There is extensive evidence demonstrating that development research, done effectively, can improve public policy and help accelerate development progress. However experience also indicates that in many African countries, data, evidence and analysis fail to significantly inform public policy processes.
The African Evidence Informed Policy Forum explored how best policy researchers, civil society actors, policymakers, academics and members of the private sector can bring timely, relevant, and reliable new knowledge to bear on policy decisions. It sought to understand how different actors engaged in evidence to policy processes in African contexts can work together to foster a culture using social and economic research and evidence in policymaking. The forum also explored avenues for collaboration between these different stakeholders.
As momentum for evidence informed policymaking built on the continent, we hoped that this event would catalyse new forms of engagement between policy research organizations, civil society, academia, policymakers, donors and the private sector.
Aims of the African Evidence Informed Policy Forum
Building on TTI’s experience, IDRC and the Mastercard Foundation co-convened a diverse group of key African evidence-to-policy actors in an ‘African Evidence Informed Policy Forum’. This forum brought together think tank representatives, including young researchers, as well as civil society actors, donors, policymakers, academics, and members of the private sector in order to:
- Understand how different actors such as researchers, practitioners and thinkers engaged in evidence to policy processes in African contexts are working to foster a culture of using social and economic evidence, data and analysis in policy making, through their own efforts and also by working collectively with organisations or groups;
- Reflect on what experience and lessons suggest for future approaches to supporting evidence informed policy processes that promote sustainable development, including international policy frameworks like the Sustainable Development Goals.
- Share lessons and experiences from evidence-informed policymaking processes in Africa, including efforts to generate data, track progress, and provide feedback on policy implementation.
- Increase understanding of how evidence to policy landscapes in Africa are evolving and identify key trends, opportunities and challenges (e.g. regional development agendas, Sustainable Development Goals, national specificities) influencing these landscapes.
- An understanding of the contextual factors that affect the extent to which evidence is used to inform policy decision-making in Africa.
- A mapping of areas of support where a positive difference to emerging evidence informed policy efforts can be made.
- Strategies and approaches for how best to animate evidence informed policy ecosystems with a view to identifying opportunities for future collaboration amongst government agencies, academia, policy research organizations, the private sector and funders.