Reflecting on a year of progress for the VakaYiko consortium

As the second VakaYiko Annual Consortium Meeting approaches (it will take place in Ghana from 28-30 July 2015), Consortium Director, Clara Richards, looks back on a year full of change and progress.  

I am amazed by how time is going by so quickly. It seems like it was yesterday that we were in Harare, Zimbabwe with the whole VakaYiko consortium, celebrating the first year of the project and having many expectations about the upcoming years of implementation.

After having gone through a thorough planning phase we were ready and excited to start making things happen. We were full of questions and intrigue – not only about the VakaYiko project itself but also about how we were going to be working hand-in-hand with five organizations across the world; the VakaYiko project Consortium members are Ghana Information Network for Knowledge Sharing (GINKS), Zimbabwe Evidence Informed Policy Making Network (ZeipNET), the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and INASP.

A year later I find myself in quite a different situation to the one a year ago. Alex Ademokun, my colleague and friend (and, at the time, Director of the consortium) with whom I shared and explored ideas and opportunities for the VakaYiko consortium, moved to work with DFID. It has been six challenging months since I started trying to fill his shoes (I took over as Acting Director when he left and became Director in May) and I hope I am doing a good job keeping the work to its absolutely full potential.

I realised I couldn’t have done so much for VakaYiko without the amazing team I am working with. The organization of the second VakaYiko annual meeting, which will take place in Accra from 28th to 30th July, has shown me just how committed the consortium members are. Everyone is contributing their time, effort and expertise to work together in achieving a successful annual meeting:

  • A group within the consortium is working together to come up with a fascinating agenda.
  • Our colleagues at GINKS in Ghana are hosting the event and are setting up logistics and trying to organize meetings with all the people that we have been working with in the area, including trainers, management at the Civil Service Training Centre (CSTC), public officers, etc. This will enable all members of the VakaYiko consortium to hear first-hand from those directly benefiting from the work of the project.
  • The VakaYiko communications team has already developed a communication plan so we hope to be sharing news before, during and after the event (make sure you follow the INASP Twitter account for the latest news – we will be using the hashtag #VY2015).
  • Jan Liebnitzky, INASP’s Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, is also coming along to the meeting to spot opportunities to answer our ‘learning questions’ – these are questions that are difficult to answer but that we really want to try and understand better.
  • Even our technical advisor from DFID, Ed Barney, is coming and will participate by sharing his experiences of living the Building Capacity for Using Research Evidence (BCURE) project.

We hope to achieve several objectives from the three-day meeting: to strengthen relationships amongst consortium partners; to reflect and learn about our work regarding the context in which we operate; and to re-think our work in face of the third year and end of programme.

There’s a fascinating mix of activities, which include:

  • Stories from consortium partners
  • Discussions with local stakeholders around the use of evidence in Ghana
  • A site visit to CSTC
  • Reflecting on our role as organizations at the knowledge-policy interface
  • Reflecting on how we understand and use different key concepts such as ‘evidence’ and ‘research’
  • Short and practical ‘how-to’ sessions which utilise the variety of skills and expertise present within the consortium

I couldn’t be more grateful to have such a group of hardworking people in the consortium. How committed and enthusiastic they are about our work is inspiring and it’s great to see the cross-national collaboration for the organisation of such event.

I am really looking forward to sharing these three days with our partners (who I am happy to call friends as well) and spending time together to reflect and learn from our work and get our heads ready for an exciting and challenging year three of this project. I am sure there will be plenty of cross-nationality learning as well so we will make sure to capture and share what is going on through those days in Ghana.

Follow live coverage of the VakaYiko Annual Meeting on the INASP Twitter account.

Clara Richards
Clara leads INASP's work on Evidence-Informed Policy Making. Clara’s role is to design and implement capacity building interventions to support research use and advocates for EIPM and to build strong relationship with EIPM’s partners..

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