Friday, April 22, 2016

Ghana's researchers recycle plastic to refine metals

Ghana is the second largest producer of gold in Africa and a 
major producer of manganese and the main aluminium ore, 
bauxite. Yet, despite mining accounting for more than a third 
of the country’s export earnings, none of these minerals are 
currently processed domestically, meaning the country is losing 
out on the huge profits to be gained by adding value to raw 
materials. A rich seam of other minerals, including iron ore, 
are as yet untapped.


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Follow-up shows positive impacts of training on EIPM participants

Capacity building is an integral part of development assistance. It seeks to build the understanding, skills and knowledge-base of individuals and institutions. But after capacity building, it is prudent to justify the intervention by measuring the impact it has on trainees.

 In 2015, the VakaYiko consortium entered an agreement with the Civil Service Training Centre (CSTC) in Ghana to develop a course and train civil servants on Evidence-Informed Policy Making (EIPM). From April 20 to 30, 2015, 23 officers from 14 Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the civil service and 2 parliamentary staff participated in the first batch of the course.

Participants were taken through all four (4) modules of the course ranging from the concepts of evidence and evidence-informed policymaking; challenges and opportunities involved with the use of evidence for policymaking; different sources of evidence and evidence products available; accessing these evidence literature; appraising the evidence literature; understanding methodological issues within the literature; and communicating evidence gathered to appropriate audience(s) using appropriate communication tools and media.

Based on Action Plans submitted a follow-up impact assessment was carried out from August 17 to October 8, 2015 for 3 main objectives;  to assess the status of Action Plan implementation by participants, to learn from conditions existing at their work places for course improvement, and to assist with communicating best practices. Data was collected from twenty participants served as respondents.

Five thematic areas were assessed:

Action Plan
Participants were assessed on the levels at which they had implemented their actions plans. Twenty percent of the participants completed the implementation of their action plans, 40% were almost complete and the remaining 40% were half way through the implementation of their plans.

On challenges encountered in the implementation of the action plans, 1 respondent did not encountered any challenge, 9 reported overloaded work schedules, 3 had a problem of internet connectivity, 3 were isolated by their members and 2 did not get adequate support from their colleagues.

Participants were also assessed on factors that created enabling environment for the implementation of their action plans. Sixteen (57.1%) respondents received cooperation from team members involved in the action plan implementation. This was confirmed by their supervisors. Other enabling factors for the performance include; the fact that activities being implemented were satisfying organisational needs; that minimal organisational resources were required; that strategic buy-ins were secured from stakeholders within and outside the organisations; and that participants showed positive attitude towards the implementation of action plans.

Internal monitoring and evaluation
Participants were required to monitor and evaluate their action plans, and they used varied means to monitor and evaluate their actions — crosschecking action plans; looking out for output/indicators; personal visits; as part of to do lists; and by collaborating with other colleagues.

Using these M&E activities as guiding tools, 1 participant developed an information request form to be used by the front desk unit of the organisation for information to regularise and clarify the nature of information request. Twelve others sensitised members of their organisations; whiles another 4 made efforts to organise internally created documents.

Another 3 participants satisfied their obligations by working to gather evidence in the form of data/information/research publications for their organisations, activities that have been stimulated by the training. Other outstanding activities perform by the participants include; uploading documents onto the website, gathering feedback, sensitisation and uploading database with current data.

Effects of training
Participants experience better appreciation of internal documents for EIPM; better understanding of research methodologies, increased knowledge of information/evidence sources, enhanced skill-set to access evidence, improved contribution to policy documents, critical thinking capacity when assessing evidence products and an increased awareness and appreciation of EIPM concepts.

General feedback and recommendation

In general the EIPM course has enhanced the skills of participants to access evidence, improved their contributions to policy documents and increased ability to communicate evidence. All the participants recommended EIPM training to their colleagues. The training is believed to be having significant effects on participants and their organisations. Constant introduction of innovations by participants to their work places will result is marked improvement in policy making processes with Ghana’s Civil Service.

It is recommended that support be offered to successful graduates of these trainings once they return to their organizations, and training partners must endeavour to consolidate the implementation of these action plan through follow-ups such as was conducted by VakaYiko partners.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Evidence-Informed Policy Making in Ghana—GINKS Shows the way

Evidence-Informed Policy Making in Ghana — GINKS Shows the way
There is a growing demand for evidence informed policy making to improve relevance, efficiency and effectiveness of policy reforms. It is argued that the absence of evidence leads to opinion based policies which rely deeply on either the selective use of evidence or experimental opinions of individuals or groups. 

Evidence-informed policy making is grounded on the fact that policy decisions should be informed by available evidence and balanced analysis of the policy issue in question. This is based on the fact that a policy decision made on evidence is likely to produce a better outcome than one that is opinion-based. 

The VakaYiko Consortium  
To increase the use of evidence in policy making in developing countries, the VakaYiko consortium, a network of NGOs working in Ghana, Zimbabwe and South Africa; the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and International Network for the Availability of Scientific Information (INASP) was formed based on the premise that for research evidence to be routinely and effectively used in policy-making, at least three factors need to be in place: individuals with the skills to access, evaluate and use research evidence; processes for handling research evidence in policy-making departments; and a facilitating environment that identifies and responds to research uptake needs.

Ghanaian Researchers’ Perspectives

From the perspectives of researchers, there is no synergy between them (researchers) and policy makers. There is also the need to demystify research and policy making. Even though there are a number of platforms from which evidence (in the form of data, research articles, expert opinion and citizen knowledge) can be accessed for policy making in Ghana, the question remains whether potential users are aware of these, and have the necessary skills to access them, and also check for quality across the various platforms.

GINKS Training Programmes

GINKS, the consortium representative in Ghana, started building the capacity of civil servants and parliamentary staff on evidence-informed policy making. So far, GINKS has trained over 60 people from Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) and information support staff of the Parliament of Ghana. In April, 2015, GINKS in collaboration with the Civil Service Training Centre (CSTC), trained staff from MDAs on evidence-informed policy making. The Head of Civil Service in Ghana, Nana Dwemena Agyekum, lauded the EIPM approach as a unique one that would move people away from the usual desk-top policy formulation to a more rigorous scientific process.  Clara Richards, Director of the consortium, said civil servants needed skills to be able to search for relevant information and effectively communicate it to those who make policy.

This programme was followed in October by another training programme for middle level staff working in MDAs. In her interaction with participants, the Principal of the CSTC, Mrs Dora Dei-Tumi indicated that the quality of information submitted to cabinet effects the quality of policies the government of the day will formulate. She reiterated the core function of the civil service as the provision of policy options for government, adding that the CSTC was taking advantage of GINKS’ support to build the capacity of civil servants to be able to provide information that speaks to the needs of government.

GINKS also recognises that the role information support staff of parliament play in policy. The organisation therefore opened this year with a ten day capacity building training for this level of staff. A Deputy Clerk of Parliament, Alhaji Ibrahim Gombilla, was excited at the support extended by GINKS to the parliamentary staff. He said parliament places a lot of emphasis on capacity building but did not have all the resources to do it alone; hence, GINKS' support was timely.

GINKS has also built the capacity of staff of District Assemblies through policy dialogue in Ho and Koforidua in the Volta and Eastern regions of Ghana respectively. 

Training people on evidence-informed policy making also involve evaluating the trainees at their work places to get first-hand information on how the training impacts on their performance. GINKS therefore make follow to ups to evaluate action plans drawn by trainees during these trainings and the results have been encouraging.

By Sule Jotie (GINKS)

Knowledge café on evidence-informed policy-making in Zimbabwe

There are examples of successful policies in Zimbabwe, informed 
by evidence. But, since independence, policymaking has largely 
been reactionary and ideologically driven. This has resulted in 
many policy inconsistencies and failures. The need to build 
institutional capacity to make informed policy decisions in 
Zimbabwe is especially urgent now, as Zimbabwe faces 
major economic challenges.

ZeipNet - Evidence Informed Policymaking Interviews

Evidence informed policymaking (EIPM) is an approach that 
ensures decision-making is well informed by the best available 
evidence. A number of studies show that most policy failures 
and inconsistencies are largely caused by, either a lack of evidence, 
or a lack of rigor in evidence used to create or review policies. 
EIPM, therefore, requires systematic and transparent access to, 
and appraisal of, evidence as part of the policymaking process.

Press Conference: Discussion Forum to be Hosted by ZeipNet in partnership with AEN

Zimbabwe Evidence Informed Policy Network in partnership 
with the African Evidence Network are to host a forum on the 
national evidence infrastructure in Zimbabwe: Strengthening 
the institutional landscape to support Evidence-Informed 
Policy-Making. Crowne Plaza Monomotapa Hotel, Harare

ZeipNet Interview series - Interview with ZimOnline Media

Published on Feb 4, 2016
Simbarashe Nyanhanga from ZimOnline News, a subsidiary 
of Simba Media Incorporated interviews Zimbabwe Evidence 
Informed Policy Network (ZeiNpet) officials Ronald Munatsi 
and Gilchrist Ndongwe on Evidence Informed Policy Making 
in Zimbabwe.This interview was done as a follow up to the 
press conference held by ZeipNet on the 2nd of February 2016.