As IFPRI’s mandate makes clear, in order for the Institute’s well-communicated, evidence-based research to inform sound food policy decisions and have a lasting effect on the ground, the capacity to implement those policies and replicate research methods must be strong. The Partnership, Impact, and Capacity Strengthening Unit was formed in mid-2010 to streamline IFPRI’s activities in these areas and reinforce the Institute’s commitment to collaboration, accountability, and results.
In 2010, the new partnership team began developing an institutewide Partnership Strategy to facilitate the development of impact-enhancing partnerships. In collaboration with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Programme, the partnership unit also engaged in the first steps toward developing a food security information network aimed at enhancing the coordination and impact of food security information systems. Still in its early stages, this initiative is envisioned as a multistakeholder working group that facilitates full access to data, best practices, and collaborative action across borders by providing incentives to country and regional entities. The partnership team also focused on ways to improve smallholders’ access to markets and mitigate the effects of climate change through its continued partnership with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Finally, to support IFPRI’s interest and presence in the Middle East and North Africa, the team met with representatives from government agencies and nongovernmental organizations in Saudi Arabia and Egypt to explore areas of collaboration.
As the demand for IFPRI’s high-quality research on improving food policies in developing countries increases, so, too, does the need to know whether that research actually leads to the desired policy changes and whether those policy changes, in turn, bring about their intended economic, social, or environmental outcomes. In order to strengthen objectivity, an external coordinator was appointed in 2010 to oversee IFPRI’s ex post impact assessments, and a full-time researcher was appointed to develop staff training activities and help research teams build an evidence base over the life of a project. In the past year, impact assessments on the Priorities for Pro-Poor Public Investments global research program and the Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators initiative were completed; two new assessments—on the influences of (1) the Regional Network on AIDS, Livelihoods, and Food Security (RENEWAL) and (2) the 2020 Vision Initiative “Leveraging Agriculture for Improved Nutrition and Health” conference—began. The impact assessment team is developing a work plan for ex post impact assessments of large-scale, long-term IFPRI projects and will launch its first training events in 2011.
Learning and Capacity Strengthening Program
In 2010, the Learning and Capacity Strengthening Program took stock of the capacity-strengthening activities at the CGIAR level and developed a clear set of capacity-strengthening activities at both the Institute and CGIAR levels. In addition to other ongoing projects, the program began collecting and analyzing data on the organizational and human resources capacity for agricultural research in Nigeria, the effects of decentralization on the policymaking process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the potential for strengthening the agricultural extension system in India. In collaboration with Inwent (now part of the German Society for International Cooperation), IFPRI held an international workshop on how to monitor and evaluate activities aimed at strengthening capacity; priority research areas were identified and a set of indicators was developed to measure food policy capacity within individual countries.