPI) of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) fell between June 2008 and February 2009, global food prices have been rising slightly since then. Changes in the Global FPI were matched by a persistent increase in FPIs in countries belonging to the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), except for Malawi and Comoros, which have experienced very volatile FPIs. On average, the prices of white maize, beans, milk, and non-tradable food items such as bananas, potatoes and yams all increased between January 2007 and January 2009.

White maize is the staple grain in Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia and some parts of Ethiopia. In Uganda, it is grown mainly as a commercial crop for export to the region. Ethiopia, Kenya, Zambia, Uganda, and Tanzania have all seen substantial increases in maize prices from early 2007 – and there were no signs of decrease as of March 2009, apart for Zambia. The prices in these countries seem to be linked, perhaps due to cross-border trade and shortfalls of maize production within East Africa. For the season ending March 2009, maize supply in Kenya was constrained by reduced imports from Tanzania and Uganda during 2008/09 due to tightened markets in those countries as well as a trade ban in Tanzania – which led to prices almost 120% above normal. Similarly, from January 2007 to January 2009, bean prices have risen in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Zambia and Tanzania…Read more

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Managing the fertility of Africa’s soils: the case for collective action

Collective Action News Issue 10 July 2009In the July issue of Collective Action News, we direct the spotlight into a key aspect of those agricultural systems: Africa’s soils. How can we collectively manage this vital resource? Africa’s soils lose a dollar equivalent of US$ 4 billion in nutrients each year. In the past, single technological solutions were promoted across wide areas, often failing to take the heterogeneity of African soils into account. Today, collective action is developing principles and tools to tackle soil infertility more efficiently, and to enrich the knowledge base of how and where soil constraints manifest themselves in African landscapes and farms. On a continent where 65% of people are directly affected by soil degradation, this has not come a moment too soon.

Our Newsbytes highlight some of the resolutions that experts on agriculture, land and livestock reached at the African ministers meeting in Addis Ababa in April this year. Also featured is the CGIAR Research Map, highlighting the World Agroforestry Centre’s projects – 62 of which tie in with the lead story focus on INRM.

Happy reading and do keep your comments, questions and suggestions coming.

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