9 May 2017

Fragile Futures–project shares research results with key stakeholders in Ouagadougou

“Thank you for coming back to us  and sharing your research results on the ground their practical implications on the ground”, that was the main message from the Minister of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Innovation, Prof. Alkassoum Maïga, “It does not happen very often that researchers find time to discuss the practical implications of their findings”. The Minister addressed the Fragile Futures-team at a dissemination workshop which was held in Ouagadougou on April 25, 2017, almost five years after the project officially began. Since then 3 PhDs have successfully defended their thesis, another one is on its way, 2 Post Docs have worked on the project, 3 Master students have successfully defined their Master thesis, 10 peer reviewed articles have been published and 7 policy briefs have been developed and distributed.

The participants all together.

If the Minister had made a special effort to be at this particular workshop, it could be explained by the fact that he is the supervisor of one of its Burkinabe PhD students, Yacouba Cissao, enrolled at the University of Ouagadougou. Prof Maïga emphasized in his address that the Fragile Futures-project has done a good job in promoting collaborative research between the universities of Ouagadougou and Copenhagen right from the outset. He recognized ‘la force tranquille’ of Helle Samuelsen, principal investigator and grant holder, in particular her steady determination of promoting equal institutional grounding of this project and in contributing to the development of a PhD program at the University of Ouagadougou. Prior to the Fragile Futures project, there had only been one Burkinabe student who had been rewarded the PhD degree from the university, thus the “Fragile Future” project contributes to breaking new grounds for research capacity building at the University of Ouagadougou. 

Danish Ambassador Ulla Næsby Tawiah expressed her full support to this kind of collaborative research which she hoped to see more of in the future. She emphasized that Denmark supports higher education and research in its partner countries, especially with a view of fostering high quality evidence which can inform development policy as well as promoting capacity development among key democratic institutions such as the university.

The Fragile Futures dissemination workshop gathered a broad range of key stakeholders from the two provinces where data collection took place, Boulgou and Houet. The stake holders included the Préfets  from both provinces, the district chief medical officers, representatives from the provincial water and  agriculture departments as well as the Danish NGO Børnefonden.

The participants at the workshop.

The project sat out to explore the relations between state and society in rural areas, seen from a village perspective in order to identify ways that public services could be better at fostering a sense of connection to the state by people living under harsh conditions of material limitation and poverty. One finding across the three different work packages ( health, water provision and institutional conflict management) was the key role of trust and trustworthiness in fostering demand for services offered by the public sector. When people find they have reasons to trust in the fair treatment and the quality offered from local healthcare centre or the first instance court, they are more likely to seek help there.  Currently there is some level of trust in these public services but it is fragile and constantly tested and negotiated. One way it could be strengthen was for the state to invest in the relations competences, e.g. communication skills, of these front line bureaucrats who have direct contact with citizens in the rural areas and therefore come to represent the state in areas with little visible manifestations of the state. 

This workshop is the first step in a in a wider dissemination strategy which also includes regional workshops the capital, the research findings will be shared with local stakeholders in two workshops in Bobo Dialosso and Tenkodogo.

The Fragile Futures project has been fully financed by Danida (project no 11-014KU) and implemented in collaboration between the Department of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen, le GRIL (Groupe de Recherche sur les Initiatives Locale) at the University of Ouagadougou and Institut de Recherche en Sciences de la Santé, Bobo-Dioulasso. The involved researchers are Helle Samuelsen (PI), Gabin Korbeogo, GRIL, Lea Toé Paré (IRSS/DRO), David Ilboudou, Yacouba Cissao, Issa Sombié, Lise Rosendal Østergaard, Pia Juul Bjertrup, Amalie Kjær Kristiansen and Geeske  Koistra. The two Burkinabe PhD students who already have defended their thesis are now employed at the University of Ouagadougou and at the Higher Institution of Population Sciences.

The project rearched media interest.

From the Burkinabé media: http://lefaso.net/spip.php?article76854