IMG_4329_ (2)Learning Alliances are a mix between an online course and a community of practice. They follow a structured course outline, each covering about six topics, delivered over a three month period. Through the private interactive platform, course moderators post discussions and reference material on each topic. Participants engage in peer group discussions, comparing Latin American and African experiences, in order to support learning between the two regions. Each discussion is summarised, and conclusions and lessons identified.


The Alliances have been designed by Latin American and African think tanks and research centres, based on existing literature, and on new comparative research that they have carried out, guided by experts from the UK Institute of Development Studies (IDS). The Learning Alliances will have the participation of these and other experts on each of the global development topics.


An ELLA Learning Alliance:

Is a mix between and online course and a community of practice

Brings together policymakers, practitioners and researchers from Latin America, Africa, and other regions, to engage in a programme of exchange and learning

Promotes networking between individuals and organisations facing common development challenges, encouraging the initiation of collaborative efforts

Works through an interactive platform, email updates, and events and meetings in several countries in Africa and Latin America

New Learning Alliances in 2016

In March 2016, we opened up applications for six new Learning Alliances, which are due to start on 23 May 2016. These will address the following themes

Informality and Inclusive Growth

Land Tenure in Pastoralist Societies

Local content Policies in Oil and Gas Industries

Horizontal Accountability

Community-based Crime Prevention

Domestic Violence

The online learning alliances are designed for:

Professionals who work on themes of the Learning Alliances and are interested in learning and networking with peer experts, policy actors and practitioners

Professionals who are interested in putting change into action as a result of the learning exchange

People who have an interest in sharing their own practices while learning from other regions , networking with a group of peer experts, and have the time to engage actively in the discussions

Participants particularly from African and Latin American countries

How do the online Learning Alliances work?

Each online Learning Alliance is led and moderated by researchers from two ELLA partners, Research Centers that have undertaken a comparative research on the topic of the LEAS (the papers can be found here). The moderators will introduce a set of issues and questions to be addressed, providing supporting reference material to begin the discussion. Members of the Alliance will be asked to review and comment on these issues, and contribute with their own examples and analysis from different countries. At the end of the topic Moderator will post a short analytical document reviewing some of the key issues and commonalities raised in participant contributions. Participants will also have the opportunity to discuss and comment on this analysis.

Overall, the objective will be to gain an improved understanding of good policies and practices, and how these might be relevant and applicable in members’ countries. Participants will receive periodic email notifications of the discussions, but will need to sign in weekly to the ELLA site to make their contributions.

Benefits for participants

Knowledge of policy and practice in Latin America and Africa, and an exchange of experiences between the regions.

Learning the expectation is that all participants will be able to think about how this knowledge could be transformed and applied in their own countries

Networking with public officials, practitioners, researchers and organisations across Latin America, Africa and elsewhere working on similar challenges - providing an opportunity to network and initiate other collaborative efforts.

Certificate a certificate will be awarded to those who contribute to each of the Learning Alliance exchange and learning modules

The ELLA programme is funded by UKAid and there is no cost to join and participate in the learning alliances

Study tour to Latin America – an opportunity for learning through interaction and observation, for selected active members of the Alliance who are based in (and are from) Africa


Applications to join the Learning Alliance are now closed.

Earlier Learning Alliances

During the first phase of ELLA, the programme developed and ran six Learning Alliances, which brought together professionals from across Latin America, Africa and Asia, to learn about and discuss Latin America’s experience on a range of development issues. The objective of the Learning Alliances was to bring together professionals from government, civil society, the private sector, the academic community and the wider development community from outside Latin America, to understand and learn from evidence about development in the continent; and to discern how and where these experiences might have lessons for tackling development challenges in their own countries and contexts. Participants in the Learning Alliances were professionals who either worked on the theme or in an area closely related to it. The six Learning Alliances were on:

Extractive Industries: achieving socially just and environmentally sound investment in mining and energy

Citizen Oversight: practical promotion of citizen oversight of public policies and programmes

Climate Change Adaptation: community-based adaptation in arid and semi-arid regions

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

The Learning Alliances were delivered by the Latin American research centres that had also been responsible for researching and synthesising the ELLA knowledge products on Latin America’s experience of these issues. In this phase of ELLA,the Alliances had several components:

An Online Learning Community which brought together anything between 200 and 450 professionals from across the global south, in the ELLA online space, to follow a structured open learning programme, lasting between three and six months.

National Learning Groups run in parallel with the online discussions, in selected African and South Asian countries, a series of four or five meetings were which brought together professionals from the particular country and, via video link, the researchers from the Latin American research centre which was responsible for leading the Learning Alliance. These groups, typically of 10-20 people, broadly followed the ‘curriculum’ of the online learning programme, but attuned to the particular country’s needs. The meetings were structured so that issues from the online discussions could feed the local debate, and the outcomes from the learning group could feed back into the online discussions.

Study Tours for each Learning Alliance in which a small group of professionals were selected on a competitive basis from among the online and national learning group communities to participate in a study tour to Latin America, to witness first-hand the issues identified and debated during the Learning Alliance. These Ten day study tours to Brazil, Mexico and Peru enabled members to both see and reflect upon the implications of Latin America’s experience for their own countries.

‘Learning into Practice’ Awards a small number of ‘Learning into Practice’ awards were also offered to Learning Alliance members, on a competitive basis, to take forward the learning they had acquired during the Alliance. The awards supported the development of projects and proposals, the onward sharing of ELLA lessons and materials, evidence-based advocacy, as well as further research and analysis. More details on the first six ELLA Learning Alliances can be found in the relevant tab.