ELLA mixes research, exchange and learning to inspire development policies and practices that are grounded in evidence about what works in varied country contexts.
Conducts rigorous research, synthesising existing evidence and researching evidence gaps, undertaken by researchers from countries in the ‘global south’
Organises and runs exchange and learning programmes – called ELLA Learning Alliances – that connect these researchers and the users of the research, across these countries, to enable the debate of evidence and lessons;
Supports the growth of topic specific networks to promote continuous learning between individuals, organisations and countries – through the joint research and the exchange and learning programmes.
Geographic Focus: To date ELLA has been orientated to researching and sharing evidence and lessons from Latin America with people, organisations and countries in Africa and South Asia. This remains a strong focus, but the programme has evolved to allow more ‘multi-way’ research and sharing, to facilitate the exchange of lessons between very varied country contexts.
Thematic Focus: Thematically, ELLA has focused on economic development, governance and environmental management, and within these areas on themes and topics in which Latin America is perceived to have valuable lessons to share with the rest of the developing world. Specific topics have been identified through a research process involving surveys and discussion with potential research users, expert interview, and literature review.
The current phase of ELLA has evolved to involve collaborative research between six pairs of Latin American and African research centres, who are undertaking joint comparative research on six development topics:
Fedesarrrollo, Colombiaand the Development Policy Research Unit (DPRU), Cape Town University, South Africaare researching Informality and Inclusive Growth;
Fundar, Mexico and the Centre for Gender Studies and Advocacy (CEGENSA), University of Ghana are researching Domestic Violence.
Each research centre is drawing on the literature relevant to their region, and conducting some new data collection and analysis. Research design and methods papers have been prepared, and can be found in the Publications Library. These will lead on to regional research papers, with each pair of research centres using the shared design and methods framework, to enable the subsequent production of a unified comparative research paper.
Overlapping with this research cycle, each pair plans to produce communication and learning materials and run a Learning Alliance, centred on the research topic, to enable exchange and learning tailored to interested researchers, government officials, civil society, private sector and development officials in Latin American and African countries.
Coordination and Support: The programme has been designed and is coordinated by Practical Action Consulting (PAC) Latin America, in line with the objectives agreed with the funder, the UK Department for International Development (DFID), UK Aid. PAC is also responsible for supporting the twelve Latin American and African research centres on research uptake, including research communication and the design and management of the Learning Alliances. The Institute for Development Studies (IDS), Sussex University, UK, leads on support on research design, methods and outputs. Research will be peer reviewed.
During this period, ELLA synthesised evidence on Latin American countries’ recent experiences in some 21 themes, covering some 80 topics, in economic development, environmental management and governance. Some of the experiences researched were innovative, while others were more ‘tried and tested’. The themes and topics were chosen on the basis that Latin America was perceived to have valuable lessons to share with the rest of the developing world in these areas.
In the Publications Library, the Guides provide an overview of the theme, Briefs give a more in-depth focus on particular topics and Spotlights provide links to key relevant knowledge organisations and publications. All the existing ELLA knowledge material can be browsed in the Publications Library.
During 2012-2013, ELLA also ran six Learning Alliances between researchers, practitioners and policymakers from across Latin America, Africa and Asia:
Extractive Industries: achieving socially just and environmentally sound investment in mining and energy;
Climate Change Adaptation: community-based adaptation in arid and semi-arid regions;
Citizen Oversight: promotion of citizen oversight of public policies and programmes;
Small-scale Farming: practical steps in promoting small-scale sustainable farming and rural development;
Human Rights: steps in building institutions that promote and defend human rights;
Climate Resilient Cities: identifying best practices and methodologies for making cities more resilient to climate change.
More details on the content and outcome of these Learning Alliances can be found in the ELLA Learning Alliances tab, and on the Learning Alliances page.
Lesson and Reflections, of a practical nature, on the design and implementation of the first phase of ELLA can be seen in this report ELLA 1 Lessons and Reflections Report (Aug 2014). A Monitoring and Evaluation account of the activities, outputs, outcomes and impacts of the first phase of ELLA through to late 2013 can be found in this report ELLA 1 M&E Report (Nov 2013).