A global agricultural research-for-development partnership against desertification

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Origin of Oasis: the Desertification, Drought, Poverty and Agriculture (DDPA) Challenge Programme candidate

The CGIAR Challenge Program mechanism was established at CGIAR Annual General Meeting in October 2001 as a major pillar of the CGIAR System's reform process. Through Challenge Programs, the CGIAR intends to 'elevate its game' by engaging in larger research programs addressing major international challenges through broader global partnerships.

Two CGIAR Centers, ICARDA and ICRISAT tackle issues facing the temperate-zone and tropical drylands, respectively. Thus it was natural that they join forces as the co-convening institutions for the DDPA. The DDPA originated in 2002 as a concept submitted for consideration to become a CGIAR Challenge Program. ICARDA and ICRISAT began partnership-building for the DDPA by initiating an internet discussion. More than 300 thoughtful contributions were posted by more than 100 scientists from around the world.

The consultation was crystallized in an intensive workshop hosted by ICARDA in Aleppo, Syria during 4-6 August 2002. This workshop was made possible through funding provided by the UNCCD Global Mechanism, IFAD, ICRISAT and ICARDA. More than 40 experts including UNEP-GEF, UNDP, IDRC, NARS from regional and subregional networks across Africa and Asia, the IUCN, universities, six CGIAR Centers, and several advanced research institutions participated. The workshop developed the DDPA's strategy and focus.

These inputs were formulated into the pre-proposal that was submitted to the Challenge Program mechanism in 2002. The knowledge emerging from the workshop, plus additional literature review were consolidated into a state-of-the-art review and assessment paper outlining the status, needs and priorities for research on desertification, drought, poverty and agriculture across the developing world. Much of the material in this website derives from these efforts.

The DDPA was adjudged 'Meritorious' by the Challenge Program process in late 2002 but the CGIAR decided to place the approval process for all candidate programs on hold in order to monitor the progress of the four previously-established Challenge Programs.

Enthusiastic about their new collaboration they had established and the significance of the problem they had come together to tackle, the DDPA partners agreed to continue to operate together as a Consortium until the moratorium was lifted in mid-2006. The DDPA was then transformed into Oasis for re-submission as a Challenge Programme candidate.



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