After staring at his computer screen for 30 minutes and unconsciously listening to the sounds of political unrest in the streets of Bujumbura, Burundi’s national facilitator of Humidtropics still had not written a single word for his May 2015 report. He turned his chair and looked through the window, but his mind was somewhere else. It was in the Highlands of Gitega, with the research for development activities that had been implemented half-a-year ago, and with the farmers hosting these and awaiting him to give guidance. He thought back to the many signs of success and lessons learned that he had experienced during the last months. The fragile political situation in Burundi had somewhat disrupted the multi-stakeholder process, and, despite their efforts and well thought out action plans, most field activities had been postponed. But no – he thought to himself – this was not how it was going to be. He was not going to sit back when things were finally taking shape. He was going to make a difference! And with this thought, the national facilitator turned back his chair to his computer screen and wrote just seven words on the document called ‘Monthly updates for Humidtropics Burundi, May 2015’: We had the courage to go on!
Since early 2014, multi-stakeholder platforms at (sub)national and field site level have been established under Humidtropics/CIALCA in Central Africa. Multi-stakeholder platforms form part of a strategy to facilitate demand-driven research for development to achieve development outcomes at scale. But multi-stakeholder processes are complex, and there is still limited knowledge about their success factors and pathways towards impact.
To capture the processes and lessons learned within Humidtropics, three case studies have been developed around multi-stakeholder platforms in Burundi, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The Burundian case study shows the potential of platform-led innovation projects combined with active local level engagement. The Rwandese case study provides insight into the importance of showing good results in the field, as well as in how different management of local level platforms can result in different platform dynamics. The Congolese case study demonstrates the potential of joint reflection and facilitation to enhance self-organization of platform members to integrate activities in a specific region.
For each case study, different stakeholders have given their view on the process and this is contrasted with a more neutral description of the steps taken. At the end, key reflections and lessons learned are listed aiming to inform future platform processes. The three case studies are now available online (click on the images below).
Blog by Dieuwke Lamers, R4D and Innovation Platforms Specialist, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)/Wageningen University (WUR), and Marc Schut, Social Scientist, IITA/WUR. Blog edited by Valérie Poiré, Communication Officer, Humidtropics.