Real-life Peer Assist

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Peer Assistee Exercise

Issue: Improving the integration of regional scientists in proposal development

Peer Assistee: Tilahun Amede, Systems Agronomist, CIAT-Africa

Facilitator: Steve Bebe, CIAT HQ

Background: As many of his colleagues, Tilahun has been engaged in developing and implementing a research agenda in the area of systems intensification, assisting national partners in capacity building and integrated research approaches, and in creating partnership with government and non-government research and development institutions. As a result of these commitments he was not keen to receive additional responsibilities. He has also limited logistical support due to distance effects from CIAT services. On the other hand, there have been requests from scientists of CIAT HQ, other CG centres and national institutions to assist them in establishing contacts in his working sites, to create linkages and to contribute to project developments and implementations.

The dilemma: He would like to extend his partnership with colleagues in new and evolving projects, but not at the expense of his work plan and agreed agenda. He would like also to see true partnership with colleagues as few cases revealed controversial experiences. The original initiators of projects were sending the concept notes and proposals to him after they are finalized-thus little space to integrate his ideas. In other cases, they did not consider his time in the budgeting and/or may even change sites once the project is approved.

Question to the forum: What do you advise me to use my time efficiently and strengthen my partnership with others in a transparent way?

Major outcomes of the discussion:

  • Need to revise and balance his time between research, partnership development and administration responsibilities
  • Developing a flexible work plan that may allow space for creativity
  • Identify and articulate the demand and priorities of the regions that HQ scientists could contribute towards bringing change
  • Preferably link with institutions than individuals to improve transparency
  • Develop mechanisms to minimize cost while linking with HQs
  • Need for development of institutional policy for proposal development, with particular emphasis on sharing responsibilities and benefits
  • Develop expertise database of all CIAT scientists
  • CIAT should enhance information sharing by encouraging face to face contacts
  • CIAT should identify focal points at the HQ to inform competence areas
  • Build outposted participation into project development funds
  • Create opportunities towards sabbatical leave, attendance of HQ staff in regional meetings and develop other complementary strategies