DFID on B-CUR at Sensitization Meeting with Parliament
|Madam Lynne Hendersen, DFID Ghana, speaking at the occasion
Taking decisions based on evidence may seem obvious, but it's not always done. In the UK, evidence-based decision making has been in the public discourse for a number of years, rising to particular prominence in the 1990s.
This approach has been mainstreamed into the UK government process and is being enthusiastically pursued, as shown by the announcement in March 2013 of "new world leading evidence centres to drive better decisions across £200bn of public services".
Outside of the UK, the importance of undertaking research is also recognised. The Department for International Development (DFID) has commissioned significant amounts of high-quality research in recent years on a wide range of development issues. In the past DFID has focused on supplying and promoting this research, with less of an emphasis on ensuring that there is a corresponding demand for evidence use by practitioners.
Effective use of research and evidence can play a crucial role in making more successful policy decisions. As a result, and in recognition of these capacity gaps, DFID is funding a programme of work to build the skills, knowledge and systems that will allow policy makers and practitioners in low and middle income countries to access, appraise and use rigorous evidence. The Building Capacity for the Use of Research Evidence (BCure) programme is a £13 million three-year programme aimed at increasing the ability of policy makers, practitioners and research intermediaries in developing countries to use research evidence for decision-making. It is made up of five strategically linked programmes spanning a variety of sectors and working across 12 low and middle income countries.
The overall goal of the BCURE programme is for "policy and practice to be informed by research evidence" in the hope that this will lead to poverty reduction and improved quality of life for some of the world's poorest people. The programme works through a consortium of organisations who focus on building capacity to make evidence informed decisions. Examples include:
- Focusing on the high level decision making process to improve evidence use by Cabinet Ministers.
- Using innovative online training methods to improve the skills of individuals to make evidence informed decisions.
- Developing a toolkit which enables civil servants to take a strategic overview of the evidence base.
- Establishing open policy dialogues between senior civil servants to promote the use of evidence in decision making.
- Development of the African Evidence Network – a sustainable and engaging community for policy makers and practioners to discuss and share lessons on evidence use.
BCURE is being delivered with a specific focus on building the capacity of locally based organisations in the low and middle income countries where projects are operating. Each BCURE project has a primary provider, who will oversee the development of organisational systems and incentives and the skills of individuals in key decision making institutions which are central to policy and practice in that country. The Ghana Information Network for Knowledge Sharing (GINKS) is the lead agency for this initiative in Ghana.
This focus on strengthening the environment for the use and demand for evidence informed policy and decision making is timely. It very much aligns with other initiatives to improve the supply – both quantity and quality – of information and statistics, to strengthen capacity, at different levels (Media, citizens, public servants, parliamentarians) to use and understand the information, and to strengthen the delivery and accountability environment within government in which Parliament plays a fundamental role.
One such initiative is the Joint Agenda for Strengthening Monitoring & Evaluation and Statistics, led by the National Development and Planning Commission and the Ghana Statistical Service with support from Development Partners. This was developed to address weaknesses and issues in M&E and statistics in Ghana with a view to improve evidence-based decision making and accountability and transparency in public sector governance.
The JASMES builds on the existing institutions and framework for M&E and statistics in Ghana. It recognizes the existing strengths and attempts to address the weaknesses, while mitigating the threats and making the most of opportunities. It is based around four pillars – each reflecting a characteristic considered fundamental to a successful M&E and statistical system:
- Intensive utilization of the M&E information in one or more stages of the policy cycle
- Information that meets standards for data quality and evaluation reliability; and
- Sustainability, by which the system is institutionalized and will survive a change in administration, government ministers, or top officials
- Underpinning all these characteristics is leadership – the importance of top level commitment to M&E and statistics, to the use of information and to ensuring a sustainable system
This initiative talked about here today clearly links to a number of these areas – use, sustainability and perhaps most importantly, leadership.
All these initiatives – building the capacity of Ghana’s Parliament to use and present evidence, strengthening accountability and challenge, ensuring decisions are made based on evidence – can add up to much more than the mere sum of their individual parts and thereby, in combination, make a real difference to the lives of Ghanaians.
Medase. Thank you.
Country Donor Statistician (Ghana)
Statistics for Results Facility
Department for International Development