The Institute for Environment and Sanitation studies (IESS) at the United Nations University (UNU) conference room, University of Ghana, hosted the meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to review activities undertaken within 2015 and to discuss the research activities for 2016. The meeting brought together ASSAR investigators, technical officers and students from University of Ghana, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT; based in Mali) and Global Change System for Analysis Research and Training (START; based in Washington, DC). Discussions were focused on the Regional Research Plans (RRP), students’ research methodologies and the integration of Transformative Scenario Planning (TSP), the Research into Use (RiU) process, mental modeling, and Livelihood as Intimate Governance (LIG) approaches into ASSAR's research activities.
On day one of the meeting, ICRISAT and University of Ghana presented updates on the first phase of the RRP and examined the timelines for Years 2 and 3 of their research activities in Mali and Ghana, respectively. The students also presented their research plans and timelines of their field activities and the challenges they have faced so far in the process. During a breakout session, the ASSAR-WA team worked with students to revise their research proposals and assisted them to fine-tune the field methodologies depending on their proposed research objectives. The relevance of research methodologies such as LIG and mental modeling were explored to identify possibilities of integrating them into student field activities. The ASSAR West Africa team and students agreed upon the timelines for the commencement of field activities and the deadlines for the submission of final research work and submission of articles to peer review journals. Both Ghana and Mali teams were encouraged to assist students and their supervisors to work within the timelines agreed upon by the team.
The second and final day of the meeting presented an opportunity for participants to extensively discuss the TSP phasing and the stakeholder mapping exercises. Timelines for stakeholder engagements at each level of the TSP process within 2016 were settled. The progress of the RiU process and its expectations were also discussed. Other issues discussed included the miscellaneous research budget, research ethics and approvals for photography, including permission requirements and its challenges. The forthcoming ASSAR annual meeting and capacity needs for the ASSAR-WA team were also deliberated upon.The meeting concluded with deliberations on output deadlines for the RDS communication products including a governance paper, info briefs on climate change adaptation barriers and enablers and the visualization of the research key gaps. Participants expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the meeting and particularly looked forward to achieving the project objectives within the given timelines.