Why we do what we do

September 16, 2008

Mohamed Motala, Executive Director from the Community Agency for Social Enquiry in South Africa reflects on the importance of the “why” question. He argues that we should continually ask ourselves why we do what we do in regards to public policy issues.
Intermediaries can discuss who they are and how they do things, but they need to first address why they do what they do.

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Policy making as seen from “the belly of the beast”: audio recording

September 4, 2008

From her position at the “centre of power” or the “belly of the beast”, Dr Mateora Sadan, Senior Policy Analyst in the policy co-ordination advisory service within the South African Presidency shared her reflections on the nature of “evidence based policy making across the South African government system. This is the audio recording of her presentation during the opening session of the “Locating Power of In-between” conference.

Speaking openly and frankly Dr Sadan argued that there has definitely been a shift towards wanting to engage and utilise research more, but acknowledged that there is uneven use of research evidence across different departments. Dr Sadan cited the Department of a Social Development as a positive example of a department that engages with evidence, motivated she argued by their need to defend their decisions to the Treasury Department. However in other parts of the government system often people use research that supports their position, that might come down to basing decisions on one research paper.

Dr Sadan identified problems as lying with both researchers and policy makers: she questioned the communication style of some researchers, saying that within government circles some research reports are known as “doorstoppers” as they are so heavy and impenetrable; on the other hand she questioned the assumption that policy makers are actually able to assess and interpret information and apply it effectively. She then went on to identify some practical approaches to addressing these challenges.

Listen to Dr Sadan’s 10 minute presentation.
Read the blog of the session.

Learning from other I-K-Mediaries

September 3, 2008

Reflections on the conference/workshop from GDNet

Adriana Forero, LAC Regional Coordinator, GDNet
I personally found the workshop/conference very helpful in providing an input for both the day-to-day work and for the long term planning of our institutions. The possibility to get to know other IK-Mediaries and share with them work experiences was really constructive, among others, to start thinking on different ways to measure the effectiveness and impact of our work.

The discussion definitely raised a lot of issues to reflect on and enriched the process of formalizing the concept of “IK-Mediaries”. Since nowadays almost everything builds on networks the workshop/conference was a very good occasion build an effective network of ours. With regards to the internet tools we have to get familiar with, I feel that the cyberworld is changing too fast and for some of us that still have to learn more on them the network might be a very good instrument to provide support for our activities.

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Are intermediaries neutral?

August 13, 2008

Gillies Kasongo from PANOS Southern Africa talks about the one thing he’ll be taking away with him from the conference. He questions the neutrality of intermediaries and asks: Who influences the way intermediaries operate and why they operate?  Why do intermediaries exist and how neutral are their interventions?

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Intermediaries just repositories or more?

August 13, 2008

Mark Hepworth from Loughborough University in the UK tells us two things he will be taking away from the conference. Can intermediaries be satisfied with being just a repository? How can intermediaries add value and engage with people’s capacity to use information?

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Locating the power of what?

August 13, 2008

Andrew Chetley from Healthlink talks about puzzled reactions and new understandings of the conference title ‘Locating the Power of the In-between’.

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Intermediaries evaluating together

August 13, 2008

Anna Downie (IDS, UK) and Maria McMillan (Dev-Zone, New Zealand) talk about how intermediaries are playing unique often isolated roles and need to compare themselves with others. They talk about how intermediaries could collaborate on evaluation in the future.

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