Evaluating the Wellcome Trust's African Institutions Initiative
In mid-2009, the Wellcome Trust, the UK's largest charity, developed the African Institutions Initiative and invested nearly £30 million in seven consortia designed to build sustainable, independent health research capacity at African institutions in areas relevant to the health and livelihood needs of African countries, regions, and their populations.
RAND Europe is leading a four-year evaluation of this capacity-building initiative to provide a thorough, transparent and evidence-based assessment process for each consortium; and to facilitate and disseminate lessons learnt about effective capacity building approaches, from the evaluation of the initiative as a whole.
Dr Alex Ezeh, leader of one of the consortia, noted: "Notwithstanding the attention it has historically received, research capacity remains very weak in Africa. Indeed, existing research capacity-strengthening programmes and collaborative partnerships in Africa are largely driven by Northern academic and research institutions."
To address this problem, the Wellcome Trust mandates that each consortium couples universities and research institutes in Africa with partners in the EU, US and/or Malaysia. An African university or research institute is leading each consortium and is managing directly received funds.
RAND Europe's evaluation of the initiative should be of relevance to policy makers, funders and researchers engaged in networked capacity building efforts globally. For more information about this project, please contact the research leader, Dr Sonja Marjanovic.
This paper focuses on the Wellcome Trust's African Institutions initiative, an example of the networked research capacity-building initiatives emerging in response to the need for research capacity growth.