Meet FRACTAL’s embedded researchers
May 2, 2018

Thanks to Anna Taylor, embedded researchers coordinator, and to the embedded researchers who contributed to this article: Brenda Mwalukanga (Lusaka), Hécralito Mucavele (Maputo), Kornelia Iipinge (Windhoek), Lulu van Rooyen (Durban), Rudo Mamombe (Harare) and Sandra Zenda (Harare).

Brenda Mwalukanga, Lusaka, facilitating a Learning Lab in Lusaka, Zambia. “Being an embedded researcher has taught me to read more and understand that the learning process never ends. It has been a wonderful experience and learning opportunity to work with and alongside renowned scientists on the project and experienced policy makers in the city of Lusaka.”

Hecrálito Mucavele, Maputo, (right) at the Maputo City Dialogue taking notes from the presentations. “Being an embedded researcher is a new position in the field of academy. It is interesting to work as a liaison or intermediary between the academy, the science makers and decision makers the policy makers and legislators. It is a good opportunity to learn and know what is happening on both sides. I learned that I must be more proactive, dynamic so that the planned activities run smoothly. The principle of co-production and co-exploration is something that has helped me to interact with researchers, stakeholders, civil society, during the learning lab, interviews, workshops and other forums.”

Kornelia Iipinge, Windhoek, at the Windhoek Second Learning Lab. “As an embedded researcher with the scientific background, the trans-disciplinary research has made me learn from all disciplines such as local urban governance and social science. It has been exciting to be involved the development process of the City of Windhoek’s Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan with technical assistance from the FRACTAL Project.”

Lulu van Rooyen, Durban, with the Climate Protection Branch manager presenting at the Lusaka-Durban exchange visit. “Being an embedded researcher has been one of the most challenging, but rewarding and capacitating experiences I’ve ever had. It demands tenacity, initiative, perseverance, resourcefulness, and confidence – however, the opportunity to work with various institutions in a multi-dimensional space, in a dynamic and relevant field of cutting-edge applied research is invaluable.”

Rudo Mamombe, Harare (front row, third from the right), on a site visit with members of the Harare City Council, Department of Harare Water. “As an embedded researcher I had the opportunity to work in the academic field (Chinhoyi University of Technology) and professional setup (Harare City Council) and as such I got to have the best of both worlds. It was an exciting experience as I acquired invaluable skills and also had to contribute to the knowledge co-production process as I played the role of ‘middleman’ between the academia and practitioners.”

Sandra Zenda, Harare, interviewing a resident from Vainona, an old low density suburb in Harare. “Being an embedded researcher was a learning curve that offered the opportunity to gain and sharpen ‘people skills’ as I met with stakeholders from within Harare, and across the broader FRACTAL and FCFA project.”

Anna Taylor, embedded researchers coordinator, at the Windhoek Second Learning Lab. “My time as an embedded researcher in the Cape Town city government taught me that climate adaptation is not a straightforward set of concrete projects that a city government can implement over a few years in addition to their other sectoral work (even if they had extra funding to do so). Rather, adapting cities to climate change is a complex, long-term process that requires a lot of coordination, collaboration and rethinking how things are done, none of which are strengths of city governments… or universities! I experienced how difficult yet really valuable it is to be someone that bridges between the knowledge and working practices of academia and city governments, conveying and translating information about climate change between researchers, city practitioners and policy-makers. This encouraged me to support others to do embedded research in other cities, to leverage the opportunities and navigate the challenges by planning together and sharing lessons and advice with each other.”

Back to the article: “The bridge between science and practice”: embedded researchers share experiences and insights

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