AFIDEP - What we do
Capacity Building Program
In order to have sustained evidence-based decision making in Africa, it is critical to optimize the capacity of researchers, advocates, and policymakers in translating and using research and related forms of evidence. AFIDEP strengthens skills of researchers in conducting systematic reviews and synthesis of evidence, policy analysis, scenario building and forecasting, and effective communication. The Institute conducted systematic reviews from multiple sources in order to strengthen individual findings and make a case for different facets of care, a recent example is work with the INDEPTH network studies on malaria since the networks inception in 1998 to 2009.
AFIDEP also works with advocates and end-users of evidence to optimize their capacity in accessing and synthesizing quality research from various sources and making use of this information. The Institute’s capacity building program employs a range of strategies including fellowships, internships, knowledge transfer during collaboration, provision of technical assistance, and technical training workshops, often in partnership with other training institutions and research organizations. AFIDEP also conducts key informant interviews to gain insights in policy development process and use such opportunities to identify knowledge gaps that the institute can fill.
Research to policy is a complex, non-linear process. AFIDEP not only considers the windows of opportunity for policy change on a broad scale, but also seeks to understand the needs and wants of individual policy makers. In this light, it's imperative that research evidence be context-relevant, practical, and action-oriented research that answers questions on how to improve different aspects of health care, e.g. improving equitable access through subsidy vouchers (justification of use of limited resources). Furthermore, understanding the terrain that policy makers usually work under; time pressures, relatively short tenures to make tangible improvements in health care, and resource-limited environs, makes it easier to supply them with knowledge that works for them in their specific area of need, timelines and that are cost effective.
AFIDEP’s Capacity Building Case Studies - Events targeted for knowledge exchange platforms
There are didactic capacity building workshops to improve policymaker’s understanding and value of engaging with research, as well as its assessment and application. In addition to one-on-one meetings with researchers or knowledge brokers and the involvement of knowledge producers in technical committees, AFIDEP recognizes the opportunities offered by conferences and symposia, a relevant setting where by virtue of their presence, the (self-selected) sub-set of policy makers are keen to enhance their knowledge and skills in a specific research area. In addition to this model, the Institute has employed a rapid approach of enhancing the capacity of policymakers at hands-on workshops in conferences. Below are some of these capacity building programs by AFIDEP:
I. Review of Malawi Population Policy and drafting of concept note for implementation strategy, 2011
UNFPA and the Malawian Ministry of Planning requested AFIDEP to undertake a critical review of the country’s National Population Policy and to provide advice on the extent to which the policy was evidence based and in line with international principles underlying population policies. AFIDEP’s report led to the convening of a stakeholders meeting to review and agree on various technical and rights oriented flaws that AFIDEP noted in the draft before it was sent back to Cabinet for approval. For instance, the clause that the government should aim to achieve a family of four children was removed following this advice. AFIDEP was also asked to provide a draft of a framework that the country could use to develop an integrated programme on population and development to serve as an implementation strategy for the policy. Direct involvement in reviewing government policies of this nature provides opportunities to identify areas where the skills of policy makers need to be enhanced and point them to areas where reference to evidence needs to be strengthened. It also allows knowledge brokers to recommend specific sources of evidence to be used and helps to reduce the gap between generation and use of evidence in policy-formulation.
II. Populations Footprints Symposium, Nairobi, Kenya, May 2011
Population Footprints, the 2011 UCL-Leverhulme Trust symposium on human population growth and global carrying capacity, took place in London on 25-26 May in London with a satellite meeting in Kenya. The aim of the Nairobi symposium was to promote public awareness and debate on the linkages between population growth, Climate Change, and the environment in Kenya. AFIDEP organised a number of activities during breakout sessions that involved the active participation of policymakers in defining knowledge gaps, research dissemination and determining the future agenda on the topic, the session also encouraged informal networking opportunities.
III. The 6th African Population Conference, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, December 2011
This conference is organized every four years to review the state of knowledge on Africa’s Population, assess programme responses, and outline future research and programme agendas. AFIDEP sponsored attendance by policy makers from ministries of Planning, Health, and Environment agencies from Malawi and Kenya to enhance their knowledge of population issues, expand their networking horizon, and facilitate knowledge exchange. AFIDEP organised a number of activities during the conferencce, including a hands on pre-conference workshop on modeling – population projections, active participation of policymakers in research dissemination and discussions and informal networking opportunities.
IV. Appraisal of Uganda Joint UN Programme on Population and Development, 2010
AFIDEP was contracted by DFID through HLSP to appraise a proposal developed by UNFPA and the government of Uganda to implement a five-year programme to address the country’s population challenges. The aim was to advise DFID and the government on the extent to which the proposed integrated programme was evidence based and assess its chances of success. AFIDEP carried out extensive consultation with policy makers and other stakeholders to understand what they sought to achieve to assess how well the proposal articulated those objectives. A resultant technical report by AFIDEP and other partners suggested a need for the project to focus more on evaluation and generation of lessons for scale up. The appraisal also recommended that at least a third of the £20 million should go towards addressing the country’s acute family planning commodity security problem This model of working with governments provides a unique opportunity to promote use of research evidence in the design of interventions and helps to highlight areas where governments and development partners need to build their own and other stakeholder’s capacity.
Highlighted Outcomes from the Capacity Building Programs
- Improved knowledge and skills of policymakers; appreciation of the place for research in policy decisions
- Personal contact – people not institutions work together
- Abolish misconceptions and build trust – policy makers are more likely to ask for research to support decisions
- Build relationships and working partnerships – policy makers can influence research agenda and vice-versa