|DRUSSA - Linking Researchers and Policy Makers in Ghana and Uganda|
|Wednesday, 21 January 2015 07:48|
DRUSSA has been working with academic institutions and government departments in Ghana and Uganda in order to link the supply and demand side of Research Uptake. This is being done through symposia, professional development courses and a policy fellowship scheme which places academics in government departments, allowing in-house government access to research expertise.
African universities contribute to the development research evidence base to address specific development challenges and support domestic demand for better, stronger and contextualised evidence. Yet all too frequently, quality research is insulated from potential research users by a combination of practical, procedural and capacity impediments, not least of which is the formalization of information pathways between research producers and users of research evidence.
One of the aims of the Development Research Uptake in Sub-Saharan Africa (DRUSSA) programme is to facilitate linkages between in-country researchers and in-country policy-makers in Ghana and Uganda. With DRUSSA partners, STEPRI in Ghana and UNCST in Uganda, the project is delivering a series of three interactive and mutually reinforcing activities to address identified capacity needs. The first of these activities started in late 2014 and is specifically designed to foster dialogue and links between senior policy-makers and senior academics. It consists of a series of policy symposia in Ghana and Uganda in which policy-makers from the respective Ministries are matched with academics with relevant research expertise, to discuss evidence-informed policy approaches to key development issues.
Ghana symposia: building bridges between researchers and policy-makers
The programme started with two symposia in Ghana. The first of these was chaired by Hon. Mutala Mohammed, Deputy Minister for Trade and Industry, who welcomed delegates by emphasising that “The clarion call for evidence-based research for effective policy formation and implementation has come at the right time. Dialogue between academia and policy-makers is a win-win effort.”
The symposium focused on research and analysis of the potential impact of the Common External Tariff and Economic Partnership Agreement by Mr Jamie MacLeod, Trade Economist, Ministry of Trade and Industry and Dr Charles Ackah, Senior Lecturer, ISSER, University of Ghana. A fruitful discussion of the issues followed, in which the challenges faced by both researchers and policymakers in establishing regular and relevant dialogue were raised.
The second symposium focussed on research and analysis of the impact of the decentralisation of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the consequent constraints and opportunities for sustainable food production in Ghana. HIgh on the discussion agenda was looking at ways to ensure the effective dissemination of innovation and technologies to farmers in the communities. The Minister for Food and Agriculture, Hon. Fifi Fiavi Kwetey, and Deputy Minister for Crops, Hon. (Dr.) Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan and representatives of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture participated in the symposium. Contributions were heard from Dr Eric Oduro Osae, Institute for Local Government Studies and Dr George T-M. Kwadzo, University of Ghana. The Hon. Fifi Kwetey summed up discussions by saying that “informed policy will contribute to enhanced food security, increased farmer incomes and engagement in profitable agriculture.”
Uganda symposium: academic input into policy development
In October 2014, the Ugandan Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development hosted the first DRUSSA policy symposium. This event focused on academic input into the review of the National Energy Policy (2002). Discussions. Input from Mr James Banaabe, Commissioner, Energy Resources Department, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, centred on the need for the development of a comprehensive and integrated energy policy for Uganda that harnesses synergies among available energy options, and which is in alignment with the National Development Plan and Vision 2040.
This event was followed by a symposium with the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, on 28 October, in which policy issues related to value addition to agricultural commodities for the purposes of reducing post-harvest wastage and improving market competitiveness were discussed. The deliberations were informed by a policy discussion paper by Professor Noble Banadda, Makerere University, entitled Answering Value Addition: Missed Calls in Uganda.
Reinforcing linkages between research and policy
To date, seven DRUSSA policy symposia have been held and further symposia will be held regularly over the next two years. These will be augmented through the second element of DRUSSA involvement: the production of a series of in-service professional development courses on handling science and evidence, for junior to mid-level policy-makers. The courses will focus on enhancing the key skills of evidence evaluation, interpretation and engagement using case studies drawn from current Ministerial work. The third element is the policy fellowship scheme. Locally based academics with expertise in areas relevant to each Ministry have been awarded fellowships to provide Ministerial staff with day-to-day access to research expertise. The scheme will also allow the fellows to build research-to-policy pathways between their respective universities and Ministries, to inform future collaborations on evidence-based policy-making.
Dr Tomas Harber is a DRUSSA Programme Coordinator, Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU).