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close this bookNews & Views - A 2020 vision for food, agriculture, and the environment - September 1999: Pushing back Poverty in India. (IFPRI, 1999, 10 p.)
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2020 Vision Networks for East and West Africa Complete Phase I

At the behest of African countries, IFPRI and its collaborators in the region established two research networks in 1998, one for East Africa and one for West Africa. Through policy research, publications, training, and dialog between decisionmakers, civil society leaders, and researchers, the networks aim to generate information that will help policymakers achieve sustainable growth, alleviate poverty, and build the capacity of African countries to formulate appropriate policies and strategies. IFPRI established these networks through its 2020 Vision initiative, which recognizes that a shared vision about how to meet future world food needs in a sustainable manner can develop only if each country begins to build its own 2020 vision in dialog with others. IFPRI and its network partners, Securitlimentaire Durable en Afrique de l'Ouest Centrale in West Africa, and the Eastern and Central Africa Program for Agricultural Policy Analysis in East Africa, will facilitate the development of local and regional visions and action plans for achieving sustainable food security by 2020.

Phase I of the networks began in January 1998 and concluded this past June. This preparatory phase included identifying countries that wanted to participate in the networks, setting up country teams with leading researchers from each country, holding priority-setting workshops, and holding in-country seminars to share country-specific priorities with stakeholders. Each team is now ready to undertake high-priority policy research aimed at the most important information gaps identified for that country.

IFPRI and its collaborators in the 14 network countries - Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, and Ethiopia (participating as an observer for the time being) in East Africa, and Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Senegal, Togo, and Niger (participating as an observer at present) in West Africa - are now poised to embark on Phase II. Fred Opio joined as coordinator of the network for East Africa in preparation for this phase. He is based in Kampala, Uganda. Sudhir Wanmali remains the coordinator for West Africa and is based in Accra, Ghana. A number of activities are planned as the second phase unfolds:

· policy research - collaborative research will be undertaken on those themes identified by network members as priorities;

· training and capacity-strengthening - innovative courses will be offered on key topics and a researcher exchange program will facilitate interaction between countries in the region and with other developing countries; and

· information dissemination - various communication instruments will be developed, workshops and meetings will be organized, and a major regional conference will be held by each network toward the end of the second stage to present the results of network activities to a larger group of stakeholders in the region.

In addition, regional advisory committees are being organized to help each network set priorities, evaluate progress, and undertake other activities as appropriate. The Committees will hold their first planning meetings later this year.

More information on the networks is available from Rajul Pandya-Lorch, head of the 2020 Vision initiative, Fred Opio, and Sudhir Wanmali.