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:
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.