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22 September 2019
The DRUSSA programme aims to improve the accessibility, uptake and utilisation of locally contextualised development research evidence on climate change and environment, health, information, education, governance, food security,  and livelihoods to inform sub-Saharan and global development policy and practice.  Policies underpinned by sound research, systematic evaluation and impact assessment, and demonstrable Research Uptake can lead to scientifically based interventions and programmes for poverty reduction and improved quality of life for Africa’s children, women and men.

In the context of policy making and good practice, research-intensive African universities can play an important role by contributing to the contextualised evidence base to address specific development challenges, and by stimulating demand for better and stronger evidence.

African universities’ research capacity is a key resource for policy makers and people working in development, but this capacity is under-resourced and under-utilised, and consequently not fulfilling its potential. There are numerous examples of university-based research that are having an impact on poverty reduction. However, there is also evidence of dynamics at these universities that prevent research being disseminated outside the academic domain, let alone being taken up by individuals and organisations that want and need evidence to tackle development problems.

The initiative aims to strengthen the research management capacity of 22 research-intensive universities in Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Lesotho and South Africa by strengthening their research uptake management capacity, and by strengthening their participation in their nations’ socio-economic development and in the international development scientific research system.

DRUSSA provides direct research capacity strengthening support to universities at individual, institutional and systems levels to undertake and disseminate high quality research efficiently and effectively. A second important – but distinct – element of capacity strengthening is the capacity to use research which is being addressed by a sub-programme that is engaging with ministries.

The outcome of the DRUSSA programme will be the establishment of sustainable strategic Research Uptake Management (RUM) capacity and capability in SSA universities. Trained specialist university Research Uptake Managers will be able to support researchers to plan and incorporate activities into development research programmes that in turn will lead to research evidence being accessible to and useable by the targeted beneficiaries for each programme.  Each participating university will be able to develop an institution-level research uptake strategy and put in place Research Uptake Management and monitoring processes to optimise the effectiveness of university relations with, and response to, its stakeholders’ needs and demands for research evidence.  

The outputs will be:
  • At least 40 university staff from 24 universities certified as specialist Research Uptake Managers.
  • At least 85 university staff from the 24 and other SSA universities certified through continuous professional development in Research Uptake Management.
  • At least 20 M.Phil graduates (from universities, research institutions, government departments and to development NGOs) with a specialisation in evaluation and impact assessment (REI), with the particular focus on undertaking evaluation and assessment of development research programmes, and university development research uptake portfolios.
  • At least 24 universities in Sub-Saharan Africa embed research uptake management in their organisational and institutional practices through leadership engagement, training and benchmarking.
  • Systematically documented and shared evidence of uptake and utilisation of research.
  • An established, active, engaged and sustainable network of researchers and research uptake specialists, specialised in making research evidence accessible and useable, and engaged in the international development research system.

The five-year programme was established in October 2011 following a two-year design and development phase.  It has been designed to consolidate and strengthen existing capacity that can be sustained in the long term by the universities and their stakeholders.  In support of this,  at organisational level the programme facilitates a shared learning and change process adapted to suit the context of each of the participating universities aimed at embedding sustainable changes that operationalise the universities’ mission, vision and strategies.  For indvidual research managers and administrators who are actively involved in implementing the changes  there is a portfolio of accredited post-graduate level courses, and to support  practice there are in-service and remote facilitated coaching activities and a shared digital platform, is an information resource for networks and stakeholders  principally located in Sub-Saharan Africa, but also internationally. Finally in support of SSA regional  research management systems the programme engages with professional and special interest networks to raise awareness about university research uptake management and to provide training opportunities.

In 2014 a supplementary three-year pilot project commenced in two countries,  to support ‘demand-side’ capacity of selected Ministries in Ghana and Uganda. The pilot is built on the understanding that policies underpinned by a sound evaluation of research evidence lead to higher impact interventions and programmes. In conjunction with implementing partners in Ghana  and Uganda, the project will collaborate with six development focused government ministries to strengthen demand-side capacity. The implementing bodies in Ghana are the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research – Science and Technology Institute (STEPRI) and the University of Ghana Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER).  In Uganda the implementing partners are the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology and Makerere University’s Economic Policy  Research Centre. 

The DRUSSA Programme partnership consists of three entities:
  • The Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) London, UK (lead);
  • The Centre for Research into Evaluation, Science and Technology (CREST) at the University of Stellenbosch South Africa; 
  • Organisation Systems Design (OSD), Cape Town South Africa.
This programme is funded by UKAID.