Africa RISING PCT meeting

4 April 2017


Bernard Vanlauwe (BV) - chair
Siboniso Moyo (SM)
Peter Thorne (PT)
Irmgard Hoeschle-Zeledon (IHZ)
Carlo Azzarri (CA)
Jerry Glover (JG)
Ewen Le Borgne (ELB)

PCT page
PCT follow-up action points

  1. (NEW) PCT-SAG meeting 22-23 June 2017, Arusha
  2. Plans for cross-project visits and exchanges (perhaps linked to the COPs)
  3. Plans for champions for each major program-wide element and development plans: Si framework, typologies, scaling, program analysis and research questions, capacity development, data management, gender ...
  4. How do we define and measure 'reach' across the projects and the program. Critical for the phase 2 targets.
  5. Data sharing: data sharing ethics, sharing and guidelines among project partners.
    1. Action: Each project coordinator to contact centre Legal/IP specialists for advice. Discuss at March PCT (PCT22)
  6. Update on recruitments of Comms specialist (the additional position, not Peter’s replacement)
  7. Update on phase 1 summary document.


Organise PCT-SAG meeting in Arusha (TZ) in June

Good response from the SAG - nobody declined (except Jim Ellis + Colettah Chisike)

Summary: Main purpose of the meeting is to introduce Africa RISING to new SAG members and to discuss CoPs outcomes with the champions. 1.5 days of common meeting, 0.5 day of parallel PCT/SAG meeting and coming back together for one hour. A small team will move this forward (CA, IHZ, PT, ELB).

IHZ: Major purpose is to make new SAG members acquainted with Africa RISING. Presentations required + sending documents upfront to them.
  • 1.5 days with them, 0.5 day among themselves. In parallel PCT meeting face-to-face.
  • Link CoPs with SAG members so they can advise CoPs.
ELB: We need to focus on the agenda design etc.
PT: Main focus is on the CoPs. We need to get moving with them.
IHZ: I think the focus is rather on getting SAG members acquainted with the program.
PT: Perhaps the first morning could be about AR phase 2 (and differences vs. phase 1). Then we move onto CoPs and priority focus areas. And use this meeting as a stick to ask CoPs to come up with outputs etc. by June.
BV: CoPs are a first exposure to research etc. but that requires some homework.
ACTION: ELB to chase CoP champions for their participation
SM: Getting SAG members introduced to AR and CoP focus are the most important things.
PT: Use one hour back at the end to come back together between SAG and PCT.
ACTION: ELB to work with PT, IHZ, CA on design. Thursday afternoon. Consider engagement process with champions.

Plans for cross-project visits and exchanges (perhaps linked to the COPs)

Summary: A good mechanism from phase 1, much appreciated. The chief scientists will be working on this and try to connect this with CoPs, annual event etc.

IHZ: Is it an idea to revive these exchange visits which worked out so well in phase 1? Mali team interested in going to Ghana this year.
BV: Please specify what you talk about
IHZ: Identify a specific topic e.g. doubled-up legumes in Malawi etc.
ELB: Possibly turn this into a competition among CoPs for ideas about cross-project visits etc. to see what are the best ideas?
BV: Links to CoPs could also be explored - discuss this F2F?
PT: Use the annual meeting opportunity for this? e.g. Chief scientists talking about a summit in May. Perhaps they should be the ones identifying opportunities. We need to formalise a process. There should be regularly identified opportunities.
BV: Use the chief scientist summit to think about possible ideas for this + explore links with CoPs and with annual event. Feedback on this expected for the event in June.
SM: Look into other existing events etc. to just add a day rather than creating brand new events.
ACTION: IHZ/PT to challenge chief scientists on this.

Plans for champions for each major program-wide element and development plans: Si framework, typologies, scaling, program analysis and research questions, capacity development, data management, gender ...

Summary: These are 'CoPs light'. Program-wide elements need to have someone as 'focal point' that can answer internal/external questions and makes sure that the theme doesn't fall between the cracks.

SM: At the end of proposal development we said it'd be good to have such champions for these program-wide elements, to take that work further. Perhaps we can just think about someone looking after each of these topics e.g.
  • BV/PT for SI framework,
  • Jeroen and CA for typologies,
  • ?? on scaling - overlapping with CoP... remove from this list?
  • CA and chief scientists on program analysis and research questions
  • Iddo on CapDev (until further notice),
  • CA/Beliyou on data management,
  • Annet/Gundula on gender,
BV: call these people 'focal points'. Their ToR are not clear for now
PT: maintaining the profile of these issues across the program as a whole
IHZ: if someone has a question (external/internal inquiries) they should be the person to answer that - at events and otherwise
CA: We identified research questions in the program document and inside that we're trying to design research activities that try to answer these questions. The chief scientists should be involved in this.
SM: Would be good to check occasionally how these themes are doing also.

How do we define and measure 'reach' across the projects and the program. Critical for the phase 2 targets

Summary: Much unclarity on what we mean with 'reach' and related measures. Africa RISING could try and take the thought leadership on this, beyond just the program. Very much related to the scaling CoP too. Tabled for the next PCT meeting.

BV: In N2 Africa we are over-targeting in terms of 'reach' ie. number of households to reach and under-targeting in terms of changing practice eg. people buying improved seeds, doing agronomy differently etc.
JG: It'd be good to better refine and define what we mean by use, uptake, reach etc. If AR could be the thought leader on this issue which involves multiple terms to clarify, that would be terrific!
BV: Agree! All scaling projects are suffering from this. We can spend more time on this in the PCT f2f meeting in June. We also need to agree on how we advance with targets.
JG: What about the CoP on scaling? Task them to come up with a position paper on this with reasonable definitions and M&E etc.?
BV: The agenda should be driven by CoPs etc. so we need to be sensitive and careful about this.
PT: In the umbrella document we distinguished classes of targets. If we take this to the next level we should build upon this.
BV: This is critical and along the lines of the SI framework. It's novel and adding value so we agree we need to invest in this.
JG: The SIIL is taking an 'uptake results' survey and it's an issue that needs very broad consideration. It'd be great to extend beyond the AR CoP on scaling and get AR to be thought leader much more broadly on this e.g. international conference on 'uptake'? On the process that leads to uptake etc. There's a real need for that!
BV: It needs a bit more homework on this. In July, meeting on uptake/reach etc. on NRM technologies in Nairobi. ACTION: BV to share details about that event. Put this on the agenda of the June PCT/SAG meeting (1h) to understand who's doing what about this etc. Anyone that has some background info about this could prepare it for the June meeting etc.

Data sharing: data sharing ethics, sharing and guidelines among project partners

Summary: An issue at MSU about sharing identifier information which makes program-wide analysis impossible for IFPRI and others. This requires only little effort to get cracked. Jerry will talk to Sieg (MSU) and chief scientists will brainstorm how to go about this.

(Past) Action: Each project coordinator to contact centre Legal/IP specialists for advice. Discuss at March PCT (PCT22)

CA: The idea is to carry our work forward on evaluating the impact of various technologies. We are planning midline surveys this summer. We need to know the names/locations of AR farmers. This is raising an alarm because no identifying information can be shared with anybody. If we don't have this information on the other hand, we just can't do it. We should come up with a policy that states that all researchers in AR should share identifying information with colleagues in the program but not outside the program. For some institutions this is problematic because they follow another policy. E.G. we (IFPRI) also have our identifier information and people who want access to this information are technically not able to get it. But one of us at each institution could be the custodian of the look-up files with identifier information. This is what we are working on. There is a worksheet in the BTTT that contains that information. Once we have an ID associated with each farmer, we could use that ID but with new farmers we don't have new ID.
JG: This is an MSU institutional issue, not a team issue?
CA: Yes, correct.
IHZ: I talked to an IITA colleague who works with MSU too who said that so long as it stays within the project it's ok. It's also our IITA internal policy. There should be that information in a separate file and that should be given to a restricted list of people who ensure confidentiality.
BV: It would be a pity if we can't create added value because of a rule. There can't be any good reason not to share.
JG: This has big implications for program-wide analysis. I'm fully supporting a culture of collaboration and having a firm line on this.
IHZ: MSU signed a contract with IITA saying they adhere to our internal policy and that's renewed every year, lastly in Jan. It's not explicitly mentioned in our data management policy so they could point to this. Best might be to get an official communication from MSU to explain how they handle this data sharing.
ACTION: JG to discuss with Sieg Snapp about this issue - based on background from IHZ and CA.
JG: This has links with manuscript preparations for journals. I have seen a number of them and I'm pretty sure that some of these manuscripts were not shared more widely with chief scientists etc. It would be nice if along with data sharing plans there were guidelines for reviewing manuscripts etc. This would ensure there are more and better quality papers. It's a lost opportunity.
BV: Right now we don't have that in Africa RISING. It's simple hygiene. We can discuss this in June at the f2f PCT meeting. Shouldn't be postponed beyond this.
PT: Chief scientists can advise on this also.
ACTION: PT/IHZ to discuss this issue with chief scientists to come up with suggestions for how to tackle this issue on manuscripts.

Update on recruitment of Comms specialist (the additional position, not Peter’s replacement)

Summary: Short list shared with Peter B. New panel developed and status of Peter B to clarify.

SM: the recruitment process is at the stage of shorlisting. ILRI HR sent that list to Peter B who should be looking into this shortly. The final 3 should be invited.
CA/IHZ/PT should also be involved in this.
BV: We can't afford to wait on this. Agreement on the panel?
ACTION: ELB to discuss with PB and come back to group etc.
BV: Interview process will follow this. When do you want the person to join?
SM: It all depends on the availability of the candidates - but hopefully we identify these by end April.

Update on phase 1 summary document

Summary: Lies with Peter B. Boni will folllow up with him on this.

BV: PB was involved with this too. This needs to come out of this year. Parked for June.
ACTION: SM to check with PB about this.