Local researchers should be involved as early as possible in the design stage of a research project. This was one of the conclusions of the expert meeting Research collaboration in fragile and conflict-affected contexts (FCAS) organised at the Dutch Embassy in London by Integrity and SpringFactor. This was the fourth edition of a series of international expert meetings about entrepreneurship development for stability in FCAS, initiated by SPARK.
During the event we explored how to improve effective research collaboration between national and international actors in these regions. A short presentation drawing on insights from workshops in South Sudan, Mali and Syria, sponsored by the Knowledge Platform Security & Rule of Law in The Hague and in partnership with SPARK, kicked off the event. The expert meeting was attended by donor representatives, international consultancies, NGO’s and independent experts.
One of the topics tabled was the power of the international organisations which are asking the questions. Often it appears these organisations are not asking the right questions. Or that the answers found are not the answers they are looking for – as these organisations are often driven by a specific agenda. Therefore, it is important that we understand what drives them to ask certain questions. And that research organisations ‘push back’ and ‘negotiate’ about the assignment and the questions asked, in order to get better and more useful results.
Furthermore, a strong plea was made to engage local researchers, also in the design stage of research projects. Their expertise and unique understanding of the local environment is highly valuable and should be utilized for the better. It was stated that ‘international donors need to take more risks and give national researchers a chance’.