EANLAR Phase I (2013-2015)

Since the start of the East African Network of Learning of Administrators and Researchers (EANLAR), the International Center for Development and Decent Work (ICDD) and its partner universities in Kenya and Uganda have developed a coherent network which has successfully started the process of optimizing and professionalizing the financial administration of internationally funded projects and increasing intercultural understanding of administrative processes in different countries.

During the first phase of our project, we developed an understanding of the ways the different partners and the different stakeholders manage third party funded projects. In the kick off workshop hosted by the University of Kassel, the main aim was to introduce the partners of the core team and understand the work they do, the processes they are following and the interaction they have within their institution, including the finance administration of third party funds at the University of Kassel. This introduction already proved how important it was to bring FAs and PIs together. The core team that includes Egerton University from Kenya as well as the International University of East Africa (IUEA) and Makerere University from Uganda developed a concept for the two network workshops in Kenya and Uganda. Before each workshop, a questionnaire was administered to a number of universities in Kenya and Uganda with a view to understanding the unique picture of third party funding at each university. The universities answering the questionnaire were invited to the network conferences. The workshop at Egerton University in 2013 was an important step to expand and deepen the EANLAR network activities to 15 universities in Kenya. During the workshop, common challenges in the administration of third party funded research projects were identified and best practice examples of integrity promotion were discussed. Furthermore, the establishment of a joint Internet platform (EANLAR WIKI) and the joint  development of a handbook for and by finance administrators were decided. As an important achievement in the inclusion of external stakeholders, Linah Linan from the Commission for University Education (CUE), formerly the Commission for Higher Education, in Kenya was won as support for the EANLAR project by officially inviting all Kenyan universities to join the network.

The workshop at IUEA in 2014 successfully expanded the EANLAR network to 11 universities in Uganda. During the workshop, common challenges and a deeper understanding about the relations between PIs and administrators were identified. The EANLAR Handbook chapters written by Kenyan members were revised and the Ugandan perspective added by Ugandan members. The participation of Margaret Kirai from DAAD enabled a deeper understanding of
the donor perspective as an important process owner. What started as a partnership between two universities (Kassel and Egerton) expanded to a
network of 15 universities in Kenya and 11 universities in Uganda. All workshops addressed the topic of integrity promotion and gave examples of good practice form the respective university policies.

In a second workshop at Egerton University in Kenya in 2014, the progress of the EANLAR handbook was revised and discussed. The Wikispace, an internet communication platform developed by Florian Dörr from the EANLAR team Kassel was presented. Participants were trained in the use of the internet platform in order to communicate and further develop and distribute learning materials created, share calls for application and useful templates. Another manual for PIs and FAs can be seen there. During all these workshops, participants emphasized the commonality of challenges in the administration of third party funded research projects and in the relation between PIs and FAs as well as the need to disseminate best practice scenarios and examples of lessons learned.

A final workshop, which was held in Kassel in 2015, included a first reflection of the results of EANLAR which gave us the opportunity to share our findings with colleagues from German universities cooperating with universities in Africa. This conference brought the first phase of this project to a close. With the project work we have done so far, we are sure that the EANLAR network will continue after the end of the project, especially since the University of Egerton has identified a person that is already administering the Wikispace for the network. With the further development of this very important communication tool, EANLAR will continue.

The request of the partners in the EANLAR project is that the network should expand and provide resources and trainings for financial administrators within the entire East African region so that East African universities can better manage and address the daily processes involved in handling third party research funds.