AEN Evidence 23

Making evidence services responsive to policy needs

By 19/09/2023

Day 2 of Evidence 2023, shed light on the practical implementation of Responsive Evidence Services (RES) in several African governments. Keynote speakers represented three initiatives:  the West Africa Capacity-building and Impact Evaluation (WACIE), the Center for Rapid Evidence Synthesis (ACRES), and the South Africa Centre for Evidence (SACE) – that have been actively providing RES to their respective governments.

WACIE is an initiative hosted by theInternational Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie). It  provides rapid synthesis and evidence translation to help policymakers in eight countries in West Africa understand what evidence exists for specific policy questions. They spoke about the importance of making relevant evidence easy to access for busy policy makers. By curating and organising research papers and reports, WACIE ensures that policy-makers have the necessary information at their fingertips. This streamlined approach enhances the efficiency of decision-making processes.

ACRES, a centre working out of the University of Makerere in Uganda that works closely with the Ugandan government, emphasised the importance of presenting research in a user-friendly and accessible manner in order to engage policymakers. Their experience shows that government bodies are looking for research that is concise, actionable, and aligns with their specific policy needs. By tailoring evidence to these requirements, ACRES ensures that policymakers can readily utilise the information to inform their decision-making process.

The South Africa Centre for Evidence focused on the importance of providing real-time updates and being adaptable to changing circumstances, in order to get the attention of government decisionmakers. This ensures that policy-makers have access to the most up-to-date evidence, enabling them to respond effectively to emerging challenges and evolving policy needs.

During the Q&A session, attendees were eager to understand best practices for presenting research to government bodies. The panellists highlighted the importance of concise and easily understandable presentations. They stressed the need for research to be communicated in a way that clearly articulates its relevance and potential impact. Panellists also mentioned the need to grow digital capacities and use digital innovations to produce presented research.

In conclusion, the session provided valuable insights into the implementation of RES in African governments. The success stories shared by WACIE, ACRES, and the South Africa Centre for Evidence NPC demonstrated that RES can truly empower policy-makers by providing them with timely and tailored evidence. By aligning research with policy needs, offering real-time updates, and ensuring accessibility, RES can play a pivotal role in supporting evidence-informed decision-making processes across Africa and beyond. As more governments embrace RES, the potential for evidence-based policies to create positive change will only continue to grow.


Chair: Thomas Kelly: Director – Evidence for Policy and Learning, International Initiative for Impact Evaluation(3ie)


1. Timothy Lubanga: Office of the Prime Minister, Uganda.
2. Ismael Kawooya: Research Scientist and coordinator at The Center for Rapid Evidence Synthesis (ACRES), Uganda.
3. Deo-Gracias Houndolo: International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie), Benin.
4. Ouollo Clément Sekongo, Commission UEMOA
5. Harsha Dayal: Director of Research & Knowledge Management, Department of Planning, Monitoring & Evaluation, South Africa.
6. Laurenz Mahlanza-Langer: Executive Director, South Africa Centre for Evidence

Related reading from across the AEN:

1. Josephine Watera: The art and science of evidence use in Parliaments: An insider’s story & Building Capacities of VOPEs in East Africa through Peer-to-Peer Learning: Lessons from Uganda Evaluation Association.
2. Fiacre Mushimire: Using data to improve public policy in Rwanda: Blending data

R2A are collaborating with AEN as communication partners for Evidence 2023. To view more related content from AEN and Evidence 23 please visit our dedicated AEN Evidence 23 page!