4
Capacity Building

Capacity building is identified as a major component of the research plan, but very little in the way of specifics is presented. This is not an easy problem to solve, and many people and groups have wrestled with it; however, there are some things that are known and should be specifically identified in the plan. For this reason, guidance on methods for implementing and criteria for assessing capacity building should be incorporated in the plan and should not be in a separate document or appendix (which this committee has not seen).

The draft plan defines capacity building well (pp. 86-87),1 but it does not articulate how capacity building will be incorporated within, or as part of, an RFP or as part of the program as a whole. Some questions that the AYK SSI needs to ask investigators to evaluate research proposals include the following:

  • How will capacity building be incorporated into the proposed research plan?

  • How will capacity building be achieved?

1  

“[Capacity building is] the process by which rural/Tribal groups, organizations, and NGOs expand and develop technical and administrative abilities, enabling them to participate in a range of fisheries research activities to the maximum level they desire.” The Steering Committee also adopted the United Nations Development Program’s definition of “capacity” as “the ability of individuals and organizations or organizational units to perform functions effectively, efficiently and sustainably.”



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Review of the Draft Research and Restoration Plan for Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (Western Alaska) Salmon 4 Capacity Building Capacity building is identified as a major component of the research plan, but very little in the way of specifics is presented. This is not an easy problem to solve, and many people and groups have wrestled with it; however, there are some things that are known and should be specifically identified in the plan. For this reason, guidance on methods for implementing and criteria for assessing capacity building should be incorporated in the plan and should not be in a separate document or appendix (which this committee has not seen). The draft plan defines capacity building well (pp. 86-87),1 but it does not articulate how capacity building will be incorporated within, or as part of, an RFP or as part of the program as a whole. Some questions that the AYK SSI needs to ask investigators to evaluate research proposals include the following: How will capacity building be incorporated into the proposed research plan? How will capacity building be achieved? 1   “[Capacity building is] the process by which rural/Tribal groups, organizations, and NGOs expand and develop technical and administrative abilities, enabling them to participate in a range of fisheries research activities to the maximum level they desire.” The Steering Committee also adopted the United Nations Development Program’s definition of “capacity” as “the ability of individuals and organizations or organizational units to perform functions effectively, efficiently and sustainably.”

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Review of the Draft Research and Restoration Plan for Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (Western Alaska) Salmon How will success (or progress) in capacity building be assessed? The draft plan needs to identify benefits of capacity building, which can include improved community participation in research, the training of rural scientists, creating a training component, and reinforcing the intrinsic responsibilities of stewardship and pride of ownership with resource conservation. Perhaps the most important principle is that the communities themselves should provide advice on how best to build their capacity. This reflects the broader principle that communities should be involved in programs and projects from the beginning. These advantages should be clearly articulated in the research and restoration plan, which should also state whether money is to be specifically set aside for capacity building. Capacity building should either be required or viewed as an important criterion for approval in all RFPs. RFPs should state prominently that proposals with capacity building components will be strongly encouraged. There should be milestones that allow the AYK SSI to measure success in capacity building. Milestone measurements might vary with categories of RFPs approved (for example, a multiyear program vs. a single-year program) We suggest the following specific examples of capacity building programs (tribal programs, science camps, including communities in graduate student research) that might be useful for the AYK SSI to consider and to learn from Native American Fish and Wildlife Society Native American Vocational Training and Educational Program Alaska Sea-Life Center The Kuskokwim Native Association—NOAA partnership The NSF’s Native Education Program The NSF’s Tribal College-University Program Initiative EDUCATIONAL CAPACITY BUILDING The importance of capacity building in Native communities has been addressed in the research plan, but specific educational components have not. Education is arguably the most lasting component of capacity

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Review of the Draft Research and Restoration Plan for Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (Western Alaska) Salmon building, and therefore it should be addressed by the plan. When this NRC committee visited Native communities, presenters frequently spoke about education. Unalakleet in particular demonstrated community commitment to K-12 and higher education. Developing technical capacity among Native communities to enable them to become co-managers of the resource is a priority of the draft AYK research plan. The development of that capacity requires that a few members of the community possess extensive educational and technical training. Although the plan states this as a goal, it is likely to be difficult to achieve because at least some co-managers should hold advanced degrees in resource management or fishery science. The NSF has addressed the issue of encouraging members of minority groups to gain proficiency in natural sciences in a series of publications, and its approach has had some success. The NSF has funded specific programs that encourage K-12 and undergraduate science education. For undergraduates, NSF funds research experience programs (Research Experience for Undergraduates [REU]) to supplement its research grants. The REU provides additional funds specifically for mentoring students and promoting their participation through direct experience. Advantages of this approach include its encouragement of young people to enter careers in science and its selection of investigators who are genuinely interested in science education, because their participation is voluntary. More specifically, the Kuskokwim campus of the University of Alaska Fairbanks has a 5-year grant under the NSF’s Tribal College-University Program Initiative. The grant is to increase campus course offerings and student interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. We recommend that the AYK Research and Restoration Plan include an education component designed to encourage interest in resource management. This should be done by providing supplements to funded grants or by giving priority to relevant grant proposals that include well-planned research experiences for high-school and undergraduate students. This recommendation is consistent with (and influenced by) NSF’s approach. COLLABORATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAM FOR CAPACITY BUILDING One example of how to build scientific and management capacity within rural communities is to promote a collaborative research program.

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Review of the Draft Research and Restoration Plan for Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (Western Alaska) Salmon Such a program would be based on proposals submitted jointly by Native or local groups, and scientific laboratories or agencies. In principle, the proposals would be written and submitted by these groups as the lead investigators. The funding for competitive proposals would go directly to local communities with subcontracts to the laboratories or agencies to give the local groups some control over the research process. The most competitive proposals would have a strong educational component that would engage and train younger members of the community. One useful way of encouraging collaborations would be to use seed grants to allow groups to work together to develop more-detailed and long-term research proposals. The advantages of this type of program are threefold: It incorporates Native or local groups directly into the mainstream of scientific research and provides them with long-term contacts and relationships with the scientific community. It ensures that LTK and Native community insights contribute to the formulation of research hypotheses and conceptual designs, and that research is conducted in local areas where the Native or local community lives. Researchers in scientific laboratories and agencies can learn a lot from this process. It provides local and Native communities with additional influence because the funding runs through their institutions. One of the challenges is to ensure that productive and friendly collaborations are formed. In some cases, researchers in scientific laboratories or agencies might already know Native and local groups with whom they would like to engage (and vice versa). The AYK SSI (STC and Steering Committee) might also be able to identify potential partners on both sides, and other scientists familiar with the region might be able to help get a few good collaborative partnerships formed. Finally, seed-grant funding might be provided to explore partnerships before full proposals are formed.