|The DRUSSA programme extends its activities in Ghana and Uganda|
|Thursday, 16 October 2014 09:38|
Effective and sustainable Research Uptake also includes demand-side activities that facilitate and contribute to the use of research evidence by policymakers. In recognition of this, the DRUSSA programme was awarded additional UKAID funding in 2013 to support ‘demand-side’ capacity in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).
After three years, many of the universities participating in the DRUSSA programme have made significant advances in their approaches to managing research for uptake and utilization, thereby boosting the ‘supply-side’ of the Research Uptake equation. Yet effective and sustainable Research Uptake also includes demand-side activities that facilitate and contribute to the use of research evidence by policymakers and practitioners. In recognition of this, additional UKAID funding was awarded to the DRUSSA programme in 2013 to support ‘demand-side’ capacity in SSA. A pilot initiative is currently underway in Ghana and Uganda to build capacity amongst public sector policy-makers to use research evidence to inform policy decision-making.
Improving Policy with evidence
The initiative is built on the understanding that policies underpinned by a sound evaluation of research evidence lead to higher impact interventions and programmes for poverty reduction and improved quality of life. The DRUSSA programme team, in conjunction with our partners in Ghana and Uganda, are implementing approaches to collaborate with six development focused government ministries to strengthen demand-side capacity.
In Ghana the DRUSSA partners are the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research – Science and Technology Policy Research Institute (CSIR-STEPRI) and the University of Ghana’s Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER). The team is working closely with the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Food and Agriculture and Ministry of Trade and Industry.
In Uganda the partners are the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (UNCST) and the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) at Makerere University. Here the team is working with the Ugandan Ministry of Education and Sport, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development and Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries.
Within the ministries the programme will be delivering a series of three interactive and mutually reinforcing activities to address identified capacity needs. These are designed to foster dialogue and links between senior policy-makers and senior academics. The first of these activities took place earlier this month with a series of three policy symposia in Ghana and Uganda. Senior policymakers from the respective ministries met with a cross-section of academics who specialise in disciplines relevant to contemporary policy initiatives, to discuss the current research and approaches to specific policy areas. Full reports of the events will be available in due course.
Similar policy symposia will be held regularly over the next two years and will be supported through the production of a series of professional development courses on ‘handling science and evidence’ for junior and mid-level policy advisors. The courses will focus on enhancing the key skills of evidence evaluation, interpretation and engagement, using case studies drawn from current ministerial work.
The skills, knowledge and professional linkages that emerge from the policy symposia and the professional development courses will be reinforced through the introduction of a Fellowship scheme. This scheme will place early career academics, with expertise in areas relevant to each ministry, within ministerial departments to provide staff with day-to-day access to research expertise. It will also foster skills and linkages that the Fellow can take back to his or her university to inform future collaboration between that institution and the ministry.
The next two years of the programme will be an exciting time for all those involved, and particularly the teams in Ghana and Uganda, who are at the forefront of initiatives to link the supply and demand sides of Research Uptake. The end result will be a greater reliance on locally produced research evidence and local expertise to address domestic policy issues.
Tomas Harber is a Programme Officer at the ACU Tomas.Harber@acu.ac.uk