On May 12, 2020, at the University of California (UC) Davis, Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Markets, Risk and Resilience (MRR Innovation Lab) announced the award of a five-year research grant to the International Centre for Evaluation and Development (ICED) to lead the implementation of MRR Innovation Lab’s Advancing Local Leadership, Innovation and Networks (ALL IN) in Africa.
ALL IN is a new research program that aims to advance host country leadership in defining and implementing research projects and to deepen host country connections. The research will develop and test financial and market innovations that take the most promising agricultural tools for families in developing economies from the lab to the field.
ALL IN is designed to address capacity gaps among many research institutions in managing large and complex awards (particularly the unique complexities of managing the United States Agency for International Development awards). The program builds on the successes and draws on the strength of US-African research collaborations, but inverts the traditional model. ALL IN will call for researchers at African institutions to take the lead in defining priorities and will work with US university research partners to supplement their own skills, talents, and ideas.
Over the years, Feed the Future Innovation Labs has been built on partnerships between researchers at U.S. universities and researchers at host-country universities and institutions. Historically, these partnerships have been led, in both program administration and the ideas that drive the research, from the U.S. ALL IN will seek to shift this leadership role to researchers in Africa.
ICED CAPACITY TO SERVE AS REGIONAL HUB for ALL IN
ICED was established in 2016 to nurture leadership and innovation in impact evaluation for development by mobilizing the emergent capacity of African universities and research institutions. ICED is positioned to bridge the gap that can exist between the capacity of an innovative researcher to conduct high-quality research and the capacity of that researcher’s institution to manage a large and complex research project, allowing us to award significant funding to innovative host-country based researchers to lead a research project.
ICED currently have a memorandum of understandings (MOU) with research institutions in Africa such as the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research in the University of Ghana; the School of Graduate Studies, Research & Extension of the United States International University (USIU-Africa) in Nairobi, Kenya; The University of Nairobi Institute for Climate Change and Adaptation, Kenya, Nairobi; The School of Agricultural Economics and Business Studies, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Morogoro, Tanzania; Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda; and The Ethiopian Economic Policy Research Institute, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. ICED has plans to widen the network to most of the research institutions in Africa.
ICED has also developed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with selected Africa country government ministries to promote research and evaluation for policy-making and action. ICED currently has MOU with the Ghana Government Ministry of Monitoring and Evaluation, The commissioner of M&E, office of the Prime Minister, Uganda, The State Ministry of Planning, Department of M&E, Kenya National Treasury and Planning, The Planning Commission, Malawi, and The Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, Puntland, State of Somalia.
ICED has been championing the evidence to action movement in Africa through its annual Evidence to Action conference (E2A) which has created an excellent platform for researchers, academics, private sector practitioners, development agencies, civil society and policy makers to learn, share information, build networks and partnerships with the overall objective of identifying effective strategies and interventions for ensuring data generated from research and evaluation projects is well utilized.
Therefore, as an African-based and African-led research institution, ICED is a natural choice to lead ALL IN based on its experience in nurturing leadership and innovation in impact evaluation for development and its ability to mobilize the emergent capacity of African universities and research institutions
ICED hopes that this research initiative and the innovations and interventions that emerge, will in turn boost the capacity of various African governments to design sound evidence-based policies that will cause positive development outcomes in the continent.