Initially conceived as three regional projects working in similar ways, inception workshops revealed strong potential synergies as well as opportunities to deliver greater impacts through adoption of consistent approaches and cross-learning through a joint Africa RISING program.
In Phase I (2011 – 16), Africa RISING identified, adapted, validated and deployed relevant, innovative farming technologies for sustainable intensification in Eastern and Southern Africa (Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia), the Ethiopian Highlands and in West Africa (Ghana and Mali). The three projects were each evaluated in late 2015 and early 2016. The evaluations were generally positive, providing useful feedback, insights and recommendations for the second phase of the program. Phase II (2016–21) of Africa RISING is now focused on working to scale the innovations validated in Phase I to at least 1.1 million households by 2021 and implement more research-in-development activities.
Key elements of the approach taken during phase I included a demand-driven focus to identify entry points for SI with the potential to move to scale; a focus primarily on the household level but not excluding researchable constraints at the landscape level; addressing, in parallel, issues in the wider enabling environment (markets, institutions and policies) through the establishment of broad-based multi-stakeholder platforms.
The second phase of Africa RISING mixes continuity with evolutionary change. The action research partners—IITA and ILRI—continue leading the program, which retains its geographic focus on Mali, Ghana, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia. IFPRI continues to lead on data management, monitoring and impact assessment. Partners in the different countries are therefore applying lessons learned, where appropriate, to improve the program’s ways of operating (for example in terms of cross-project harmonization).