By Henry Hunga
The Malawi 2020 policy Summer School was a success, and is now the second Summer School to have been held there. BRECcIA’s first Summer School was held in the second week of July 2019 in localities near Lilongwe, Malawi. The objective then was to train Early Career Researchers (ECRs) from various disciplines, with different skill sets to work holistically in an interdisciplinary setting through community participation. This approach has become critical of late as most projects are using multidisciplinary approaches in addressing complex problems like climate change and food security faced by rural communities in developing nations.
The 2020 Summer School, held early November, was mostly virtual due to travel restrictions following the Covid-19 global pandemic. The 2020 Summer School was aimed at preparing ECRs who are at an advanced stage in data collection and analysis of their Small Research Projects (SRP) to be able to link research to policy and practice at different levels from national, international, to global. Part of the virtual sessions were spent on development of content and designing policy briefs based on scientific evidence using simplified language. This culminated in a one day face to face interface on 3rd November 2020 with policy makers including those from National Planning Commission and Centre for Environmental Policy and Advocacy in Salima to share the preliminary findings from the SRPs and how they could inform policy. The Policy makers made their contributions to the presentations through thorough and open discussions that will help the ECRs finalise the policy briefs. Further networks were formed as the invited policymakers proved to be well versed with the BRECcIA work being undertaken in Malawi, including work in the Lake Chilwa basin and the national seed sector policy framework. Other than Malawi, Kenya and Ghana have also recently had their face to face interfaces with their respective policy makers.