Strengthening the universities’ role as facilitator of the public debate in the Sahel


MSM’s Orange Knowledge Programme in the Sahel region that focuses on optimizing the contribution of universities to strengthen the resilience of communities is underway since September 2020. Given the difficult circumstances posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions to international travel, the whole inception phase of the project was carried on form remote. The partners were able to establish a good collaboration through online kick-off meetings and online specific workshops to design and develop the work plan for each output. Specific work teams with regional coordinators and local members were put in place, in order to ensure a strong governance of the project.

Over the past months Dutch and Sahelian partners have cooperated to the development of common research questions and hypotheses and of a shared research matrix on the theme of community resilience, security and consolidation of the rule of law in the context of climate change and conflicts in the Sahel. National research teams will conduct research in the field over the next months to investigate local case studies that can show good practices about community resilience. The results of this research will be shared through national and regional platforms and during a final conference at the end of the project. The aim of this work is not only to produce relevant academic work, but also to establish a dialogue with civil society and policy makers in order to influence the national and regional policies that have an impact on community resilience to climate change and insecurity, strengthening the universities’ role as facilitator of the public debate.

Developing a local training program
At the same time, the international team has started working on the analysis of the universities’ training and educational capacities, identifying the needs and interests for staff training and capacity strengthening. This work leads to the development of a training program for local professors and researchers, which will be implemented over the next months, and the development of a plan for curricula diagnostic, which is already being undertaken by local teams. The project aims at facilitating the exchange between academic staff from different countries, at strengthening their competences and at improving the education offer by entailing the results of the research conducted on community resilience.

Upcoming face-to-face activities
In the months of January and February the first meetings in person will take place. Each university will organize a national platform meeting for the official kick-off of the project at national level, for the coordination of research activities and for the exchange and dialogue with political, academic and civil society actors on issues of resilience, security and the rule of law. National platforms will be followed by a regional conference in Bamako, for the coordination of research at regional level and the inception of a regional platform and network for the exchange of knowledge and experiences.

About the project
The project will strengthen regional and international collaboration and contributes to the capacity building of Educational and Research Institutions in three Sahel countries, Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. The project will strengthen the knowledge on climate change, conflicts, security issues and rule of law. On the other hand, strengthening the resilience of communities to the effects of climate change and conflict will be looked into and solutions will be implemented.

The project is managed by Maastricht School of Management who collaborates in a consortium with CINOP and the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM). The project capacitates Bamako University of Legal and Political Sciences (USJPB) in Mali, Joseph Ki Zerbo University (UJKZ) in Burkina Faso, Abdou Moumouni University of Niamey (UAM) in Niger.

Orange Knowledge Programme
This project is part of the Nuffic Orange Knowledge Programme (OKP). For more information click here.

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