Tag Archives: Sierra Leone

Why we need to take a collective action approach to research capacity building

Sometimes it feels hard to keep afloat in the tide of thinking and debate about development – what to do, how to do it better – and difficult to find time to take the latest thinking and actually incorporate it into programme design. Harder still to incorprate the latest thinking into projects that are already in progress. It’s a couple of years since David Booth and Diana Cammack published their book on governance in Africa (there’s a nice summary here). They argue that development is about solving collective action problems. But the key idea – that problems can only be tackled by ditching the supply/demand focus, and by bringing different groups together and finding a common ground – stuck, because it made so much sense and resonated with much of what we’ve learnt at INASP over the years.  As they argue: ‘…governance challenges are not fundamentally about one set of … Continue reading

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Enthusiasm, timing and local ownership shape our new initiatives in Sierra Leone

Having recently returned from my second visit to Sierra Leone, I have been reflecting on the last year of our collaboration project with Reseach4Life. The project aims to advance research in Sierra Leone through supporting and developing the capacity to use and produce research literature. While INASP is actively working to support colleagues in Sierra Leone, they are helping us to understand more about the conditions necessary to advance research both in Sierra Leone and elsewhere. Initial visit In September 2013 we made a scoping visit to Sierra Leone to meet with as many people connected with the higher education and research sector as possible, learning about their successes, challenges and aspirations. It struck us how many people were determined to make a success of re-building the country after the war. We recognised the familiar challenges we meet in many of the countries in which we work: inadequate electricity and … Continue reading

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Tackling systems and complexity in a research capacity programme: Part 3

This is a joint post written by: Alex Ademokun (@AAlex_A), Senior Programme Manager, Evidence-Informed Policy Making Jonathan Harle (@jonharle), Senior Programme Manager, Research Access and Availability In our last two posts, we discussed how INASP’s thinking on capacity building has been influenced by some recent debates on systems and complexity (and also by many years of experience) and how we go about understanding the national research systems in which we work. In the intervening weeks we’ve had some really valuable comments, and had the opportunity to reflect further as our programmes continue to unfold. As we’ve said before, we see ourselves as a ‘doing’ organisation, and want to try and ground this discussion in specific, practical experience as far as we can. So here we want to offer some examples of these approaches in three of the countries we’re working in – Nepal, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe.

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In one of the world’s poorest countries, should research and higher education be a priority?

I was lucky enough to spend a week in Sierra Leone at the beginning of September, and it was a great opportunity to reflect on what we do – and what we could do – in the context of an entirely new country. INASP hasn’t worked in Sierra Leone before, but with a new body of programme work, we’re now in a position to think about introducing our work to a few new countries. But this post isn’t about that new work, but about some broader impressions – of Sierra Leone and its development needs, and why our work matters. In the fourteen years that I’ve travelled in, worked in, and briefly lived in parts of the continent, I’ve been privileged to explore many countries, and to have had my thinking repeatedly challenged. But in recent years I’ve come to spend much of my time in relatively comfortable hotels and … Continue reading

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