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OSSREA Ranks in Nine Categories in the 2014 Global Go To Think Tanks Ranking Index

The Organisation for Social Science Research in Eastern and Southern Africa (OSSREA) has featured very well in nine categories in the 2014 Global Go To Think Tanks Ranking Index. The categories are:

  1. Top Think Tanks Worldwide (U.S. and non-U.S.);
  2. Top Think Tanks in Sub-Saharan Africa;
  3. Top Health Policy Think Tanks;
  4. Top Global Health Policy Think;
  5. Top International Economic Policy Think Tanks;
  6. Top Social Policy Think Tanks;
  7. Best Managed Think Tanks;
  8. Think Tanks with the Best Use of the Internet; and

9.      Think Tanks with the Most Significant Impact on Public Policy,

This is the third straight year for the Organisation to feature in the rankings. The previous year, it ranked in seven categories; it is energising that it ranked in two more categories in 2014. The OSSREA Secretariat acknowledges all those who enabled and helped OSSREA to achieve such heart-warming recognition.

 

OSSREA Attends the Knowledge Platform Meeting on Inclusive Development

 

Professor Mihyo, the Executive Director of the Organisation for Social Science Research in Eastern and Southern Africa (OSSREA), attended the of the Platform for Knowledge Platform Meeting on Inclusive Development of the Ministry of  Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, which took place on the 20th and 21st October 2014.

Quoting the Chair of the Platform Professor Rob Bijl, Professor Mihyo reported that the objective of the meeting was to bring together all the teams that had successfully secured grants and those which have started research. It was also intended to seek the advice of the platform members 75% of whom are based in African institutions on how best to make the platform successful.

The platform discussed, among other things, that principles that should govern research should be relevance of the research topics to the objectives of the platform: poverty reduction and inclusive development; topics’ being based on serious policy engagement; coming up with practical solutions in research results ensuring research uptake. The keynote address by the Director of Research from The Ministry of Labour in Kenya Mr. Isaac Ombuki focused on the policy making processes in Kenya, and indicated that researchers could advise on whether these interventions were working or not. Robert Jan Scheirs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Netherlands welcomed the participants and explained how policies were made in The Netherlands.

The Executive Director of the African Economic Research Consortium Professor Lemma Woldesenbet explained that there are three dimensions of AERC activities: capacity development, knowledge development and knowledge sharing. He added the network was formed to ensure informed policy making.

A presentation by Ms. Josine indicated that HIVOS (Humanist Institute for Cooperation in full, Dutch: Humanistisch Instituut voor Ontwikkelingssamenwerking) had a research programme and different strategies for dissemination of different outputs that could be shared with policy makers. Dr. Nicholas Awortwi of PASGR presented on research uptake based on PASGR’s experience, which included supply-driven approach, demand-driven approach, and stakeholders mapping. A presentation from WOTRO (Netherlands Foundation for the Advancement of Tropical Research) stated that it managed the platform funds and processes applications. It also worked through administrative measures to see if there could be research uptake; and the platform was said to be a forum for streamlining the practices.

 Prof. Mihyo also indicated that there was also panel presentation by Research Consortia which had been awarded grants. The consortia introduced themselves, their topics and strategies for uptake.

The OSSREA Executive Director indicated that he also consulted with the Rector and Deputy Rector for Research and Academic Affairs of the Institute of Social Studies (ISS) on the intended training courses for Members of Parliament in Kenya. At this meeting, which was attended also by Dr. Nicholas Awortwi, the ISS expressed keen interest in working with OSSREA and CPST in Kenya on capacity development for Members of Parliament and Members of County Assemblies. It was agreed ISS would provide materials on available courses that would be tailored to the needs of the trainees; and ISS and OSSREA would provide a number of trainers for each course and the teams would jointly develop courses and course materials including case studies.

 

 

OSSREA Takes Part in the Inter-Parliamentary Relations Seminar of the East African Legislative Assembly

Professor Paschal Mihyo, the Ex-Executive Director of OSSREA was invited as a keynote speaker at the Inter-Parliamentary Relations Seminar of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA). He  noted that the theme of the workshop held 31st October –1st November, 2014 in Rwanda Kigali was ‘Insecurity and Terrorism as Threats to EAC Integration: How the EAC Can Develop and Common Position’. In the keynote speech, he raised the following issues.

·    Terrorism is exerting severe impacts on stock markets in the region, affecting tourism, national cohesion, sovereignty, military expenditure, social services expenditure, the regional integration process, and human life in general.

·    There are different types of terrorism, such as ethnic terrorism, eco-terrorism, bio-terrorism, technological terrorism (and catastrophic), radiological terrorism, infrastructure terrorism, and cyber-terrorism, with different manifestations.

·    Possible common positions and strategies in the region include: reforming research, training and security; diplomatic responses; community and inter-community dialogue; and improvements in systems engineering;  strengthening bio-safety systems; keeping a watch on failed states; combining human and state security; involving communities in security issues; exercising care in land transfers; taking measures to raise youth employment; reducing levels of illiteracy; re-writing history books to reduce distortions of history and ethnic biases; discouraging ethic media; combating corruption; and strengthening democratic governance.

Other than attending the Assembly Seminar, Professor Mihyo also met with the Rwanda Minister of Education Professor Silas Lwakabamba and held a follow up on the earlier discussions with he and Professor Musahara had with the Minister. Professor Mihyo and Professor Lwakabamba agreed on the following:

·    The Minister would keep on supporting OSSREA and help it to work closely with the University of Rwanda, several Ministries and the Rwanda Parliament;

·    OSSREA would develop a proposal on RESSEA in Rwanda; short courses on science, technology and innovation, parliamentary issues and trade facilitation; an MA curriculum on management and post-conflict reconstruction; and a few other courses on demand.

·    To enable the Minister to support OSSREA, it was suggested that a document be developed which outlines intended activities and modalities of their implementation with a road map and it be sent to him. Professor Mihyo reported that he thereon indicated OSSREA had already developed such a road map and would send it immediately.

Furthermore, Professor Mihyo reported his having had a meeting with Professor Verdiana Masanja, the Director of Research at the University of Rwanda and also a focal point of RESSESA. They discussed the need to organize advanced research methodology courses for PhD students and refresher courses for supervisors of postgraduate students.  Professor Mihyo said they also agreed that:

·    OSSREA could come in training of trainers on advanced research methodology courses for PhD students and refresher courses for supervisors of postgraduate students, tasks for which Professor Masanja, indicated that there were funds for such courses, and on which the University of Rwanda had already developed its own curriculum;

·    There would be a call for tenders to train trainers and OSSREA could submit a tender. To do that effectively, the MoU signed a few years ago between OSSREA and National University of Rwanda would now be replaced by one between OSSREA and the University of Rwanda. Accordingly, they agreed that OSSREA would draft and send to the University of Rwanda a new MOU document and after that other processes would follow.

 

 

OSSREA Participates in the UNFPA Consultation on Developing the Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Research Agenda

OSSREA was invited to be part of the UNFPA Consultation on Developing the Regional Research Agenda for the Regional Programme in the context of ICPD beyond 2014 and post-2015 development agenda for Eastern and Southern Africa Region. The event was held in Johannesburg, South Africa, 12th–14th, November 2014. Dr. Richmond Tiemoko welcomed the delegates. In her opening remarks, the Regional Director of UNFPA stated that:

·      UNFPA developed a new approach in the way it worked, which included partnering with those at the centre of generating knowledge.

·      UNFPA was interested in tapping the expertise and knowledge of various stakeholders, especially academic and research institutions (think tanks).

·      UNFPA was re-looking at the CAIRO Agenda (ICPD) in terms of principles and plan of action. It was found that many countries had not put in place plans of action relating to sexual rights and human rights. They therefore needed to engage with governments. Further, many countries lacked evidence on various issues, especially the relationship between fertility and economic growth. Evidence, it was said, was critical because it could change a political ideological discourse and that trend analysis and scenario setting should be the focal points of researchers.

·      Post-2015 would require quality research, data revolution for accountability and policy making. It was reported that there was also a need for data on inequalities of populations; reproductive sexual health was said not to be of good quality; and intellectual leadership should be more critical.

·      There was also a felt need for a vision on data, research and analysis and writing of quality reports that would be understandable by policy makers.

Dr. Richmond’s presentation focused on the new direction that UNFPA wanted to take for the next 4–5 years. His main questions were: “Has UNFPA provided the correct indicators to measure the performance of politicians on their commitment to the CAIRO Agenda? Why were women still dying? What can be done?” He noted that there was a dearth in professionalism in demographic data; but, since politicians did not accept the data, some demographers doctored it to please them. He further reiterated that think tanks should work with parliamentary committees on population and advise them accordingly. Climate change and its effects on populations and disasters were suggested to be given priority and that research needed to focus on this area. Mental health was said to be forgotten and yet the amount of stress in the world today affecting populations was increasing and that this in turn was exacerbated by conflicts, disasters and unemployment. It was felt that this was a critical area that needed analysis but was being ignored.

The rest of the presentations focused on research gaps and how the parties present could ensure that there was research uptake, especially by policy makers and to make sure that countries were held accountable to decrees and protocols that they sign. Research gaps were identified on gener-based violence (GBV), early marriage, health (maternal health, family planning, reproductive health and child health services, sexual health, and sexual rights issue), adolescent and youth – civic and sexual education and demographic dividend, migration and urbanization, knowledge management and innovation. And the need to take these as research agenda was commended. The key points are summarised as follows.

Gender-based Violence (GBV): This was said to include: intimate partner violence (IPV), sexual harassment, sexual violence (rape), physical violence, emotional harassment; human trafficking for sexual purposes, economic violence, and other harmful practices, such as breast ironing.

There was a general consensus that there is limited data on GBV except for on FGM prevalence. Still it was explained, there was lack of data on this cultural practice and so there was need to research on the reasons. Participants agreed that lack of concrete evidence on GBV was partly due to under-reporting and communities’ accepting GBV.

Early Marriage: This was said to be caused by poverty  due to the influences of cultural and social norms, masculinity, lack of domestication of global conventions and enforcement, age and socioeconomic asymmetry of sexual partners, increasing orphanhood, lack of education opportunities and early pregnancy due to lack of contraception.

Health: This was said to include sexual and reproductive health, maternal health, family planning, reproductive health and child services.

 Emerging reproductive health issues were explained as follows:

·   Maternal health problems, broad causes of which were said to be known but national and sub-national data were said to be lacking due to lack of data in civil registration. It was also explained that there exist gaps and challenges in measurement (reliability issues), how the challenges were addressed (disconnect between policy and action); and understanding of socio-cultural drivers/contextual factors affecting utilization of existing services.

·   Family Planning: Gaps were said to exist in measuring the demand for family planning, thus unpacking unmet needs; in how to create and satisfy demand for family planning; in unpacking concerns about health side-effects and in how to address them at service delivery, in the political and socio-cultural context of childbearing, including reproductive norms, and in quality of services, including segmentation of the market.

·   Reproductive Health and Child Services (RHCS): It was indicated that knowledge available on investments in family planning in relation to the reduction of maternal mortality was limited. Gaps exist in economic benefits of investing in family planning,, e.g. adding it up and modelling (increasing local funding); operationalisation of guidelines regarding RHCS; mechanisms of strengthening health systems as a foundation to effective RHCS; multi-sectoral involvement in family planning, ways to learn and replicate success stories (e.g. Rwanda and other countries globally), and ways to have effective community mobilization and ownership in family planning.

·   Sexual Health and Sexual Rights Issue: It was stated that we should protect the rights of all; and that there was the need to educate the public at large on the prevalence and drivers of the problems. This was said to be a very sensitive issue (hard to come up with clear policies because the evidence was not there to tangibly expose the practice) for getting evidence on problems such as violence in relationships is difficult. There also exist service gaps for key populations, including HIV prevention needs among commercial sex workers, drug users, and prison populations, among many other groups.

Adolescent and Youth – Civic and Sexual Education and Demographic Dividend: The gaps indicated in this regard include: lack of adequate evidence on coverage and quality of services and limitedness of local evidence on the effectiveness of programmes. Best practices mentioned include building for advocacy in getting a buy-in from political leaders, government and faith-based leaders; mapping vulnerabilities and opportunities and raising challenges of young people. Problems that can be targeted by future research agenda include:

·    lack of research that disaggregates young people into different categories (e.g. based on religious and ethnic identity, contrasting colonial and post-colonial history);

·    mapping the type and intensity of risk factors for adolescents’ entry into risky behaviours, including commercial sex work;

·    roles of young men as perpetrators and victims of sexual violence;

·    mapping emerging forms of transactional and non-consensual sex, practiced for example by boda-boda drivers and Matatu touts;

·    sexual violence and harassment in school environments;

·    role of cultural approaches to sexuality education – e.g. rite of passage (positive and negative) and understanding the roles of socialization agents, including role models, parents, peers, religious and community leaders; and

·    research on specific policies and programmes to help countries reap the demographic dividend.

Investing in improving quality of education and skills development; enhancing universal access to family planning; reducing infant and child mortality; and accelerating economic growth and job creation were all felt important.

Migration and Urbanization: Gaps in research included establishing the number of migrants at different levels—internal and international migrants; challenges of using the census data; regional approach to migration policies and programs; vulnerability of migrants; mapping of migration hotspots; and gaps in understanding urban-rural linkages in terms of development, health and diffusion of skills, knowledge and lifestyles. It was stated that most countries in Eastern and Southern Africa do not have policies and programs that nurture the development opportunities that can be brought about by migration, and diaspora engagement and how to incorporate them into the development of the region, such as how to turn brain drain into brain gain beyond remittances. Furthermore, research on the positive and negative dimensions of migration to the migrants, their host, and origin were said to be lacking as well as understanding migrant rights and issues around xenophobia and the exploitation of migrants; trafficking of persons; how migration policies and bilateral agreements considered the skill needs of the region; and identifying and profiling refugees and internally displaced persons and models for effective service delivery in  camps and outside the camps.

Knowledge Management and Innovation: This was said to be crucial for research uptake. Researchers should ensure that key stakeholders were involved in the evidence generation process and that these evidence addressed policy needs, and is documented, stored, disseminated and utilized. Multiple channels could be used to give feedback to communities and to effectively communicate to decision makers. These can be created and expanded by:

·      establishing communities of practice,

·      establishing a full unit on communication and knowledge management,

·      establishing observatories/social media and recruiting persons who will be feeding and updating such observatories from focal countries. In the context of many failed observatories, there may be need to review past experiences to inform moving forward,

·      establishing focal persons to provide information on on-going works/discourses and current status of knowledge in focal areas across the region,

·      availing annotated bibliography of published and unpublished works on thematic areas to inform stakeholders on the state of knowledge in the field,

·      enhancing networking between generators and end users of knowledge by creating or strengthening knowledge sharing platforms or how to bring new evidence in existing platforms (CODATA),

·      using existing parliamentary forums and networking,

·      enhancing the capacity and roles of agents of change and knowledge intermediaries,

·      reaching young people, media and civil society groups to generate change,

·      using youth groups, drama, songs, radio listeners club, beauty pageants, and

·      disseminating through policy briefs, press releases, and fact sheets.

The consultation meeting ended with Dr. Richmond Tiemoko promising to work with the participants in moving the set agenda forward. He particularly recognized OSSREA as a solid and reputable think tank in Eastern and Southern Africa whose research agenda rhymes with that of UNFPA. He promised to engage OSSREA in their future research activities. He also promised to visit the OSSREA office for a courtesy call when in Addis Ababa so as to discuss further on the specific areas of focus that OSSREA should work on.

 
 OSSREA Discusses with the Indian Ambassador to Ethiopia and Djibouti

The OSSREA Management team members held a meeting with His Excellency Mr. Sanjay Verma, Indian Ambassador to Ethiopia and Djibouti. The meeting was held at the Indian Embassy on the 28th of December 2014, where Ambassador Verma stated that he was very happy to have the OSSREA team over and reiterated that he had accepted to be a keynote speaker at the conference to be organised by OSSREA and PRIASA. He said that he was aware that there were strong links between OSSREA and the Indian-African Association.

The OSSREA Research Directorate represented by Professor Herman Musahara explained its activities in terms of: building capacity in the social sciences through Research Methodology Training, Research Schools for Social Science in Eastern and Southern Africa (RESSESA), Gender Mainstreaming Training (GMT), book projects, knowledge harvesting and policy dialogue and working with the OSSREA hubs; and mobilising resources, such as grants . Professor Mihyo, the Executive Director of OSSREA raised the issue of working with Indian universities on around Indian-African issues cognizant of the fact that Indians have contributed immensely for Africa’s growth and this had gone unrecognised. As an example, he indicated Indian involvements in markets, hospitals, universities, industrial estates; and in Kenya  15% of Indians works in the service sector, but that has not been documented. At present there is an Indian-Chinese scramble for partnership with Africa. The Ambassador readily agreed to find partners from India to work with OSSREA, but pointed out that, in real time it would be more appropriate to identify and pick out the subjects of research by Indian researchers on Africa or examine the trends of research in Africa as the emphasis of research might be different. It was even suggested that probably a small concept note can be written and that this could be a basis for collaboration where areas of research can be identified which would ultimately lead to the next stage. Some of the potential themes mentioned for collaborative research include: social policy, youth employment, migration, food security and natural resources, climate and disaster preparedness, social protection, science and technology, and experiences of BRICS and lessons for Africa.

The Ambassador also pointed out academic issues would be different when talking about either Ethiopia or any other African country where they could explore: enabling conditions, constraints, policies, and incentives that either Indians or Ethiopians can get.

The issue of capacity in view of Ebola control and prevention and attaining skills in terms of how education is being delivered was also pointed out as some of the challenges to be overcome.

In conclusion, it was agreed that OSSREA would try and document what has been researched on Indian-Ethiopian/Indiand-African issues and so identify the knowledge gaps which could be researched on and funded by the Indian Government through the Indian Embassy. 

 
 

OSSREA Management Members Travel on Mission to Kenya

Background: After preliminary consultations initiated by Dr. Mukuna, Research Associate at OSSREA, and following the participation of staff from the Centre for Parliamentary Studies of Kenya (CPST) in the OSSREA Dialogue Platform held at Moi University in June 2014, the CPST sent a delegation to OSSREA in August 2014 to discuss possibilities of collaboration in research and capacity building between it and OSSREA. The meetings that followed took two days and led to the approval of a Draft Memorandum of Understanding in which it was agreed that OSSREA would develop course modules on research methodology and offer them in courses to be funded by the Centre. In November 2014, the Centre invited OSSREA to send a team to Nairobi to discuss further the modalities for cooperation and to visit a limited number of County Assemblies to assess their training needs. The OSSREA Team started the mission on the 14th and completed its work on the 19th December 2014.

First Meeting with the CPST on the 15th December, 2014

The meeting was attended by: Professor Paschal Mihyo – OSSREA Executive Director, Professor Herman Musahara–SSREA Research Director, Dr. Truphena Mukuna–OSSREA Research Associate, Dr. Philip Brighttone Buchere– CPST Deputy Executive Director and Director for Training, Dr. George Wakha– CPST Director of Research,Dr. Martin Mbewa and Ms. Linnet Nisati – CPST Programme Officers for Research, Mr. Ibrahim Oyieno– CPST Programme Assistant, and Mr. Patrick Asanga and Mr. Paul Maina, CPST Programme Assistants.

In his opening remarks, Professor Nyokabi Kamau, Executive Director of CPST, introduced the CPST Team, welcomed the OSSREA team and reiterated the commitment of the Centre to work with OSSREA on research and capacity development. Professor Kamau underlined the following:

a)      The CPST had submitted the draft MoU to the legal department of The Parliament and after they had cleared it, they forwarded it to the Board of the Parliamentary Services Commission. The Commission could not act on it because Parliament had had several urgent matters and bills to discuss. The Centre was assured it would be approved early 2015. However, the delay in signing the MoU did not prevent the Centre from launching activities already agreed upon with OSSREA.

b)      Research staff at the Secretariat was very keen to undertake training on research methodology and to register for postgraduate courses.

c)      There were MPs who would like to do short postgraduate courses and some long-term courses such as M.A. and Ph.D.

d)     County Assemblies had their own training needs depending on the level of education of the County Members of the Assemblies.

e)      For the identification of those needs, the CPST had chosen two counties which represented two different zones and sets of identification characteristics. Visits had been planned for on the 16th and 17th December, 2014.

Professor Musahara started by thanking the Centre for sending a delegation to OSSREA. He introduced activities that were being organized by OSSREA with and on Parliaments, mainly the East Africa Legislative Assembly (EALA) in East Africa and the ELLA project on comparative policies and practices on executive accountability to Parliaments in selected African and Latin American countries. He then indicated that challenges encountered in research that require attention include: limited research capacity; limited capacity for research uptake and the capacity of researchers to package research results in a way that attracts their use by policy makers.

Professor Mihyo on his part introduced the new initiatives of OSSREA for partnership with regional authorities, mainly IGAD and the EALA with which it had signed MoUs; various Parliaments in the region citing the Parliament of Botswana with which it had an MoU; the Parliament of Uganda whose staff it had trained in research methodology in 2013; the Parliaments in Namibia and Zimbabwe with which it was in negotiations likely to lead to MoUs for collaboration in capacity development and research. He gave further details on the collaboration with the EALA saying OSSREA and EALA had developed a proposal aiming at capacity development and joint research on the pace of regional integration within the East African Community.

Dr. Mukuna gave a review of how the link between CPST and OSSREA developed citing her earlier work with the former and the participation on the CPST in the policy workshop of OSSREA in Eldoret. She also indicated that she had training experience with Members of the County Assemblies and confirmed that they had serious capacity gaps in policy making and analysis; policy implementation and oversight and joint interventions by CPST and OSSREA would help to bridge these gaps.

Professor Nyokabi added a few observations to the presentations by the OSSREA team. She said that most research results were being published without any validation and this affected their reliability and accuracy. She commented that there were problems of exaggerated data citing the case of figures on HIV/AIDS in Africa, which were used by donor agencies to raise funds. She added the case of organ donation, on which there had been constant instances of exaggeration of the data.

Second Meeting with CPST

Only the Directors and professional staff of the CPST attended the second meeting where Professor Nyokabi started with a recap of what had taken place between August, the time the CPST team visited OSSREA, and December. She referred to the draft MoU that has been agreed upon and said it had been channelled through the relevant departments on Parliament; but it was yet to be approved by the Board which she said would be signed early next year. She assured all, however, that for OSSREA and CPST to launch training activities, there was no need to wait for the signature of the MoU.

Professor Nyokabi said that after the understanding in OSSREA, she shared the training proposal with Dr. George Wakha, the Director of Research. It was clear that 40 new recruits need training and they could be divided into two groups and training could be organized in Arusha. A training calendar had already been approved. Tentative dates for collaborative training in 2015 were indicated as:

a)      March 16th to 27th  (in Arusha)

b)      June 8th to 19th (in Arusha)

c)      August 3rd to 14th  ( in Arusha)

d)     October 5th to 16th (in Arusha)

e)      September 14th to 24th ( Regional training in Addis Ababa)

f)       August 24th to 28th  (Gender Issues in Kenya),

It was agreed that:

a)      The training team would include at least three staff from OSSREA; accredited trainers of CPST; the core trainers at the CPST; and trainers based in other departments of Parliaments.

b)      OSSREA would develop modules for training and share them with the Centre for comments and improvements.

c)      There would be a training of trainers before training of others begins. It would be held in Kenya or Rwanda for a maximum of three days. Dates for the course would be fixed early in the year.

An agreement would be signed on the modalities of collaboration and training before the training. In winding up it was further agreed that the planned training activities were for the Secretariat of Parliament, but research uptake was the domain of the Parliamentary Committees and each committee had a researcher and a clerk. Therefore, in the next phase the training would focus on Clerks and their research teams.

Visit to Nyanadarua and Machakos Counties

As mentioned earlier, the two counties were selected by the CPST. Each of them is at different levels of development. For example, it was noted that Machakos County flanks metropolitan Nairobi. It hosts a good number of foreign and local companies; it is a fertile county and has a very high number of highly qualified staff and Members of the Assembly. It has solid infrastructure in terms of roads, schools, hospitals and office building; a well-managed environment and a focused development vision and plan.  In contrast, the Nyandarua County is housed in a former church building which it rents temporarily; it has a low level infrastructure and is struggling to put systems and institutions in place. However, it is the food basket of Nairobi and other cities. Notwithstanding differences in the endowments and levels of development, both Counties share similar capacity development needs. From the meetings held with them separately on the two days, the main areas where training is required are the following:

a)      Leadership, governance and management

b)      Human resources management

c)      Policy formulation, implementation, monitoring , evaluation and innovation

d)     Materials management

e)      Research, information,  gathering , processing and reporting

f)       Interpersonal relations,  communication  and dissemination

g)      Budget development, management, tracking and oversight

h)      Financial management and planning

i)        Information management systems

j)        Hansard management, audio editing, reporting and processing

k)      Information systems development and management

l)        Procurement  and contracting

m)    Conflict management, resolution and prevention

n)      Public relations  and outreach

o)      Legislative drafting and legislative procedures

p)      Public policy analysis

q)      Statistical analysis

r)       Resource mobilization

There were many other issues that were raised where training was needed but the OSSREA team concentrated on critical skills where advanced training could be offered. It was also clear that in both Counties, the majority of County Assembly Members needed first degrees. The urgency for this was underlined by all, because the law may soon be changed to require those aspiring for seats in the Assemblies to have post-secondary qualifications or even a degree. They therefore pleaded with CPST and its partners to find a way of securing training for them aimed at post-secondary qualifications.

Third Meeting with CPST

After the visits to the Counties, the CPST and OSSREA teams held a third meeting, for which they were joined by Dr. Freek Schiphorst and Dr. Sunil Thakhand from the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) of Erasmus University in Rotterdam in The Netherlands. The Deputy Executive Director of CPST Dr. Philip Buchere chaired the meeting because Professor Kamau was at Parliament. Dr. Buchere introduced the genesis of the CPST. Professors Mihyo and Musahara both introduced OSSREA. Dr. Schiphorst thanked OSSREA and CPST for the invitation and said that ISS was keen to work with the two institutions to strengthen capacity for Parliaments and County Assemblies. He said ISS already has a diploma and MA programmes that can be accessed by Kenyan secretariat staff and legislators but Kenya was not eligible for priority consideration in the Netherlands Fellowship Programme. The discussion focused more on the short diploma courses especially the one on governance and democracy. It was also agreed that the diploma course should be launched immediately and could be run at seven centres in seven counties. Special tailored courses would be developed by ISS in consultation with CPST and OSSREA, but, before that is done, the CPST would undertake a rapid training needs assessment and send it to the ISS. Tentatively it was agreed the short diplomas could be launched from May 2015 onwards.

Meeting With the Team from Moi University

Professor Barasa had approached Professor Bob Weshitemi, the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research at Moi University and the latter gave him permission to meet and discuss the issue of creating a Climate Change Hub further with OSSREA. Accordingly, the OSSREA team met Professor Barasa on the 19th December who was accompanied by Professor Beneah Odhiambo of the Geography Department. Professor Mihyo gave a short background of why the Moi University was considered the most appropriate institution to host the Hub. Dr. Mukuna also gave the background to the climate change, disaster reduction and social protection project proposal that triggered the formation of the Hub. Professor Musahara expressed the importance of the Kenya Chapter and the successful activities it had hosted. Professor Barasa thanked OSSREA for thinking of Moi University and affirmed the willingness of his university to host the Hub and to champion the project through the university systems. He also said the process would not take long and OSSREA should be ready to put in some resources to ensure the processes move faster and suggested that the Hub should have its own structure of governance not integrated in the university structure; the Coordinator should be an OSSREA official or Liaison Officer and an MoU should be signed between the University and OSSREA.

Professor Odhiambo thanked OSSREA and said there were many initiatives that were trying to launch a similar thing but had not advanced beyond the idea; and therefore, the project was timely. The Professor said that his Department would be very honoured to host the Hub and he was in touch with Swedish researchers looking into the possibility of such a Hub. It was also said the Hub would be a vehicle for bringing science to the people; and if properly organized, it would attract senior scholars and political support as well.

The following decisions were made:

·         Professor Barasa and Professor Odiambo would work together to secure support for the Hub at Moi University.

·         OSSREA would draft an MoU and send it to Professor Barasa for processing.

·         After the MoU is signed, OSSREA would send the M.A. and Ph.D. curriculum to Moi University for pipelining through the accreditation process.

·         Once accredited, the courses will be announced and launched on commercial basis as a joint Programme between OSSREA and Moi University.

·         The coordinator would be an official of OSSREA. Fees would be paid to OSSREA and costs and benefits shared by the University and OSSREA.

·         Further details would be worked out in the course of 2015.

 
 

OSSREA Staff Accord a Farewell Luncheon to Outgoing ED

Professor Paschal B. Miyo ended his term as the OSSREA Executive Director (ED) and was given a farewell lunch by the Staff and Resident Vice President of OSSREA at the Checheho Traditional Restaurant in Addis Ababa. OSSREA Resident Vice President Professor Baye Yimam, Acting Executive Director Professor Herman Musahara, and members of the Management team voiced that Professor Mihyo will always be remembered for his culture of hard work and will be missed by all who have worked with him. They also emphasised that his links with the organisation will remain intact. A gift by the staff was handed by the RVP to Prof. Mihyo, to whom good wishes were also expressed.

Speaking on the occasion, Prof. Mihyo on his part acknowledged the Staff and the Executive Committee of OSSREA for the support rendered to him during his tenure. He also promised to continue working with and advocating for the good of OSSREA.

Professor Mihyo was Executive Director of OSSREA from 2008 to end of 2012 and 2013 to end of 2014. The farewell was given on 13 January 2015.

mihyo-farewell

 

Professor Baye (middle) hands the gift to Professor Mihyo (second from left). Management members of the OSSREA Secretariat delightfully watch the proceed.

 


 
OSSREA GMT Workshop Inspired an Author
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The Author of this book the blurb of which is linked to the cover in the left, attended a GMT training workshop in march 2013 in Tanzania and she promised to use the knowledge acquired to finish her work. She has now delivered on her promise and the book is available. Please read the blurb.

 

OSSREA WORKSHOP ON DISASTER RISK REDUCTION, CLIMATE CHANGE, SOCIAL PROTECTION
FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AT MAASAI MARA UNIVERSITY

OSSREA is organizing and sponsoring a workshop on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), Climate Change (CC), Social Protection (SP) for Sustainable Development at Maasai Mara University. For more info please visit Massai Mara University Website ( http://www.mmarau.ac.ke/)

 

A seminar on "Achieving inclusive development in Africa: Policies, processes and political settlements"

OSSREA in collaboration with ODI and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs conducted a two day policy research seminar on"Achieving inclusive development in Africa: Policies, processes and political settlements"

The seminar was conducted on the 13th and 14th of May 2014 at the UNECA Conference Hall in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The presentations presented at the seminar are available at http://ossrea.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=770 

 

Zimbabwe Minister Muchena, Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development officiates at OSSREA Workshop


I want to thank OSSREA for funding research because we are going through a very difficult path in our nation and one of the things that has suffered most is academia, especially research and, by coming through with funding you have plugged in a hole of enormous proportion. This was said by the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development, Dr Olivia Muchena, when she officially opened the National Academic Policy Workshop sponsored by the Organization for Social Science Research in Eastern and Southern Africa (OSSREA). Click here to read the full text.

 

OSSREA was invited to a Conference Entitled ‘Moving Africa’s Development and Industrialization Agenda Forward: Trade Unions Alternatives’

Professor Paschal Mihyo, the Executive Director of OSSREA was invited by the African Organization of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa) to attend their conference on ‘Moving Africa’s Development and Industrialization Agenda Forward: Trade Unions Alternatives’. Professor Mihyo was one of the two keynote speakers and the focus of the presentation was on the role of trade unions in promoting human rights and the decent work agenda and addressed the following:

  • The historical role played by unions in fighting for the right to organize, engage in collective bargaining and equal pay for equal work; the struggle against forced and child labour and against any forms of discrimination at work.
  • The role of unions in protecting the enterprise system from self destruction by fighting for health and safety at work; struggling for labour standards and labour inspection; ensuring enterprises pay taxes and comply with legislation etc.
  • The role of unions in the struggle for decent and dignified pay which started in the 1950s and continues to date with some countries having passed legislation that restrict the payment of starvation wages while some still lag behind.
  • The recent threats to labour and human rights arising out of neoliberal policies of deregulation and informalization of labour markets; the end of fordism and the return to backward feudalistic labour practices.
  • Racialization and feminization of the informal labour markets especially in the two cones of Africa (North and Southern Africa)
  • The violence off development as signified by privatization, commercialization, casualization, land alienation etc, by the so-called developmental state in Africa which has led to massive lay-offs, loss of livelihoods, forcible eviction of peasants from their land without any or adequate compensation; governments taking public assets from the many and selling them to the few and sweetening public enterprises in order to sell them to foreign investors or state bureaucrats and their cronies.
  • Investment protection that subsidizes investors and suspends regulations on labour rights and decent work allowing the investors to establish systems of economic apartheid in Africa and do things which they cannot do in their own countries.
  • Best practices of policies that have been put in place in Brazil, Tunisia (before the uprising) and South Africa on social dialogue, enterprise promotion, training schemes for retirees and retrenchees; special public works programmes etc., to stem the tide of impoverishment that can result from the violence of development. The conclusion was that development is humane and being inclusive is possible and that Europe is a good example of a continent, which has for the last 40 years, attained high levels of growth based on systems and practices that promote inclusive, democratic and humane development.


OSSREA Attends a Scoping Conference on ‘The Links between Social Inclusion and Sustainable Growth in Africa’

Dr Melese Getu Research Specialist at OSSREA was invited by the Knowledge Platform on Development Policies of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands to attend a scoping conference on ‘The Links between Social Inclusion and Sustainable Growth in Africa’ at the Conference Centre in The Hague from 29 October to 31 October 2013.

The Conference was composed of the following six sessions.

1. Can Social Protection Contribute to Growth in SSA?

2. Experiences with Social Protection Programmes and their Growth Impacts

3. Issues in Policy Making

4. Learning from Country Examples: Ethiopia, Mozambique, Ghana and Uganda

5. The Global Debate: South-South Cooperation and OECD Experiences

6. Break-out Groups: Research Gaps and Needs

Dr Melese was given the opportunity to prepare a power point presentation and give a 15 minutes presentation based on OSSREA’s book titled Informal and Formal Social Protection Systems in Sub-Saharan Africa. The presentation highlighted a synthesis of the book and focused on the following outlines:

  • Gaps in the literature on social protection in sub-Saharan Africa: a gap has emerged in the conceptualisation & practice of social protection in Africa; Social protection in Africa is increasingly dominated by programmes designed & financed by Western donor agencies; building programmes on ideas and experiences derived from countries outside Africa; although these programmes are often evaluated as effective & successful they rarely take into account the rich history of traditional solidarity mechanisms & indigenous self-help institutions; informal & semi-formal systems and institutions continue to operate alongside ‘modern’ publicly administered social protection programmes; informal and semi-formal systems and institutions complement by meeting specific needs and reaching groups of people that most formal social protection programmes do not reach.
  • Complementary roles of existing informal and formal social protection systems in the context of the trend towards institutionalizing social protection as a core government responsibility; some of which are relatively neglected or under-researched.
  • Challenges this book offers to current thinking and practice: this book calls for the need to focus attention on local or ‘indigenous’ mutual support systems and institutions/ ‘informal’ and ‘semi-formal’ social protection mechanisms which are undervalued or even neglected in the discourse of ‘formal’ social protection policy-making and programming.
  • Informal social protection; urban social protection; social protection in unstable contexts; climate change; pastoralism and gender; three chapters assess specific social protection instruments: cash transfers, health insurance and education bursaries. The presentation however, focused only on three broad thematic areas covered by the book namely, informal social protection, urban social protection, and gender and social protection; and drew on case studies from Ethiopia, Kenya and Zimbabwe, although several other countries are also covered in the book.

Conclusion: It was stated that informal social protection is pervasive and often the dominant form of social protection in Africa. For the majority of rural people and those engaged in the informal economy, informal social protections are primary lines of protection. There is a need to assess and consider the synergy and complementary roles of informal and formal systems and institutions; and build on ideas and experiences derived (institutions evolved) from within African societies and take into account the rich history of traditional solidarity mechanisms and indigenous self-help institutions.


OSSREA Attends the Africa Portal Content Partners Meeting
   
OSSREA was represented by Mr. Alemu, the OSSREA ICT Specialist who attended the first Africa Portal Content Partners Meeting from November 10 – November 13, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa.  The Africa Portal is an online knowledge resource for policy-related issues on Africa. An undertaking by the CIGI and the SAIIA, the Africa Portal offers open access to a suite of features including an online library collection; a resource for opinion and analysis; an experts directory; an international events calendar; and a mobile technology component – all aimed to equip users with research and information on Africa’s current policy issues. The Africa Portal Content Partners meeting took place on the 11th of November 2013. The meeting was hosted by SAIIA (South African Institute of International Affairs) and CIGI (Centre for International Governance Innovation). The meeting was attended by 42 participants (ICT and related professionals) who came from 32 content partner organizations based in Africa. The meeting had the following agenda which were covered by representatives of Africa Portal (Renette Collins, Shingi Muzondo, Suzanne Cheery and Som Tsoi) and the floor was open for discussion.

The major theme for discussion was “Development of the Africa Portal and the Africa Initiative to date”:
  • How to effectively use the portal library – a refresher training session on its functionality;
  • Key role of content partners;
  • Marketing the portal;
  • Technology update;

Representing OSSREA as a leading content partner of the Africa Portal, Mr. Alemu raised some of his experiences in using the portal for the past three years. Among the questions raised were:

  • The format of statistical usage reports issued to content partners
  • User registration features
  • Publishing of specific articles instead of journals as books
  • Publishing of executive summaries and abstracts
  • Editing and updating of the experts directory

Representatives of the Africa Portal addressed most of the queries and promised to make the necessary updates to the portal. Finally after discussing the summary of the discussions closing remarks were made by the head of the SAIIA (Elizabeth Sidiropoulos).

The next day all Africa Portal participants were invited to attend a parallel session on BRICS and AFRICA: A Partnership for Sustainable Development organized by SAIIA and BRICS Policy Centre.


 
PROF. Nnadozie tasks ACBF beneficiaries to adopt “new business model”
 
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (January 28, 2014/ACBF) - The Executive Secretary of the African Capacity Building Foundation ACDF), Prof. Emmanuel Nnadozie, has on Tuesday, January 28, informed ACBF Implementing Partners of the changes at the foundation.

Attending his first African Union Summit as Executive Secretary of ACBF Prof. Nnadozie met the Executive Directors of the ACBF-supported Institutions in Ethiopia at the headquarters of the Ethiopian Development Research Institute (EDRI).

Five institutions attended the meeting, namely the host EDRI, the Ethiopian Economic Association (EEA), the Horn Economic and Social Policy Institute (HESPI), the AUC-CAP and the Organization for Social Science Research in Eastern and Southern Africa. (OSSREA).
 
 

 
OSSREA held its 11th Congress in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 

OSSREA held its 11th Congress at the Desalegn Hotel from December 9th to 11th 2013 while the   conference was held on the 9th and 10th of December 2013 with the theme of OSSREA’s Response to Africa’s Challenges of Change.  The conference was opened by Dr Kaba Urgessa, the State Minister of Education for Ethiopia who talked about the challenges of education in the country.  The main objective of this conference was to bring together academicians, researchers and policy makers to discuss various topical issues that Africa is dealing with including – climate change, land deals, social protection, unemployment, HIV/AIDs, gender equality, public sector reform, higher education, water resource management, etc. At this conference budding scholars from Eastern and Southern Africa presented the outcomes of their research projects and the books that have been published by international and regional publishers on the issues have been launched to the wider community and OSSREA’s stakeholders.  

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OSSREA’s Reponses to Africa’s Challenges of Change
Conference Held 9th–10 December, 2013

Proceedings of the OSSREA 11th Conference, 9th-10th December 2013 Desalegn Hotel, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Click here to download the proceeding


 

Funding Higher Education in Eastern and Southern Africa
Modalities, Challenges, Opportunities and Prospects
A Policy Research Forum

25 - 26 June, 2014
Soramaba Hotel

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Click here to download the presentations


 

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A Conference on
Achieving inclusive development in Africa
Policies, processes and political settlements
A policy research seminar

UN-ECA 13-14 May 2014
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Click Here for the Presentations

 

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OSSREAOECDSIDA
Expert meeting on implementing research and innovation policy at policy and institutional levels in Africa
19-20 September 2013
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Click here to download Welcoming Remarks, Presentations, Comments

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The Second ASELER-Kenya
International Conference In English Language Education
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Call for Applications
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