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On demand and use of evidence in policy making: very interesting experiences from South Africa


I just want to share three very interesting papers on demand and use of evidence processes and systems written in collaboration by colleagues of the RAPID team in ODI and government officials.

cover-wpUnderstanding the organisational context for evidence-informed policy-making

Louise Shaxson, Ajoy Datta, Mapula Tshangela and Bongani Matomela

November 2016

Efforts to improve the use of evidence in government policy-making across the world have tended to focus on different groups and organisations. But while a good deal of work has been done to improve the supply of evidence from entities such as research centres and academia, less attention has been paid to improving demand for, and use of, evidence by government policy-makers.
This working paper describes the framework used by a team of ODI researchers and officials from the South African Department of Environmental Affairs to analyse how DEA’s internal structures and processes and the external policy environment in South Africa affect how its policy-makers source and use evidence. This paper outlines, systematically, the detail of the issues we believe to be important to understanding how and why a government department operates when it comes to evidence, drawing on the authors’ direct experiences of working on evidence in the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and DEA.
This is the first in a series of documents that have been developed as part of the VakaYiko Consortium project, supporting DEA in South Africa as it embeds and enhances an evidence-informed approach to policy-making. It has been jointly produced by a team from DEA and from ODI.
Alf Wills, Mapula Tshangela, Narnia Bohler-Muller, Ajoy Datta, Nikki Funke, Linda Godfrey, Bongani Matomela, Gary Pienaar, Nedson Pophiwa, Louise Shaxson, Wilma Strydom and Ke Yu
November 2016
Since 2008, South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) has made a concerted effort to enhance its systems for using evidence to inform how it diagnoses, develops, implements and reports on policy. This report synthesises the organisational issues that influence these interactions. It is based on the findings of five studies that were conducted as part of a programme of support to DEA between 2014 and 2016. Many examples of good practice were unearthed in the studies – examples that deserve to be shared more widely. The report also identifies areas that were observed to be limiting DEA’s ability to make better use of its evidence.
This is the second in a series of documents that have been developed as part of the VakaYiko Consortium project, supporting DEA in South Africa as it embeds and enhances an evidence-informed approach to policy-making. It has been jointly produced by a team from DEA and from ODI.


Alf Wills, Mapula Tshangela, Louise Shaxson, Ajoy Datta and Bongani Matomela
November 2016
Approaches to evidence-informed policy-making must be flexible and pay equal attention to the quality of the processes through which evidence is sourced and used, as well as the quality of the evidence itself. However, there are often common concerns, within and across government departments – for example, using the full range of high-quality evidence that is available, using budgets efficiently, building relationships and ensuring wide participation, and anticipating future evidence needs.
This report derives from work done with the South African Department of Environmental Affairs between 2014 and 2016. Informed by existing good practices identified in DEA, it proposes five guidelines and sets of good practice that could underpin a systematic and phased approach to improving evidence-informed policy-making within a government department.
This is the third in a series of documents that have been developed as part of the VakaYiko Consortium project, supporting DEA in South Africa as it embeds and enhances an evidence-informed approach to policy-making. It has been jointly produced by a team from DEA and from ODI

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