Evidence Tori Dey: Bridging the Research to Action Gap with African Storytelling

By 07/11/2023

On the 18th of October, the dynamic trio of Patrick Okwen, Penka Marthe, and Leoman, introduced us to a refreshing new framework to bridge the gap between research and action. eBASE Africa’s storytelling workshop – ‘Evidence Tori Dey: An African-Led Approach for Health Guidelines and Dissemination – presented an innovative new tool that is rooted in the rich tradition of Indigenous African storytelling.

The workshop kicked off with an intriguing exercise: ‘How would you explain evidence to a 5-year-old?’ It turns out that this is no simple task – this is where ‘Evidence Tori Dey’ comes in. By harnessing the unique power of storytelling, it conveys evidence in a way that’s not only easy to understand but profoundly engaging for its users.

‘Evidence Tori Dey’ is more than just a framework; it is a systematic and interactive approach to conveying data that is deeply influenced by Indigenous African storytelling principles. The name itself translates to ‘let’s talk evidence’, which perfectly embodies its mission to tackle inequity in access to evidence and knowledge –  a persistent barrier to evidence-informed decision-making (EIDM) in Africa. For instance, while the continent boasts an abundance of Indigenous languages, research publications still favour English. The problem is clear – all too often, evidence does not reach those it is trying to help.

In this context, storytelling emerges as a vital bridge, combining entertainment and education. Through mediums such as drama, dance, poems, songs and mime, it transforms data representation into a universal art form. Stories have a unique ability to connect with individuals on a personal level. So, if people can relate to the characters in an evidence story, seeing their lives and struggles reflected back at them, then they will be more open to changing their behaviour. More importantly, they can understand why they’re doing it. Meanwhile, the impact can be easily observed in the stories that emerge back from the communities, be they positive or negative.

Why should researchers embrace this framework?

‘Evidence Tori Dey’ is an Indigenous approach to the communication of knowledge and the evaluation of change over time that is based on collaboration, respect and inclusivity. It ensures that evidence resonates with its audience by crafting its messages accordingly.

The approach is innovative, effective and inspiring. But it still needs funding and our collective support to take off.

In conclusion, ‘Evidence Tori Dey’ offers a refreshing approach to breaking down the barriers that have long separated research from actionable results. It isn’t just about making evidence more accessible—it’s about making it engaging and impactful. This framework is a catalyst for change, a step towards a future where the richness of African storytelling empowers decision-makers and communities to drive transformation.