The concept of partnership has in the last decade emerged as being fundamental for successful poverty eradication. The importance of partnerships in development efforts is reflected in high level regional and global commitments and initiatives such as the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) of 2001, the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness of 2005, the Accra Agenda for Action of 2008 and the Busan Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation of 2011.
With the emergence of the partnership approach to development, there has also been a significant change in focus and direction of development approaches with new approaches such as Research for Development becoming prominent. Partnerships in Research for Development projects are viewed as important means for contributing to knowledge generation resulting in better and improved services, and development programmes. Although partnerships are believed to be essential in achieving development outcomes, little is known about their impact on the communities which their research is supposed to improve.
This thesis examines the impact of research for development partnerships using the Challenge Programme on Water and Food’s (CPWF) Limpopo Basin Development Challenge Programme (LBDC) as a case study. The LBDC was organized into four interlinked technical research projects and one coordination project (L1-L5). The diverse range of partners in the LBDC evident in the range of disciplines and sectors represented in the partnership presented an excellent case study into how different organizations with undoubtedly different mandates come together to work on research for development programmes.
The objectives of the study were: to determine the key steps for establishing successful research partnerships; examine how partnerships are communicated to communities and relevant stakeholders paying particular attention to the different communication approaches used and the challenges experienced; assess the success of the partnership in achieving its objectives and the contribution of the partnership to the development of the community; and identify valuable lessons that can be considered by those wanting to replicate, and apply of the partnership approach to other projects.
The findings are based on primary and secondary data collected using in-depth semi-structured interviews with 19 LBDC programme partners, qualitative document analysis and participant observation. Results indicate that largely the LBDC partnership was successful in delivering on its objectives as the programme was able to raise awareness of the most up to date available research evidence on agricultural water management and results were shared with basin authorities.
Results further support existing knowledge on partnerships and they confirm many of the observations and claims made by established commentators in this field regarding good practice in partnerships. It is clear that the establishment of partnerships is a process that has to be well thought out, the importance of communication within and outside the partnership and external role and stakeholder engagement at all phases of the partnership and especially in monitoring and evaluating the progress of the partnership’s work is crucial. Lessons and recommendations from the study could be valuable to development professionals who carry out their research and development work in partnership.
Dissertation (MSocSc)--University of Pretoria, 2015.