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Chapter I A Complex and Multifaceted Collaboration, Often Difficult to Implement 1. Marked Compartmentalization In general, most decision-makers are concerned with the consequences of deteriorating relations between researchers and decision-makers. Benin’s Minister of Health lamented the lack of research in essential areas such as health which may explain the high maternal and neonatal death rates in Benin:4 “The different initiatives and actions undertaken in this area have often met with failure due to a lack of interaction between researchers and decision-makers”. a) Administrative Complications and Red Tape The process of defining research programmes and priorities is complicated by weak relationships between researchers and decisionmakers . Lack of understanding between the two players aggravates and is exacerbated by red tape, which considerably slows down the research programmes developed by researchers and submitted to administration for decision-makers’ approval or support. Such tieups , viewed as proof of an uncooperative attitude, can reinforce researchers’ suspicions regarding decision-makers. Administrative complications and red tape can be found at every level, including mobilization of financial and human resources for research. Since researchers see themselves as the poor cousins of the administration, the situation only confirms their opinion that decision -makers do not view them as a priority, and this further undermines relations between the spheres. Difficulty in mobilizing resources makes researchers’ status even more precarious, in a situation where they already have extremely limited resources to conduct their investigations . The multiplicity of entities supervising research is another factor that contributes to administrative complications and red tape. Government research structures are very similar throughout West and 16 African Researchers and Decision-makers Central Africa; technical ministries such as Education, Health, Agriculture , and the Environment have their own research institutions, but the need for national-level coordination of research has led most countries in the region to set up departments responsible for research. This measure is welcomed by the research community as evidence of the store decision-makers set on research. However, experience has shown that the implementation of this policy decision is complex. Indeed, due to habit, existing affinities including practical considerations , research organisations continue to work with their respective technical departments, with which they share sectoral activities, while more crosscutting issues such as the status of researchers, career plans, a national research plan, etc. are handled by the department of research . Since responsibility for the various areas is not clearly defined, many Research Departments try to carve out areas of intervention by positioning themselves in the areas left vacant by the technical departments . Unfortunately, the limited financial resource allocated to these Departments once again raises the question of the level of priority policy-makers truly accord research. This situation further complicates the existing red tape. Lack of permanent frameworks for consultation and exchange between researchers and decision-makers was observed almost everywhere . In the rare cases where such structures existed, they were non-functional. Under such conditions, consultation only occurred sporadically, mainly in cases of crisis or urgent need. Yet, it is difficult to address in detail the sort of substantive issues involved in relations between researchers and decision-makers during occasional, oneoff meetings. b) Decision-makers Uninformed of Researchers’ Innovations and Technology Packages Because of the complexity and multidimensional nature of the issues they study, researchers increasingly offer technology packages. Unfortunately, they complain that decision-makers only focus on that portion of the research that applies directly to their concerns, ignoring the fact that it is part of an integrated package. This attitude does not guarantee success and can even be the cause of certain failures. We also note the speed with which decision-makers choose to popularize one of the options put forward by researchers without prior consultation with researchers or devoting time to review all the options. A Complex and Multifaceted Collaboration, Often Difficult to Implement 17 Experiences in the Agricultural Sector in Senegal Two major experiences revealed serious deficiencies in synergy between researchers and decision-makers. 1. During a visit to colleagues at the National Centre for Agronomic Research (Centre national de recherches agronomiques, CNRA) in Bambey, we noted that an ISRA team had been working for several years on selection of maize varieties. We were presented with some twenty varieties, each of which was adapted to specific soil and climate conditions and specific agronomic targets. Shortly afterwards, we learned of the launching of a national ‘maize programme’ based on imported seeds. Consultation had not taken place between researchers and decision-makers prior to this decision. 2...


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