Building resilient livelihoods in the drylands of Africa: Considering the theoretical, methodological, and policy challenges for BRECcIA, a UK Global Challenge Research Fund (GCRF) project

Authors: Matt Kandel*, University of Southampton
Topics: Development, Africa, Arid Regions
Keywords: Resilience, drylands, Africa, capacity development
Session Type: Lightning Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Roosevelt 5, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Building Research capacity for sustainable water and food security in the drylands of sub-saharan Africa (BRECcIA) is a four-year (2018-21) UK Global Challenge Research Fund (GCRF) interdisciplinary project that is led by the University of Southampton. BRECcIA aims to co-design and co-produce impact-oriented research with stakeholders and communities as well as strengthen existing research capabilities in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi. Linked to the Resilience and Capacity Building themes on the project, I am collaborating with colleagues in Ghana, Kenya, and the UK on a participatory learning and action research and capacity building program in Upper East region of Ghana and Kitui County in Kenya. We are in the process of planning community-engaged research around agroforestry and climate finance development interventions in Ghana and Kenya, respectively. Our capacity building program includes skills training for local researchers, some of whom will conduct research linked to BRECcIA. One of the questions motivating our research is the following: Do these interventions value the variability of drylands?

This presentation seeks to encourage debate and solicit ideas on overcoming theoretical, methodological, and practical challenges to conducting applied research in drylands within a multi-country, interdisciplinary research consortia project. For example, is it possible to genuinely co-produce research with communities and stakeholders? What sorts of challenges might arise when embedding research in development interventions? How can a team of community-engaged, qualitative/participatory researchers develop strong collaborations with natural science colleagues who typically focus on higher scale biophysical factors and are not necessarily as familiar with action research approaches?

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