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July/August 2003

Announcement of publication

Impact of foreign study assistance on institutional development of national agricultural research systems in Sub-Saharan Africa

Research and technology paper 10

This study is the analysis and assessment of foreign assistance provided by 36 agricultural research projects in seven selected countries of Sub-Saharan Africa. It traces the evolution of NARS from independence to present. It highlights the infrastructure, human resources and funding development of the NARS as a consequence of foreign assistance. The constraints to NARS institutional development are identified and recommendations to overcoming them are made.

The study covered the four major developing countries' regions: sub-Saharan Africa, West Asia and North Africa, Asia and the Pacific and Latin America and the Caribbean. More emphasis was given to sub-Saharan Africa. The findings for this region are presented in this publication.

Overall, the conclusion for the study is that the basis for institutional development is present in all countries, albeit after experiencing various periods of expansion, contraction, restructuring and downsizing. Agricultural research management has been improved at all levels (policy formulation, planning, organizing, evaluation and controlling, etc.). Adequate bodies have been established, but proper functioning of these is more uncertain. Human resources have improved in quality and quantity. Most governments have also striven to improve incentive schemes as well as a better research environment. Staff attrition is, however, still high. Strategic planning, priority setting and programme budgeting and management are routinely performed in the national agricultural research institutions (NARIs). The master-planning process has had an important and significant effect in institutionalizing priority-setting mechanisms in NARS. It has also been helpful in aligning agricultural research with national development objectives.

However, sustainable funding remains the Achilles' heel of NARS, particularly for non-staff related costs. After four decades of NARS development through expansion, restructuring and downsizing, the time has come for consolidation. This cannot take place without sustainable funding. Sole reliance on donor funding is not a long-term solution. Diversifying domestic sources of funding through resolute evaluation of all potential sources of funding mechanisms, could be one option. This, however, depends on African resolve, African political leadership and aggressive indigenous resource mobilization.

It is expected that recommendations made to government national policy-makers, NARS leaders and their development partners, at all levels, will have a positive impact on their continued effort to built sustainable national agricultural research institutions, capable of delivering the needed environmentally friendly technologies to eradicate hunger and malnutrition.

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