Policymakers engaging with an evidence base – audio recording

May 26, 2009

In this audio recording, Megan Lloyd Laney, Communications adviser in the Central Research Department, shares her perspectives on the problem of evidence-based policy-making.

Being asked to speak about policy making processes on behalf on DFID, she says, felt like a “scary deal”.

Research is not consensual but we need to look at different knowledge and narratives.  Within DFID itself, there is belief in engaging with an evidence base to inform policy, but in practice they are unable to.

Megan outlines some of the disablers and enablers to engaging with an evidence base:

•    Policymaking is “messy and grubby” – there are lots of factors involved – negotiation, the art of politics, institutional capacity to capture from all the different evidence.

•    People are too busy responding to national imperatives and regional programmes of support to engage with an evidence base.

•    DFID frequently changes policy narratives (e.g. sustainable livelihoods, natural resource development, and climate change). These changing labels disable the outside world from understanding and engaging.

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“Policy process is a narrative” – audio recording

September 16, 2008

In this audio recording, Dr Temba Masilela from HSRC shares his perspectives on the problem of ‘evidence-based policy-making’ speaking about policy processes in South Africa. Having worked as a policy advisor and journalist and prior to this been an exile in Kenya, Temba speaks about how we should approach policy not just in terms of research, but as a narrative; it needs to be contextualised.

Dr Temba Masilela speaks on the opening panel at the Power of In-Between conference

Dr Temba Masilela speaks on the opening panel at the Power of In-Between conference

Taking an example of xenophobic attacks in South Africa, he asks what are the issues and imperatives underlying what happened – migration, crime, poverty, competition for resources? People see different narratives and framings and we need to analyse policy based on this.

Temba outlines a definition of the public policy process: “it’s a narrative about the authoritative allocation of values and resources”. It’s a narrative because it’s a story with many questions and answers:

  • It has particular context, actors, relationships, plot and perspectives
  • It is a story about why, who benefits, how should it be done, who bears the consequences and costs?
  • It has an ending, happy or sad
  • It is interactive, iterative and about engagement
  • It has a history to it, a present and a future
  • It requires some suspension of disbelief as well as trust that it is beneficial and will result in desired outcome

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Intermediary influence

July 24, 2008

Joseph Banda from ZAMBART talks about the one thing that he’ll be taking away with him from the Power of In-between Conference. He shares a story from the conference about how an intermediary has had influence on anti-retro viral drugs in Zambia.

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Research brokers and intermediaries in the Agriculture Sector

July 21, 2008

This was a really great session which took me well out of my comfort zone in terms of the subject area. Initially I felt a bit like a fish out of water but in the end I came away with a lot to think about in terms of the varied roles intermediaries play.

We heard about two interventions each seeking to capture, re-package and share information relevant to farmers and rural communities. James Nguo of the Arid Lands Information Network, Kenya and Mary Mbekani of the National Small Holder Farmers Association of Malawi described their work developing projects with a strong community focus using farmers associations and other social networks both to gather and disseminate practical knowledge and learning. Gracian Chimwaza, of ITOCA (based right here in Centurion) also touched on this very grassroots level engagement but also spoke of their work to improve research and policy processes through availability of information at an academic level by improving journal access among other things.

Much of the resulting discussion focussed on appropriate and ethical ways of engaging with local communities. Read the rest of this entry »

Promoting uptake: interventions aimed at encouraging greater engagement with and use of research based information

July 21, 2008

How do you ensure use of research?

Jennifer Liguton from PIDS began by talking about an annual initiative held in the Philippines called the Development Policy Research Month (DPRM). A really interesting programme that aims to help promote a culture of research through activities such as workshops and research fairs. It gets broad participation from government, academic/research institutions and media but also the general public. In particular they try to target students who they feel could become the new breed of researchers and policymakers.

Jonathan Carter of HSRC then spoke about the MOST Policy Research Tool (www.unesco.org/shs/most/tool) Read the rest of this entry »

Perspectives on the “problem” of evidence-based policymaking

July 18, 2008
Temba Masiela and Anil Kanjee

Temba Masiela and Anil Kanjee

A panel discussion explored the problems around information and knowledge flows, processes and structures that inhibit use of research in policy and practice.The discussion covered a range of perspectives on evidence-based policymaking. Out of this, I found three that resonated throughout the presentations. These were: public policy processes as a narrative; policy and politics; and what public policy processes are [not]:

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Why this conference isn’t (primarily) about researchers’ own ability to influence policy and practice

July 16, 2008

A lot of the interest in the Locating Power of In-between conference has been from researchers excited by the opportunity to talk about what they can do to ensure their research can better influence policy and practice. This is an important area, one that undoubtedly will be covered at the conference, however it is not the focus of the conference.

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