SENTINEL (Social and Environmental Trade-offs in African Agriculture) is a new African-European research project, led by IIED (the International Institute for Environment and Development) in the UK.

The SENTINEL project team would like to invite you to participate and contribute to a horizon-scanning activity. Horizon scanning involves asking experts and stakeholders to highlight important questions that need to be answered in order to solve a given problem. It is an inclusive tool used to not only identify knowledge gaps, but also important key research questions. For an example of horizon-scanning for the types of questions that have been raised through similar activities, see The aim of this horizon-scanning activity is to produce:

 “Achieving food and nutrition security, reducing inequality, and preserving terrestrial ecosystems: 100 critical research questions for decision makers in sub-Saharan Africa.”

The horizon-scanning process involves three key stages: i) generating a large list of questions; ii) organising these questions into themes relevant to the problem; and iii) refining the list during meetings and workshops. At this stage, the project team is looking to complete stage i) - the baseline list of questions. These questions can span any topic relating to food and nutrition security, reducing inequality, and ecosystem health in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, each question:

  1. Must address a knowledge gap (or gaps) that can be filled within a reasonable time frame (e.g. <5 years), using a realistic research design.
  2. Cannot depend on the outcome of another question.
  3. Should not be able to be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response.
  4. Should define a subject, an intervention, and a measurable outcome, if related to an impact and intervention.

You are invited to put forward any questions that you feel fit this remit, no matter how broad or narrow they might be. Your participation in this activity will not only help identify key research questions for the SENTINEL project but may also support future research beyond the lifespan of this project. 

Finally, alongside the questions, The project team would also like to request permission to collect information such as your email address and job position, to enable them to ensure that this study incorporates the views of stakeholders from a variety of institutions and job roles. Any data you provide will be used and analysed exclusively in an anonymised form.

Please feel free to share this letter with interested colleagues and others in your network, to maximise the number of responses received.

Please submit your questions by 9 September 2018 at the latest.

Expiry date: Sunday, 9 September, 2018
Institution: International Institute for Environment and Development