The IITA commissioned external review of Africa RISING East and Southern Africa project concluded on 16 March after nearly five weeks of literature review, project stakeholder interviews and field visits to project sites in Tanzania and Malawi. While presenting their preliminary report at IITA Malawi office premises, the team of reviewers expressed satisfaction with majority of the ongoing research work, and also called for improvements in the integrated systems research approach by project partners involved in the project as well as strengthening of the innovation/R4D platforms facilitated by the project.
The reviewers also recommended a revision of some of the project indicators in the project document, an update of the Africa RISING ESA project logframe, a project-wide socio-economic analysis of the technology combinations being tested and promoted by the project as well as a stronger consideration of the gender component in all ongoing research activities.
“There is great progress being made in the project especially with the bio-physical research work being implemented by the scientists. Of course there are areas that we have pointed out for improvement, but really it has been impressive seeing for example the yield increases testified to by farmers as a result of some of the improved seed varieties or rotations in the doubled up legume systems introduced by the project. We think that the next step should now be to carry out an economic analysis of the technologies being promoted by the project to ensure that they are adoptable by farmers,” noted the lead reviewer, Jim Ellis-Jones.
The external review had been commissioned by IITA which leads the two Africa RISING projects in East/Southern Africa and West Africa with the objective of assessing the conformity of the implemented work with the research framework developed, evaluating how the project is fostering learning by the stakeholders, assessing partnerships and project management. Results of the review are expected to feed into the donor commissioned Program review later this year and the planning for the next project phase.
“This has been a very intense review. Thanks to everybody for making contributions to the review and being available. We will look at the recommendations carefully with interest and consult with the project donor, USAID, and see what adjustments are possible. Thank you for the reviewers for taking up the task. Your knowledge of the region was very helpful. We had a very capable team,” noted Irmgard Hoeschle-Zeledon, the Africa RISING Coordinator for the West Africa and East and Southern Africa Projects at the end of the debrief meeting.
A corresponding review of the Africa RISING West Africa Project was conducted in September/October 2014 – see the final report published.