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Central Asian and Afghan researchers complete applied research training through Innovative Fellowship Programme
Kyrgyzstan | science | 12:59, 01 July 2016 | 6109

AKIPRESS.COM - IMG_1The University of Central Asia’s Mountain Societies Research Institute (UCA MSRI) convened the final Central Asia and Afghanistan Research Fellowship (CAARF) workshop for ten Central Asian and Afghan scholars to document their diverse research into policy recommendations.

This was the capstone of the three-year programme, dedicated to improving the capacity of regional researchers. CAARF is implemented as part of the Research and Public Policy Initiative (RPPI) supported by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in Ottawa and Aga Khan Foundation Canada.

The Fellows of this inaugural programme researched climate change and natural resource governance; mountain livelihoods, remittances, and labour migration; disaster risk reduction; and other region-crucial fields concerning the economic, social and environmental impact of development on mountain societies.

CAARF builds trans-disciplinary research networks by pairing Fellows with international mentors and peers from different backgrounds. Fellows are a select group of promising researchers from Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Afghanistan. A direct goal of CAARF is to produce high quality research relevant to challenges facing the region.

Experts challenged participants to draw key policy messages from their research findings, to communicate scientific facts effectively, and to employ gender-sensitive thinking. Technical sessions introduced Geographic Information Systems (GIS) tools and social network analysis to enable researchers to extend the impact of their work.

With the majority of Fellows’ analysis completed, this workshop focussed on translating their academic research into policy briefs for distribution to key stakeholders in government, academia, civil society, and the private sector. The style and clarity of their presentation was evaluated for its appeal to a diverse group of decision makers. Trainers provided one-on-one feedback, delivered lectures, and conducted role play and group exercises, including facilitating participants to craft a 45-second pitch of their research.

Participants are uniquely positioned as experts in the local context to apply their research to environmental issues directly impacting their home countries. Researcher Wasim Iqbal examined drought forecasting in Afghanistan’s Amu Darya River Basin to design appropriate management strategies for agricultural water. He will deliver his findings and policy recommendations to the Afghan Ministry of Energy and Water, where he works as an advisor to the Minister. Iqbal partnered with mentor Dr Anthony Kiem, an expert in water resource management, hydrological modelling, and climate variability from the University of Newcastle, Australia.

CAARF mentors include university faculty from the United States, Canada, Germany and Russia.

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