Opportunities and Challenges of South-South Partnership: Reflections on a Collaborative Research Project on Violence and Transition in Africa

In this report, it is reflected upon the experience of four South-based organisations in conducting collaborative research on violence and transition in Africa. It explores some of the challenges and opportunities offered by working collaboratively on common themes across different contexts with research partners with diverse goals and institutional arrangements, and seeks to draw some lessons for how such partnerships can benefit individual organisations and research on violence more generally. This report seeks to capture some of the process lessons, while the findings of the research are reported elsewhere. The report is based on the final project meeting where partners engaged in a joint reflection on more than three years of collaboration. The research emerged out of a CSVR project that examined the changing patterns of violence in South Africa. This research asked questions about the uniqueness of the findings to South Africa and suggested comparable and comparative research be conducted to examine these issues in greater depth. This gave rise to discussions with various regional organisations on the utility and feasibility of such research and the development of a partnership proposal being shared with IPLG and NPI-Africa. When the details of the research methodology were clarified, CHR was also approached to join the partnership. The project identified common themes that could be examined in the three countries, and which would benefit from some comparative analysis. After extensive discussion, gender violence and informal armed formations (IAFs) were chosen as research foci. These were issues that were viewed as central in addressing ongoing policy debates that partner organisations faced in their respective countries. The specific definition and parameters of both these topics were left somewhat open to local articulation.