From its inception, RENEWAL has sought to enhance and sustain policy impact through pro-actively establishing links between locally-prioritized research, capacity strengthening and policy communications. The capacity strengthening dimension of RENEWAL is multi-dimensional, stressing the importance of empowering individuals and institutions through thematic and technical knowledge enhancement and experience. Capacity here refers not only to the capacity to do high-quality research, but also to the capacity to make effective use of such research through targeted advocacy and communications - the two are linked.
The evolution of RENEWAL as a research-policy "network of networks" has itself been a capacity strengthening process. RENEWAL started life in late 2001 as a 'hub-and-spoke' network wherein national networks were essentially in two-way communications with the IFPRI/ISNAR hub - essentially a North-South linkage. Four years later, it can be characterized more as a 'spider web' network where South-South communications between different national networks and between national networks and other partners/networks are increasing in breadth and depth. RENEWAL's governance model demonstrates the primacy of local ownership and capacity development, while recognizing the broader regional and international links through the network.
Emerging from the past five years of activity and in consultation with national partners and stakeholders, RENEWAL has developed an explicit strategy for capacity strengthening. A number of core areas have been identified including:
- thematic and technical knowledge,
- research skills,
- policy communications and impact,
- resource mobilization, and
- network development and sustainability
RENEWAL 3 activities focused on addressing the specific needs of the National Coordinators and National Advisory Panels in RENEWAL’s hub countries. Specific activities included trainings research methods, presentation skills, scientific writing, policy brief development, and stakeholder and network analysis for policy impact.