External evaluation commends IITA’s efforts in transforming agriculture
In a bid to position IITA strategically for the future, the IITA Board of Trustees commissioned an institute-wide external evaluation as part of efforts to achieve the goal of transforming African agriculture. The Center-Commissioned External Review (CCER) is part of a long-term plan to provide the Institute and its collaborators with indicators of areas to be explored in the next 10 years. The CCER paid special attention to innovation delivery for impact and aimed to provide IITA with an independent and rigorous assessment of institutional health, and its contribution in Africa.
The CCER comes at a time of global urgency for transformational action on sustainable food production, accelerated by population growth, environmental degradation, and climate change. The result from this review will further strengthen IITA’s vision to transform Africa’s agricultural landscape progressively and feed millions across the Continent.
Africa faces extreme conditions from population proliferation, rapid urbanization, and youth unemployment. Without increased efforts, achieving the UN SDG 2 target of eradicating hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition, and promoting sustainable agriculture by 2030 will be unattainable. Hence, the imperative nature of the CCER.
Using the current strategic 2012–2020 framework of IITA, the five-member team that carried out the review exercise focused primarily on appraisal of a bold new idea for IITA to expand its exciting but emerging work on delivery facilitation and associated capacity development of a diverse set of beneficiaries. This is so IITA can strategically become the gateway for more coherent delivery action plans and implementation across Africa and among partners, especially CGIAR centers.
The review report has been described as a document with a lot of learning points for IITA that will aid the planning of how the Institute is positioned for the future by Dr Kwesi Atta-Krah, Director for Advocacy and Country Alignment Function (ACAF).
The report assessed IITA’s progress on delivering its planned research and delivery for impact goals, and recommended for the CGIAR to encourage IITA to move forward in forming alliances for delivery that will develop action plans to be implemented among key partners in agriculture. This according to the report will benefit and empower stakeholders to deliver demanded outcomes with far greater efficiencies.
In implementing the strategic 2012–2020 framework across hubs in Africa, IITA Director General, Dr Nteranya Sanginga, has created a system wherein IITA takes on projects that contain research, but also a large “product delivery” component through partnerships thereby positioning IITA as a gateway for enhanced delivery of CGIAR innovations.
This is key to addressing transformational changes in African agriculture that demand competence, efficiencies, and dynamic partnerships towards convergence of needed factors for improved productivity and rural development.
Delivering the 74-page report, Eric Kueneman, Director of Kueneman Consultancy, the firm that carried out the evaluation, commended the wealth of research information at their disposal and the transparency displayed by key informants during the exercise. He said, “African agriculture must move beyond mere subsistence. Donors can have confidence that resources invested in IITA partnerships will be well utilized toward goals of Africa and for African empowerment.”
The team of reviewers noted that the recommendations outlined in the CCER report will provide useful background and guidance for IITA in the future, as the Institute continues its efforts to bring meaningful improvements to African agriculture and food systems.