The 11 Research Partnership Principles: Views from the South
As part of the International Conference on Research for Development (http: //www.icrd.unibe.ch/) held by the NCCR North-South in Bern, Switzerland, the KFPE organised a workshop on its 11 principles for research partnerships (3 July 2008).
The KFPE intends to adapt these 11 principles to current trends, developments and experience, and also develop them further. Accordingly, it invited 3 experienced researchers from the South to provide reflections based on their own experience and also offer their perspectives on the KFPE principles. Are the principles generally useful and applicable? Which principles are difficult to implement or even unrealistic? Are any elements missing? etc. These questions were of interest with respect to further development of the 11 principles.
Marian Perez, Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales, JACS Coordingator Central America, Costa Rica
Bassirou Bonfoh, Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
Doulaye Koné, Department of Water and Sanitation in Developing countries, SANDEC/EAWAG, Dübendorf, Switzerland.
All three researchers found the 11 principles basically helpful, well-conceived, and still relevant. While Marian Perez noted in particular that education needed to be anchored explicitly and more firmly in the principles, Bassirou Bonfoh underscored the importance of transparency within research partnerships, especially concerning budgetary issues, use of data, and ownership of results. Doulaye Koné focused on the enormous differences between North and South in his presentation, and joined the other two speakers in calling attention to the importance of time. As a rule, it is possible only after a number of years to have a research partnership that is based on mutual trust, responds to and takes account of the different and sometimes conflicting expectations and goals of the partners, and also fosters capacity development. Yet research projects often have durations of only 3 years.
All three speakers emphasised the importance of research capacity, which must be the central aim of research partnerships. This requires training, further education, and development of curricula. Yet these things are frequently possible only after years and, in particular, they require political engagement at the local level (-> but research is often the first thing to be curtailed when a country encounters problems, as one African participant noted during the discussion). The speakers agreed that the NCCR North-South has already had a very positive impact on capacity development, particularly in places where institutional cooperation in research existed previously.
Another important aspect mentioned by all three speakers was co-financing. How can one speak of partnership if money comes only or largely from one side?
The lively discussion in the plenary session emphasised the importance of time ((it took 10 years until we were recently able for the first time to submit a joint research proposal, noted one participant)), capacity development, and local commitment, as well as the difficulty of harmonising the different aims of such partnerships – such as high-quality scientific research with aspects relevant to development or training and with partnership principles.
It was also noted that there are two very different levels of partnership in principle – those that operate on a relatively symmetrical level, and those that are characterised by great asymmetry when there is virtually no research capacity in the partner country. These two levels must be approached very differently, and they also have very different overall aims.
It was suggested with respect to the 11 principles that further development take place on the basis of know-how already gained, and that particular attention be given to possible obstacles and difficulties and to capitalising on experience that could overcome them. In addition, it was proposed that gender aspects be specifically integrated.
Presentations available for download:
Non-equilibrium and comparative
advantage in South-North
Parternership by Bassirou Bonfoh
Challenges in applying KFPE 11 principles
in projects aiming at developing
expertise and capacities for
innovation and sustainable sanitation
programmes implementation by Doulaye Koné
A revision of the eleven
Research Partnership Principles
in the light of
lessons learned from an analysis
of POLIS by Marian Pérez
Abstract available for download:
Challenges in applying KFPE 11 principles in Research Partneship - in
projects aiming at developing expertise and capacities for innovation and
sustainable sanitation programmes implementation.
by Doulaye Koné