Experiences of capacity strengthening in sanitation and hygiene research in Africa and Asia : the SHARE Research Consortium

Torondel, Belen and Balls, Emily and Chisenga, Caroline Cleopatra and Kumwenda, Save and Okello, Elialilia and Simiyu, Sheillah and Morse, Tracy and Smith, Kyla and Mumma, Jane and Banzi, Joseph and Harvey, Erik and Chidziwisano, Kondwani and Chipungu, Jenala and Grosskurth, Heiner and Beda, Amani and Kapiga, Saidi and EstevesMills, Joanna and Cumming, Oliver and Cairncross, Sandy and Chilengi, Roma (2019) Experiences of capacity strengthening in sanitation and hygiene research in Africa and Asia : the SHARE Research Consortium. Health Research Policy and Systems, 17. 77.

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    Abstract

    The Sanitation and Hygiene Applied Research for Equity (SHARE) Research Programme consortium is a programme funded by the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) that aims to contribute to achieving universal access to effective, sustainable, and equitable sanitation and hygiene worldwide. The capacity development component is an important pillar for this programme and different strategies were designed and implemented during the various phases of SHARE. This paper describes and reflects on the capacity-building strategies of this large multi-country research consortium, identifying lessons learnt and proposing recommendations for future global health research programmes. In the first phase, the strategy focused on increasing the capacity of individuals and institutions from low- and middle-income countries in conducting their own research. SHARE supported six PhD students and 25 MSc students, and organised a wide range of training events for different stakeholders. SHARE peer-reviewed all proposals that researchers submitted through several rounds of funding and offered external peer-review for all the reports produced under the partner’s research platforms. In the second phase, the aim was to support capacity development of a smaller number of African research institutions to move towards their independent sustainability, with a stronger focus on early and mid-career scientists within these institutions. In each institution, a Research Fellow was supported and a specific capacity development plan was jointly developed. Strategies that yielded success were learning by doing (supporting institutions and postgraduate students on sanitation and hygiene research), providing fellowships to appoint mid-career scientists to support personal and institutional development, and supporting tailored capacity-building plans. The key lessons learnt were that research capacity-building programmes need to be driven by local initiatives tailored with support from partners.We recommend that future programmes seeking to strengthen research capacity should consider targeted strategies for individuals at early, middle and later career stages and should be sensitive to other institutional operations to support both the research and management capacities.