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Brainstorming meeting, Africa RISING End-of-Program Close-Out
08 April 2022
Virtual via MS TEAMS
[edit | edit source]


  1. Peter Thorne (PT)
  2. Jonathan Odhong' (JO)
  3. Fred Kizito (FK)
  4. Carlo Azzarri (CA)


Discussions[edit | edit source]

  • FK: Picking up from the brainstorming we did last year - https://africa-rising-wiki.net/2021learningeventbrainstorm . Cross-regional synthesis/analysis (the publications and materials being developed by the Chief Scientists) and documentation of successes (at project and program levels) are still important topics that we could focus on during the end-of-phase discussion. Technical briefs, short videos, podcasts – could be used as a brainstorming session about how we want the AR archive to look like at the end. But again, it may be better not to make the end-of-phase event not so heavily loaded.
  • PT: Regarding the audience. Should we be looking to invite people, we want to showcase our AR achievements to the event rather than looking to the internal AR crowd.
  • CA: The content of the meeting should be adapted to the audience…If it is more about looking at external (then the content should be more related to showcase).
  • JO: We were encouraged as much as possible to do an in-person event by Zach Stewart at the previous PCT.
  • FK: Thinking about an outward-looking audience, we could focus on the element that highlights “our claim to fame/achievements” around September/October 2022. We could before that have an internal learning event to precede the closeout event because it is not so easy to combine the meeting and focus on the need for both sets of audiences.
  • PT: The outward-looking event could be a webinar, while the internal event could remain as a physical (in-person) event.
  • JO: We are considering two events then, an internal (learning event) and an external looking/facing (closeout event). The internal event precedes the external one and would be used as a forum for generating material /content for the external event. We could link the external event to the Agrilinks seminars if need be, and there are interests in that.
  • JO: The context of how we can engage with the One CGIAR topic has also changed since our previous brainstorming last year. We were then focused on getting AR outputs taken up in the proposed initiatives. However, most of the Initiatives are well underway, so I guess the question is, how do we engage with that during such an event?
  • PT: There is a practical issue there, and maybe I will follow up with FK later. But, how do we use the remaining AR funding to underpin the startup of some of the Initiatives? This is something that we have discussed ab it at ILRI. Possibly trying to preserve the existing infrastructure…maybe that is for us to do within the initiative now.
  • FK: If we were to think about the learning event being internal, we could request colleagues to think about and identify points/critical issues that are likely to get missed out/low-hanging fruits/ springboards to the initiatives. In that way, we would then have had a presentation from colleagues on their thought process, and this would provide a good Segway to link from AR to the Initiatives. This has to be quite well structured and not haphazard.
  • PT: This topic will also come up in the initiative inception as the dynamics, the partnerships, and the leadership are all changing. And some things will transfer quite quickly, but other things may have to change significantly.
  • FK: One of the ways we do this is to make it easier for colleagues to make some forward-looking presentations…e.g., In the context of SIAF, what challenges have we faced? What were the key lessons? And which partnerships are you looking to work with? Each center/entity will probably need to have these discussions in-house, and then we reflect those back to a broader meeting.
  • JO: We could hitch this kind of discussion in the context of framing what worked so well in AR; what would be the best to carry forward to the SI-MFS Initiative?
  • CA: I also think it is possible to have a 3-day event, where the first two days are focused on the learnings from Africa RISING (Internal audience-focused) and the third day focused on showcasing key outputs from Africa RISING (involving and focusing more on the external audiences) to capitalize on the lessons. How can we leverage the outcomes generated into the One CGIAR initiatives and other players within the global development arena?
  • CA: The presentations on day one and two don’t need to go down into all the work done in the regions, but we could focus more on bigger picture highlights and synthesis actions.
  • PT: I would hope that our focus during this event would concentrate more on some of our bigger picture strategic messages than smaller project-based activities. For example, how to conduct research, the broader implications of SI as an approach for agricultural development, and not a load of “fertilizer trials” that we have done in some of the project activities. These should be generalizable messages. E.g. the presentation by the Chief Scientists works on research partnerships. I know some of our researchers like the opportunities to present and detailed look at a piece of research, so a compromise could be to have some of that very nitty, gritty research highlighted on the first day. The second day focused on the big picture day of reflection. On the third day, we look at how to move forward with the key outputs from AR.
  • FK: I am concerned that having a day dedicated entirely to everyone presenting what they have done would be difficult to draw common lessons. So rather than go for the nitty-gritty, we could have some of the bigger picture items highlighted in the outline for the end-of-phase report and then assign researchers to work in groups and tease out differences in perspectives on common grounds.
  • PT: We could use the very interactive techniques that Peter Ballantyne was always keen on

  • FK: We could have thematic discussions around partnerships (how to take research to farmers/deliver more effectively, data monitoring experiences), systems processes and thinking SIAF (incl. work by Peter & Jim Hammond), Ex-ante analysis, and return on investment (Carlo)
  • PT: We could also base it around a set of questions: What are the unique selling points for SI? Why would you want to pursue it as opposed to other approaches?
  • JO: Last year, we mentioned the need to reflect on our research questions and what we achieved. Is there still an appetite for that discussion?
  • PT: We have made progress against most research questions from different sources…corroborating evidence from different projects. So, we could have it.
  • FK: By inference, the research questions are embedded in the discussions that we have proposed.
  • JO: We will probably need to offer some strict but clear guidelines for the day one presentations regarding the depth of information we would like to see.
  • FK: Two/three presentations from regions to show casework that has been done. These would mainly be day one. These could be the critical studies from each project.
  • FK: On day three, could we have a panel of 3/4 people transitioning AR outputs into the One CGIAR Initiatives and others beyond?
  • FK: We could plan for the end of October 2022.
  • PT: For Ethiopia, we approached USAID for an end date in December 2022.
  • CA: end of October 2022 would be good.
  • FK: There doesn’t seem to be added value to integrating field visits for this event.