In response to recommendations made in the 2008 DFID-commissioned mid-term review, a significant change management process has taken place in the year under report. A new slim-line and decentralized management structure has been put in place during the reporting period: management now consists of a director (Ian Maudlin
) and deputy director (Andy Frost
), supported by a small decentralized support team.
A significant component of the change management process was the creation of a small Central Research Team (CRT) in September 2009, given the responsibility for developing and retro-fitting a research design and for taking the lead on formal learning within the programme. The team comprises lead researchers for the Africa Country Programme (Jeroen Dijkman
), Best Bets (Norman Clark
) and Asia Programme (Rasheed Sulaiman V
). Six Research Fellows have been recruited to undertake studies of specific elements of RIU experiments and research themes. The fellows are located in India, Nepal, Kenya (2), Malawi and Nigeria. The head of the CRT (Andy Hall
) bridges the research of the two regions and provides an interface with global debates, the RIU management team and complementary RIU activities, such as impact assessment and communication.
The RIU research design aims to answer the overarching question:
what configurations of actors, policies and institutions, under what circumstances and at what point in the innovation trajectory allow agricultural research to contribute to innovation and development?
The cornerstone of RIU’s research design is the recognition that there is a diversity of ways of putting research into use for innovation and development. The research design employs six innovation narratives as a framework for organising the evidence RIU collects about what approaches and patterns of partnership help put research into use and under what conditions. The lessons derived from the analysis of this evidence will help public policy and development practice choose appropriate research into use strategies for different innovation and development settings. This research will also identify research and innovation investment opportunities for both development organisations and the private sector, highlighting the patterns of partnership and organisational and institutional formats needed to operationalize these for the benefit of poor people. The six innovation narratives are:
- Poor user-led innovation
- Public-private partnership-led innovation
- Capacity development-led innovation
- Opportunity-led innovation
- Investment-led innovation
- Research communication-led innovation
During the year, much more authority has been delegated to the six countries which make up the Africa Country Programme. This included establishing flexibility funds in each country to enable them to pursue promising leads and developments with minimum delays and bureaucracy. This funding option has already paid dividends; for example, two very promising activities are currently being funded under this system – commercializing indigenous poultry in Tanzania and value-chain development for rice in Zambia.
An expert and supporting specialists are currently being recruited to take the lead in impact evaluation of the RIU programme. It is envisaged that impact will be considered under one of five themes: poverty, social, process, capacity and policy-level impacts.
This change management process was endorsed by the recent Annual Review of the programme and the recommendations of this review are currently being implemented.
In terms of financial expenditure, the RIU attained its full predicted spend of £8.43m. Problematic issues associated with the finances, as evident in previous reports, have been resolved and the creation of adequate imprests for overseas partners has allowed field activities to progress well. One work area, the Malawi Country Programme, has had problems with financial spend this year and has been investigated and improvements are now being seen. The pattern of expenditure over the quarters was, naturally, influenced by the change management process taking place. As a consequence a number of activities have been brought to a close as reflected in the reduction of costs associated with the earlier impact evaluation work and a decline in management costs, Conversely, a number of activities have commenced as a result of the new management arrangements, e.g. the establishment of the CRT and start-up of the Best Bet portfolio. One of the Best Bet initiatives, the work on controlling sleeping sickness in Uganda, has also attracted £1 million funding from BBSRC to extend its activities to Nigeria. It is hoped that this type of multiplier funding will be more commonplace over the next year. The pattern of expenditure is summarised in Annex 2