Spain: A collaborative effort in development cooperation

It is a common belief that that academicians and development practitioners live in two separate worlds which only occasionally intersect. In Spain, Jesuit universities and development NGOs are making a real effort to overcome this dichotomy and find means of fruitful collaboration. An example of such collaboration is the working group on development cooperation promoted by UNIJES, the Spanish federation of Jesuit universities. The group, coordinated by Fr Ildefonso Camacho SJ, not only includes researchers and professors but also representatives from the four Spanish NGOs associated with the Society. In February, approximately 30 working group members participated in a two-day seminar with a double objective: acquiring the tools to increase the effectiveness of evidence-based advocacy; and concurrently, identifying more areas for collaboration between the participating university centres and NGOs. Bridging the gap between research and development policy is one of the main challenges facing researchers and practitioners engaged in development cooperation, a task that calls for collaboration among all involved. The seminar, with its highly participatory focus, was facilitated by an expert from Overseas Development Institute (UK), well-known for its specialization in policy research and advocacy. While the first part was methodological ? devoted to analysing and testing different problem-solving techniques in small groups, the second part was devoted to help group members identify the possibilities of joint collaboration, a task about which the participants, despite obvious difficulties, seemed enthusiastic. To learn more about RAPID, ODI?s programme for Research and Policy in Development, go to: http:// www.odi.org.uk/RAPID/Index.html