The workshop on the teaching and research of trade and poverty held in Tanzania last week led 20 African academics through the entire research process: from the understanding of conceptual issues in the area of trade and poverty, through the formulation of research questions, and the identification of appropriate methodology and data to address them, to the communication of research findings to policymakers.
"I wished to move from the literature knowledge on trade and poverty to practical levels, and I GOT IT," wrote one of the participants in his evaluation of the workshop funded by the governments of Finland and Norway, and organized by UNCTAD's Virtual Institute and Division for Africa, Least Developed Countries and Special Programmes, with contributions from the Division on International Trade in Goods and Services and Commodities.
The objectives of the workshop, held in Dar-es-Salaam November 19-23, were to:
* familiarize participants with the main concepts and arguments related to the trade-poverty debate
* introduce methodological approaches
* discuss access, use and interpretation of data
* identify policy implications
The sessions culminated in a round table on how to strengthen the links between research and policymaking, which counted with the participation of policymakers from Tanzania and a representative from Kenya's high commission.
Many participants stated that they understood the need to involve policymakers in their research work, and some proposed concrete ways of doing so. One participant, who is planning to undertake research on the impact of his country's trade with China, said he would consult with policymakers to identify research questions that would be relevant for the government. Another participant said that her organization advises the Ministry of Trade on policy relevant work and that the workshop will help them in backing up their results and communicating their findings to policymakers.
“I have learnt how to communicate research findings to policymakers: must be direct and relevant, not as technical as for academicians,” another participant said.
Among the participants and resource persons were 20 university teachers and researchers from 11 African countries (Benin, Cameroon, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe). The participants were selected based on their academic experience in the area and the expected benefit of the workshop for their own future work, as well as that of their institutions.
All participants stated that they would use the knowledge and materials distributed at the workshop in their teaching, research and/or work with policymakers. Proposals included incorporating the material into graduate and undergraduate courses on subjects ranging from health systems, to macroeconomics and to research methods.
“I have a passion for poverty research and the missing link that I had before the workshop has now been found.”