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The Evidence Leaders in Africa

Understanding the value of EIDM at an early stage in one’s career can leave lasting impact that transforms researchers from being holed up in the academic space to becoming effective EIDM champions within policy spaces. Photo: Rwanda Govt./Flickr
The project will introduce an evidence-informed decision-making (EIDM) leadership award to recognise AAS scholars innovating with interventions that enhance EIDM culture in government institutions.
Competitive seed grants will be awarded to fellows with innovative approaches that spearhead implementation of initiatives aimed at addressing specific bottlenecks that curtail institutionalisation of EIDM in government. Photo: © Stephan Gladieu/World Bank
The project will also convene a conference to facilitate the sharing of evidence-informed decision-making (EIDM)lessons within AAS' networks comprising researchers, policymakers, and practitioners in East and West Africa. The conference will comprise a call for abstracts on lessons and experiences from EIDM initiatives. Photo by Jiro Ose/Unicef

The Evidence Leaders in Africa (ELA) project aims to expand leadership for the use of evidence in policy formulation and implementation by African governments. The project is running for 2 years (December 2018 to November 2020) and is implemented by AFIDEP and the African Academy for Sciences (AAS). The project is funded by the Hewlett Foundation.

The ELA project is empowering AAS’ scholars to proactively engage governments to use science and innovation and champion institutionalisation of evidence-informed decision-making (EIDM) in East and West Africa.

The project is working to increase the number of academic leaders championing EIDM in Africa; increase the number of government agencies in East and West Africa taking specific actions to institutionalise EIDM and; expand evidence and space for EIDM learning in Africa.

The project is working with Fellows and Affiliates of the AAS.

  • AAS Fellows are distinguished individuals who have reached the highest level of excellence in their field of expertise and have made contributions to the advancement of science, technology and innovation (STI) in Africa.
  • AAS Affiliates are early-career scientists who have demonstrated excellence in the development and application of science in Africa.

The project is using various approaches to expand leadership for use of evidence in policy formulation and implementation by African governments, the approaches include

  • Sensitising scholars on their role in promoting EIDM in government: 30 distinguished scholars from across Africa convened for a workshop to increase their capacity to drive evidence uptake in government decision-making. The workshop provided a platform for knowledge sharing on the pathways to nurture a culture of EIDM in government. The three-day workshop was held on 22 May to 24 May 2019, in Nairobi, Kenya.
  • Training and mentorship sessions to build the capacity of researchers on EIDM: 23 early-to-mid-career researchers from East and West Africa participated in a research communication and policy engagement workshop to build their capacity on effective communication and policy engagement strategies. The workshop was held in Nairobi, Kenya on 27-31 January 2020.
  • Award of Seed Grants to Institutionalise EIDM in Governments: Competitive seed grants were awarded to AAS fellows with innovative approaches that spearhead the implementation of initiatives aimed at addressing bottlenecks that curtail institutionalisation of EIDM in government: Grants worth a total of US$20,000 per grantee were awarded to four winning proposals.The grantees  have existing strong and trusted relationships with government agencies. The relationships, trust, and respect are important prerequisites for the successful implementation of initiatives to institutionalise evidence use within government agencies.
  • Introduction of an EIDM leadership award to recognise AAS scholars innovating with interventions that enhance EIDM culture in government institutions: The award will have a monetary value of US$5,000 for the winner, US$2,000 for the first runners-up and US$ 1,000 for the second runners-up. AAS fellows, grantees and affiliates will be eligible for the award.
  • Host an EIDM leaning-sharing Conference: A conference to facilitate sharing of EIDM lessons within AAS’ networks, which comprises researchers, policymakers, and practitioners in East and West Africa will be held. The conference will comprise a call for abstracts on lessons and experiences from EIDM initiatives (individual and institutional efforts) within AAS networks, selection of abstracts, the award of travel grants to authors of selected abstracts, and travel grant awards to key EIDM actors from the two regions to ensure representation and deepen reach.
  • Of the 23 AAS Fellows who participated in the May 2019 workshop, our evaluation shows that notable increase in knowledge on the value of EIDM and potential interventions that can contribute to promoting and embedding EIDM practices in government agencies and universities. Watch interview series of scholars and researchers expressing  the value of ELA activities to their work.
  • Following the May 2019 workshop, one AAS Fellow, Dr. Eucharia Nwaichi, who participated in the workshop conducted an abridged 1-day workshop for women scientists at her university (of Port Harcourt) in Nigeria on research communication and translation on November 14, 2019. She says she drew content of her workshop from the content we used for the May workshop, which we provided her with. The University’s Vice Chancellor, Dean of Science, and a Head of Department participated in the workshop, and requested that she runs a similar workshop the following year.
  • Project activities have stimulated interest from other researchers outside the AAS network. For instance, eBase Africa in Cameroun has requested if we can invite researchers from their network to benefit from the planned training workshop for researchers, and also the evidence leaders conference to be hosted in July 2020. The Mawazo Institute has also expressed interest in having the women scholars it supports participate in the evidence leaders conference.
  • The pre-post evaluation conducted at the research communication and policy engagement workshop showed increased knowdge and skills on effective communications and policy engagement strategies

The project is implemented by AFIDEP and the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) who will engage with various policymakers and institutions represented by the Fellows and Grantees involved in the project.

Key Details

Dates: December 2018 to Present
Aim:

The Evidence Leaders in Africa (ELA) project aims to expand leadership for the use of evidence in policy formulation and implementation by African governments.

Where: Benin , Burkina Faso , Burundi , Cape Verde , Comoros , Côte d’Ivoire , Djibouti , Eritrea , Ethiopia , Ghana , Guinea , Guinea-Bissau , Kenya , Liberia , Mali , Niger , Nigeria , Rwanda , Senegal , Seychelles , Sierra Leone , Somalia , South Sudan , Sudan , Tanzania , The Gambia , Togo , Uganda
Project Manager:Carol Mukiira