Asia, is home for 67% of World’s poor and 63% of World’s hungry. Labor available is old or unskilled, and agriculture in particular is subjected to Feminization. For cultural and economic reasons, land fragmentation continues, so is the land leased or share-cropped, resulting in a decline of the resource base. A range of basic needs such as the right to nutritive food, clean water for drinking, decent shelter, and access to basic health facilities are still at a distance to millions. Ironically, it is also the continent where rapid economic progress is underway. There’s a vast number of intellectuals, researchers and scientists, who understand complex issues withholding equitable development in their respective countries. Financial resources available to their research organizations far exceed resources that may be brought in by an International Research Institute. Under such circumstances, how can an International Institute add value to ongoing development processes?
In the following paragraphs, I will attempt to pen my thoughts.
- Planning institutions must be the entry point. Most Asian countries have Planning institutions, and have plans developed through painstaking process of consultations. By understanding what the Government has already committed to, and by adding value to ongoing development activities, the impact of an international institute will be immediate.
- Identify demand for knowledge. Development issues which have not progressed due to a lack of scientific understanding, and have constrained policy development are doorways for International Research Institutes.
- Engage in (or facilitate) a dialogue which may influence the country’s development program. Identify key decision makers and understand social and political dividends they seek through development.
- Be the window to the world. By exposing potential solutions adapted successfully in other countries with similar issues, the International Institute could influence the thought processes, and avoid implementation of ‘failed’ programs/solutions.
- Recognize advantages an International Research Institute have over National Institutes, such as (1) National institutes are bounded by various government protocols, which will not bind an International Research Institutes; (2) Often the National Institutes lack a relatively small resource, which could be catalytic to their productivity. These catalysts are easily obtainable to international institutes; (3) Most of their researchers are subjected to the performance and rewards system, which tends to reward academic excellence, not, necessarily rewarding research that may lead development at home.