Quality at the heart of decentralisation
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CTA. 1999. Quality at the heart of decentralisation. Spore 84. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/46604
Internet URL: http://spore.cta.int/images/stories/pdf/old/spore84.pdf
Work continues apace on the decentralisation of CTA s Question and Answer Service (QAS). After the establishment of the Southern African service, and the start of work in Eastern Africa led by the Ugandan National Agricultural Research...
Work continues apace on the decentralisation of CTA s Question and Answer Service (QAS). After the establishment of the Southern African service, and the start of work in Eastern Africa led by the Ugandan National Agricultural Research Organisation (see Spore 83), partners have been identified for three other regions. Indian Ocean, Caribbean, West Africa In the Indian Ocean, the Food and Agriculture Research Council of Mauritius will work as the lead institution, and the QAS in the Caribbean will be led by the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute. In West Africa, an area particularly rich in CTA correspondents and subscribers, a recent in-depth study of fourteen institutions has resulted in firm proposals for QAS services to be established in Benin, Chad, Cameroon and Côte d Ivoire. In Benin, the national Faculty of Agronomy has been nominated to run the service, as have the national centres for agricultural research in Chad (CNAR) and Côte d Ivoire (CNRA). In Cameroon, in an appreciable twist to CTA s strategy of developing partnerships in the independent sectors as well as research and governmental circles, the support service for local development initiatives in Cameroon (SAILD), has been chosen. Long-term Spore readers may recall that CTA s own QAS was modelled on QASs developed by Southern and Northern NGOs in agricultural development in the 1970s and 1980s. The key is to be organised, and friendly With the devolution of the QAS, it is expected according to a recent CTA policy document that the regional institutions concerned will build their own capacities to sustain their services in the future . The long-term financial viability of an agricultural information service is often hard to guarantee, but two keys to survival lie in being customer-minded, and well organised. These elements were kept to the forefront in the pilot training course on QAS management, organised by CTA in collaboration with PRAIS, the operator of the Southern Africa QAS (see Spore 80), and held in Bloemfontein, South Africa, from 16 to 20 August 1999. The 14 participants included 12 information professionals from Ethiopia, Fiji, Ghana, Mauritius, Samoa, Seychelles, South Africa, Trinidad & Tobago and Uganda; a statistician from St Lucia and a publisher from Kenya. The course provided participants with approaches, tools and techniques for managing QASs to achieve the common sense goal of serving the right clients with the right information at the right time. These included skills in understanding users needs and characteristics and those of their partners and stakeholders, the need for clearly defined strategies for networking, and the need for improved promotion. Very much part of the normal training package for the New Information Professional, this emphasis on user-friendliness certainly fell on fertile ground; the final recommendations include ideas that many agricultural librarians shuddered at even a decade ago: 'marketing is still very important', 'maintain quality services' and 'ascertain if information was really of use'. The approach (reported upon on the Internet at www.uovs.ac.za/lib/agric/workshop.asp) is the basis of a manual on QAS management which CTA will publish shortly.