Development assistance and research capacity strengthening: the commissioning of health research in East Africa

Nurse, K. and Wight, D. (2011) Development assistance and research capacity strengthening: the commissioning of health research in East Africa. Journal of Eastern African Studies, 5(2), pp. 233-251. (doi: 10.1080/17531055.2011.571387)

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Research capacity strengthening (RCS) is a key strategy to address the problem of health inequity and development. In spite of policy statements on “capacity development” and “North–South partnerships” among commissioning and donor agencies, most RCS initiatives operate on the conventional supply-driven, expatriate-led, short-term project, technical cooperation model which has proved ineffective in building institutional capacity and sustaining research environments. This paper analyzes the political economy of health research commissioning among bilateral, multilateral, non-governmental and philanthropic organizations, using East Africa as a case study. Instead of conventionally focusing on recipient countries and institutions, we look at the policies and practices of donor and commissioning agencies and the relationship they have with key stakeholders like Southern research institutions. While conventional approaches to development assistance predominate, we argue that the literature on RCS over-generalizes and presents it in monolithic terms. In contrast, this study provides a typology of research commissioning practices and identifies several different modes of engagement. The key findings are that the structure of the relationship between donors and recipients, as well as the governance structures of the commissioning agencies, have a critical influence on RCS. The paper concludes with some recommendations for enhancing the role of donors and commissioning

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Wight, Professor Danny
Authors: Nurse, K., and Wight, D.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:Journal of Eastern African Studies

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