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Development Assistance and Research Capacity Strengthening: The Commissioning of Health Social Science Research in East Africa

By Keith Nurse | Institute for International Relations, University of the West Indies | 2006

Coauthor: Daniel Wight, Head, Social & Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow, Medical Research Council, UK


Research capacity strengthening (RCS) in health social science research is considered a key imperative to achieve health equity. Recent evidence suggests that the knowledge gap between the North and the South, particularly low income developing countries, is growing ever wider in spite of the prominence capacity development and RCS enjoy in development assistance policy.

This paper addresses this concern by analyzing the political economy of the prevailing modes of research commissioning among bilateral, multilateral, non-governmental and philanthropic organizations in East Africa (Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania). In doing so the paper shifts the lens from the conventional focus on recipient countries and institutions to look at the policies and practices of donor and commissioning agencies and the relationship they have with key stakeholders like Southern research institutions.

The research shows that the thinking on RCS has shifted towards partnership models but that this has generally not been translated into policy and action among most commissioning and donor agencies in the field. It can also be argued that the literature on RCS over-generalizes and constructs capacity development in monolithic terms.

In contrast, this study provides a typology of research commissioning practices and identifies eight different modes of engagement. The analysis suggests that the level of RCS relates to institutional type. The paper concludes with some recommendations for enhancing the role of donors and commissioning agencies in RCS.

Download: Development Assistance and Research Capacity Strengthening (PDF, 87.60 K)

Read More: Development, Health, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Africa

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