Wednesday, December 18, 2013

SSD plans its strategy for the next 5 years

The Social Sciences Division (SSD) conducted back-to-back activities in late November and early December 2013, starting with a visioning exercise on 25–26 November 25-26. With all SSD internationally recruited staff (IRS) and collaborating research scientists (CRS) participating, the exercise aimed to review the mission and vision of the division, identifying gaps between recent and new activities and projects and planning for the next 5 years. The group also had ample time to discuss existing projects and activities, including cross-cutting issues on climate change, capacity building, monitoring and evaluation (M&E), and gender. They also looked at manpower needs to support the planned activities in the coming years.

After lunch on 26 November, the IRS and CRS were joined by the nationally recruited staff (NRS) and the afternoon was spent on hearing presentations of ongoing activities of each group/project. This gave everyone the opportunity to know what each group is doing, a difficult thing to achieve on ordinary days as the teams focus on their respective tasks. During the evening, the whole staff had after-dinner fun activities, which included a singing contest and group dancing. On the third day (27 Nov), there were team-building exercises composed of physical and strategy group games.

On 2–3 Dec 2013, the workshop on GRiSP’s Computer Assisted Personal Interview (CAPI) and M&E was held in Bangkok, participated in by 32 staff from AfricaRice, CIAT, CSISA-Bangladesh, CIRAD, ICRISAT, IRRI, and JIRCAS. The meeting was led by Bas Bouman (GRiSP director) and Samarendu Mohanty (Program 5 leader and SSD head). It was an excellent stock-taking exercise for GRiSP centers and partners who are using CAPI to conduct field surveys and employ various M&E systems for projects at the regional and hub levels. The key ideas presented involved ways to standardize, share, and link activities that could be used to achieve a common system of analyzing information and tracking progress through defined indicators.

This meeting also represented the first-ever comprehensive overview of all the M&E systems. A variety of conceptual frameworks and tools from these data-capturing tools were presented, in the hope of finding a systematic approach to collect and analyze the needed indicators.

Right after the CAPI event came the workshop on Food alue chain analysis: tools and applications, which was facilitated by SSD IRS Matty Demont and Valerien Pede. This workshop focused on tools and applications for food value chain analysis, such as demand, supply and trade analysis and simulation, surveys, experimental economics, spatial analysis, and other tools for qualitative and quantitative analysis. Apart from lectures, hands-on exercises and group presentations proved to be vital parts of the workshop. Twenty-seven collaborators/partners/scientists from India (12), Bangladesh (4 ), Sri Lanka (1), IRRI (9), and PhilRice (1) attended the workshop. The resource persons came from IRRI (11), FAO-Bangkok (1), ICAR (1), and ICRISAT-Malawi (1). This culminating workshop contributes to IRRI’s goal of developing existing and future partners/collaborators/young scientists in their own respective fields.

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