The inception phase of Africa RISING is coming to an end on 30 September.
All ‘jumpstart activities’ and ‘early win’ projects from this phase have to be completed, and the broad program is coming out of the ground. The first of the three projects to officially wrap up the inception phase and pave the way for the next four years is the Ethiopian Highlands.
On 17-18 September 2012, the ‘Ethiopia’ annual planning and review meeting took place on the premises of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – and some of the remaining issues call for immediate action. The two-step meeting reviewed early win project results and lessons and brought this legacy on to the development of the broader Ethiopian project for the next four years. It also invited partners to help shape up the research agenda and find a fit with existing development initiatives.
The core project team participated in the first day of the workshop. Team members reviewed the quick win projects (Quick Feeds, Quick Water, Quick Pulses, Quick trees and Research for Development). A number of these projects had themselves organized a reflection workshop (such as ‘Research for Development’ and Quick Feeds), which made it easier to tease out the main elements to share with the wider project.
The group also developed some research ideas around the three main steps in the research framework adopted by the Program:
- situation analysis and program-wide synthesis
- integrated systems improvement
- scaling and delivery.
On the second day, a wider group of stakeholders attended the workshop. These development partners, such as the Ethiopian mission of the United Stages Agency for International Development (USAID), Farm Africa, SANREM, OXFAM etc., were invited to hear some ideas about the work from the project group and provide feedback on the plans.
At the end of the workshop, small project team worked on the concrete next steps to get the first phase to full completion: the research framework and planned activities, site selection, monitoring and evaluation, communication and engagement work.
This initial phase of Africa RISING has been challenging and very rich. The questions and issues remaining in the Ethiopian Highlands are a testimony to the challenging nature of such system-wide approaches, but also to its value (as a means to collectively understand and apprehend the subtleties of an integrated approach). And as any such complex process, next to the questions that arose in this and past workshops, the next step is all about action.