Collaborative response from the Directors of: Africa Centre for Evidence, University of Johannesburg, and Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University College London - Written evidence (ZAF0004)
The International Relations Committee inquiry: the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa – prosperity, peace and development co-operation.
1. This response is based on our 20 years of joint working to support decision-making in Africa to strengthen policy and its implementation.
2. Our joint work supporting governments in the UK and across Africa to use the best available evidence to inform their decisions draws on well-established moral and instrumental cases for evidence-informed decision-making (EIDM). Evidence-informed decision-making has the potential to increase transparency, increase accountability, ensure judicious use of resources, avoid harmful policies, guide policy implementation, and increase development impacts. Evidence-informed decision-making relies on thinking critically about on the totality of evidence available, testing the trustworthiness of claims, and taking into account values and contextual relevance.
3. We commend the UK approach to work through the AU to support African goals, to prioritise African culture and values, and find African solutions for African problems. We have learnt from experience that supporting governments to use evidence in decision-making is most effective when we tackle common challenges and focus on finding shared solutions. We have found that global challenges need global solutions that span national, policy sector and conventional academic boundaries. There is a need to invest in building cross-boundary relationships and on co-producing new understandings.
4. The Lords Select Committee for International Relations should base their decisions on two significant bodies of knowledge: about how to support evidence-informed decision-making to enhance transparency and accountability in Africa, and about how to work collaboratively with stakeholders to enable shared solutions and ensure African ownership. We recommend that the Committee taps into specialist expertise within UK and African universities in how to support evidence-informed decision-making in governments.
5. The Committee should adopt a critical lens to the evidence, and support the AU in doing the same, to ensure that decisions that are made to support Agenda 2063 are based on the best available evidence and have the potential to be transparent and accountable.
6. We actively encourage the UK government to adopt a philosophy of relationship-building and cross-cultural learning in designing and delivering support to the AU to deliver Agenda 2063.
Professor Sandy Oliver, Director, Social Science Research Unit, UCL: Institute of Education, UK
Professor Ruth Stewart, Director, Africa Centre for Evidence, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
Received 2 October 2019