Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Facilitating innovation platforms to trigger institutional change in West Africa

One finger cannot lift a rock. Facilitating innovation platforms to trigger institutional change in West Africa
Editors: Suzanne Nederlof, Rhiannon Pyburn 
© 2012, Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) 
ISBN 9789460221972 | KIT Publishers, Amsterdam | Paperback | 142 p. |  

There is growing consensus on the value of multi-stakeholder approaches to natural resource management, institutional change, poverty alleviation, climate-change mitigation and adaptation, and food security. Using such approaches to foster institutional change implies a special twist.

This book presents the hands-on experience of facilitators who have struggled at the coal face with this approach. We hope that others in this emerging profession will be able to learn from their experience.

The research programme Convergence of Sciences (CoS, 2002–6), funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, went through a learning process with respect to what determines opportunity for African smallholders. Typical for the time when it was conceived, CoS focused on participatory technology development in eight West African communities. The conclusion was that, yes, optimally appropriate technologies can help smallholders, but the institutional setting often makes them either impossible or unattractive to implement.

Smallholders face such small windows of opportunity that appropriate technology is often irrelevant. What emerged is that opportunity can be captured only by creating appropriate conditions, i.e., by tackling institutional factors.

At the time of writing, CoS-SIS still has two years to go. Its research is ongoing. So this book cannot deliver the programme’s final conclusions or report on institutional change. Instead, it describes the experiences of nine part-time “research associates”, who facilitate forums created by CoS-SIS, called “concertation and innovation groups”. These nine forums, one per facilitator, each deal with a topic area (or “domain”) in one of the three countries.

The production of this book has been co-funded by CoS-SIS and KIT. KIT’s contribution to this publication has been made possible thanks to core support received from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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