Rigorous, reliable evidence should be used when making decisions for any society. That’s because the use of evidence helps decision makers to maximise limited resources such as money and expertise.
It’s also a way to avoid harm and to select the courses of action that have been shown to be beneficial.
The importance of basing decisions on the best available evidence is even more important in settings like many African countries. The continent has enormous challenges to overcome. These include a lack of resources; poverty; and corruption.
Like many developing countries elsewhere, African states have a real challenge when it comes to using academic research and evidence to decide on and design policies.
The problem is twofold. Policymakers sometimes don’t call on available research, while for their part academics don’t know how to engage with policymakers.
But academics would be naive to believe that only research evidence is important, or that they’re the only ones working to tackle Africa’s massive challenges.
Rather, my colleagues and I should recognise our position within a wider community working towards real change. This community is made up of people, the organisations they work for and their wider networks.
The Africa Evidence Network is one of many on the continent working to break down the walls that stop decision makers and researchers from working closely together.
We set up the Africa Evidence Leadership Award as part of this effort. It is aimed at people from Africa who work to support evidence-informed decision making.
The way in which evidence-informed decision making has been defined has deliberately been left broad. This means that people from all sectors of the evidence ecosystem—not only academics—can apply.
It’s a chance to benchmark the highest standards of evidence-informed decision-making and to recognise people using evidence to make decisions and engaging with researchers to support evidence-informed decisions.
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