Conference report: How research brokers and intermediaries support evidence-based pro-poor policy and practice

February 23, 2010

Report from the Locating the Power of In-between conference

The report from the Locating the Power of In-between conference held in Pretoria, South Africa, 2008, takes an in depth look at the role of intermediaries in supporting and enabling evidence based policy.  It builds on the rich discussion at the event and aims to raise awareness of the contributions that intermediaries can make in development processes.

The report identifies key issues from the conference and presents them for further analysis, discussion and action. The findings from the conference show that:

  • the issue of how evidence can inform policy and practice is an important shared concern and that the contribution of intermediary actors within that picture is significant and worthy of further attention
  • there are a wide range of areas in which intermediary actors have the potential to address barriers to evidence-based policy, particularly by facilitating information flows between development actors and helping to set agendas in research, policy and practice arenas
  • intermediary roles are not currently being played as extensively as they might, and the intermediary sector needs to step up to fulfil its potential in the sector

Since the conference, a lot of work has been done analysing and responding to the ideas and issues that emerged from the conference.  The I-K-Mediary Network, a network of people actively involved in intermediary work, many of whom attended the conference, has continued to develop and grow and continues to champion the role of intermediaries in development. Last year the group undertook case study work to understand its influence in change processes in different contexts, and also recently met in the UK to reflect on the conference findings and discuss areas for future collaboration. The report from this meeting entitled ‘Intermediary understanding, impact and action’ and a summary of the case study work entitled Intermediary Impact’ are both available at

Please do share your reflections, thoughts and ideas on reading the conference report and related follow up work.

Learning and future action: conference evaluation

May 20, 2009

A summary of findings from the conference evaluation

76% of particpants who completed the evalaution questionnaire from the Power of In-between conference felt the conference met or exceeded their expectations.  Participants thought that in one way or another the conference had helped them to:

•    Debate and discuss the role of intermediaries: Helping to define, understand, broaden, clarify, value and explore the challenges relating to the role of the intermediary/research broker

“[My understanding of intermediary roles] has been blown up! There are horizontal roles, vertical roles, one-way, two-way, multi-way, 360°”

•    Share lessons and experiences with other intermediaries and learn from others:  Particularly in relation to gaining new ideas, comparing experiences and setting their work in a wider context.

“[There was] A sense of connection with other people facing the same issues.”

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Knowledge intermediaries in Africa

December 8, 2008

‘Is Information the solution’ is an article on intermediaries inspired by the Power of In-between conference. It was written by Richard Humphries, an independent consultant who works on knowledge initiatives in Africa.

Knowledge intermediaries, he suggests, “possess much power to shape development discourse” by constant scanning, sifting and aggregation of perspectives. He asks what more can be done to promote the strength of knowledge intermediaries in Africa?

You can read the full article commissioned by Inter Press Service (IPS) here.

Also check out Richard Humphries blog which highlights issues in the African knowledge and networking field.

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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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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