African Development Bank Supports Top CORAF/WECARD Projects
Why competitive grants?
Competitive grants programs are being increasingly employed to raise the quality of research programs in the developing world. The African Development Bank recently provided competitive-grant funds to be awarded and administered through CORAF/WECARD, West/Central Africa's sub-regional framework and coordinating body for agricultural research.
DMP partners were highly successful in the competition. A consortium of CGIAR Centers (ICRISAT and TSBF-CIAT), a regional research institute on adaptation to drought in Africa (CERAAS-Senegal), national agricultural research institutes (INERA, Burkina Faso; INRAN, Niger; and IER, Mali), and development project teams and non-governmental organizations prepared and submitted four proposals. These organizations are also engaged in the DMP, so the close relationships will continue. Three were approved by CORAF/WECARD for funding:
The three successful proposals were submitted to CORAF within the DMP framework and agenda, addressing constraints of low soil fertility and drought. The successful national partners (Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Senegal) as well as the two successful CGIAR Centers (ICRISAT and TSBF-CIAT) are DMP members. In turn, these three projects also add to the co-funding of DMP.
During the working group sessions, it was strongly suggested that these three projects should be sited as much as possible in the DMP benchmark sites to enhance synergies between the CORAF projects and DMP.
Working it out
To begin the implementation of these projects, a workshop with 22 participants was organized at CERAAS' research station at Thies, Senegal (near Dakar) from 31 May to 03 June 2005 to share knowledge and experiences, harmonize methodologies, develop project documents, and agree on roles and responsibilities.
The meeting was structured around presentations and working groups. Over the course of two days, each working group was given specific terms of reference and expected outputs. Group I on fertilizer micro-dosing was chaired by Ramadjita Tabo; Group II on rock phosphate was led by Andre Bationo; and Group III on Water harvest & nutrient management was guided by Mahamadou Gandah. [Photo: rock phosphate working group in action]. The working groups recommended that the projects should be located in DMP benchmark sites.
Summing it up
During the last day of the meeting, which was attended by the Executive Secretary of CORAF/WECARD, Dr Paco Sereme, the reports of the three working groups were presented. The reports detailed the methods and approaches to be used; the technologies to be disseminated and the methods of dissemination; the roles of each partner; monitoring and evaluation, and other relevant information. François Lompo and the heads of finance and administration of CERAAS also provided guidelines on administrative and financial reporting for these projects. [Photo below: water harvesting working group in session].
Project partners left with a clear understanding of the objectives, methods and approaches to be used, and of each other's the roles and responsibilities. Dr Sereme expressed his delight at seeing such consortia formed around very important topics of research and development in the semi-arid zones, and CORAF/WECARD will provide as much support as possible.