Original Research

How relationship and dialogue facilitate evidence use: Lessons from African countries

Matodzi M. Amisi, Mohammed S. Awal, Mine Pabari, Dede Bedu-Addo
African Evaluation Journal | Vol 9, No 1 | a559 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aej.v9i1.559 | © 2021 Matodzi M. Amisi, Mohammed S. Awal, Mine Pabari, Dede Bedu-Addo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 May 2021 | Published: 09 December 2021

About the author(s)

Matodzi M. Amisi, Center for Learning on Evaluation and Results, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Mohammed S. Awal, Ghana Centre for Democratic Development, Accra, Ghana
Mine Pabari, Athari Advisory, Nairobi, Kenya; and, Center for Learning on Evaluation and Results, Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Dede Bedu-Addo, Ghana Monitoring and Evaluation Forum, Accra, Ghana


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Abstract

Background: This article shares lessons from four case studies, documenting experiences of evidence use in different public policies in South Africa, Kenya, Ghana and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Objectives: Most literature on evidence use in Africa focuses either on one form of evidence, that is, evaluations, systematic reviews or on the systems governments develop to support evidence use. However, the use of evidence in policy is complex and requires systems, processes, tools and information to flow between different stakeholders. In this article, we demonstrate how relationships between knowledge generators and users were built and maintained in the case studies, and how these relationships were critical for evidence use.

Method: The case studies were amongst eight case studies carried out for the book entitled ‘Using Evidence in Policy and Practice: Lessons from Africa’. Ethnographic case studies drawn from both secondary and primary research, including interviews with key informants and extensive document reviews, were carried out. The research and writing process involved policymakers enabling the research to access participants’ rich observations.

Results: The case studies demonstrate that initiatives to build relationships between different state agencies, between state and non-state actors and between non-state actors are critical to enable organisations to use evidence. This can be enabled by the creation of spaces for dialogue that are sensitively facilitated and ongoing for actors to be aware of evidence, understand the evidence and be motivated to use the evidence.

Conclusion: Mutually beneficial and trustful relationships between individuals and institutions in different sectors are conduits through which information flows between sectors, new insights are generated and evidence used.


Keywords

evidence; evidence use; evaluation use; evidence use systems; relationships

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