ODINAFRICA-III and the FUST review

Major outcomes of the FUST Evaluation

The external evaluation of the Flanders UNESCO Science Trust fund projects undertaken in October 2007 concluded that that “Phase II of the Flanders UNESCO Science Trust Fund (FUST) has been largely successful both at individual program level and collectively. Overall, individual programs have been well managed and highly effective. All of the programs managed to achieve their desired results, deliver the expected outcome, and contribute to capacity building within their respective mandates………….”  The evaluators in particular strongly recommended the continuation of the ODINAFRICA project, and declared that “……The current success of ODINAFRICA III warrants the continuation of the FUST Agreement. ODINAFRICA III is an ambitious project, with many components and data and information centres of widely varying capabilities. It is making good progress and has begun to deliver new data streams and data products. In fact, this is a critical stage, infrastructure is in place, but further funding is required to ensure the long term sustainability of the different activities.[1]

The evaluators pointed out that although significant progress was made in achieving the general objectives and with specific project deliverables, in any future project care should be taken to ensure that the resources are not spread too thinly, perhaps focusing on a smaller number of activities.

Within ODINAFRICA the (human) networks developed through the training courses and sub-projects are of great importance and have lead to greater cooperation and collaboration between partners. ODINAFRICA is an underpinning and cross cutting activity supporting both research and policy. Links with organizations and projects active in Africa (eg UNEP, WIOMSA, ASCLME, SWIOFP, ACCC …) are strong and ODINAFRICA will provide the infrastructure for managing the data collected by operational systems (e.g. sea level stations) and has already made significant progress in developing marine atlases which are an aid to assessment and management of the marine and coastal zone.

Training the trainers is an important tool in multiplying the impacts of FUST support. Within the ODINAFRICA project this is just beginning to be exploited, with some of those trained by ODINAFRICA training courses now training others in their institutes, and setting up training courses for others in their country.

A further important lesson learned in ODINAFRICA has been that in capacity building one size does not fit all: from the start ODINAFRICA has provided quite some flexibility for each country to use the provided support and resources to serve, first of all, national priorities. Though this flexibility ensured that each country could maximize its benefit from ODINAFRICA, and has been a major contributing factor to the success of the project, it also means that the countries have progressed at very different paces. It is therefore important that a comprehensive national survey be undertaken at the commencement of the next phase to assess the capacity available in each of the countries.

The evaluators recommended the continued expansion of the network, noting that the trained and experienced experts from the institutions already in network can be utilized to provide initial training and acting as mentors for any new countries joining the project. They also noted that regional leadership mechanisms (in contrast to national and African wide) should be developed as these would be bring together countries with similar priorities, and enable them develop and implement relevant programmes together.

The evaluators concluded that ODINAFRICA-III has grown from a data and information management project developing infrastructure and strongly rooted in IODE, to a more integrated approach bringing IODE together with GOOS (e.g. GLOSS, real time data stream from tide gauges), and ICAM, although this latter activity needs to be further developed. The  phase should further develop this approach with a greater emphasis on products and services building on the marine atlases as a coastal zone management tool and on the tide gauge data for tidal predictions and storm surge modeling, as well as for sea level research.


[1] The Flanders UNESCO Science Trust Fund: An External Evaluation Report (March 2004 – March 2007), Lesley Rickards and Bisher Imam, October 2007.

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