Building capacity for research

[Photo: Pexels]

Written by Elizabeth Dartnall1, Anik Gevers2 and Diana Arango3

SVRI1, Independent Consultant: VAWG Prevention & Gender Equality Specialist2, World Bank Group3

Innovative research from low and middle-income countries (LMICs) on effectiveness of GBV prevention efforts and how to sustain them at scale is a continuing need.  Limited capacity in the global South for rigorous, comparable research on GBV prevention and intervention development, and few opportunities for South-South partnerships and learning are barriers to the further development of the field. The SVRI supports research in LMICs through SVRI Grants and SVRI World Bank Group Development Marketplace Awards.  Our experience has shown us that there is a need for greater resources to be invested in capacity building alongside on-granting.  Whilst on-granting is of immense value to the field and should continue, the field must develop more long term amplified on-granting models that address GBV research capacity gaps.

Different models for research capacity building can be explored. One model the SVRI has successfully used in the past is a South-South collaboration for building capacity in East Africa on VAW and VAC prevention research and intervention adaptation, development and testing (Dartnall & Gevers, 2017)[i]. From 2013 to 2015, with funding from the Oak Foundation and an anonymous donor, the SVRI provided intensive mentoring and technical advice to four multi-sectoral teams based in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania to develop or adapt and undertake preliminary proof of concept testing of GBV primary prevention interventions. This initiative is unique. It was Southern driven and Southern owned with a focus on supporting local organisations to develop interventions informed by local contexts for the primary prevention of GBV by building on the existing evidence base. It provided partners with skills and confidence to advocate for the inclusion of primary prevention interventions for GBV in national violence prevention policies and ongoing programming plans. In this way, leadership, expertise, and commitment to GBV prevention is developed within regions which can drive the work forward through continued innovation in research, policy advocacy, and scale up.

The on-granting model remains vital to the field, however, moving forward we should consider complementing it with on-granting mechanisms that incorporate intensive capacity building activities and technical assistance throughout the grant period, including:

  • In-depth assessment of grantees’ relevant capacities and provision of comprehensive technical assistance throughout the project;
  • Research uptake and dissemination skills for stakeholder engagement;
  • Development of communities of practice among grantees;
  • Targeted training/e-learning for grantees;
  • Hosting regular smaller meetings to share findings and lessons learnt, and support all grantees to attend the SVRI Forum; and,
  • Building relationships with other funders and partners to support the extension or expansion of research projects.
  • Funds for learning tours/shadowing among grantees at different stages of research;

There is increased awareness among policy-makers, funders and others that evidence is needed to inform their work. We must build on this opportunity by providing effective, yet practical solutions based on rigorous evidence for ensuring women and children live lives free from violence and oppression. On-granting and multicomponent capacity building are two important strategies to achieve this.



[i] Dartnall, E., & Gevers, A. (2017). Harnessing the power of South-South partnerships to build capacity for the prevention of sexual and intimate partner violence. African Safety Promotion Journal, 15(1), 1-15.


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