Kenya hosts The 1st African Evidence to Action Conference and Exhibition 2018
Bridging the gap: Strengthening the connections between Research, Evaluation and Evidence-based Policies and Practices in sub-Saharan Africa
This highly lauded convening conceptualized by the International Centre for Evaluation and Development and Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Assets and Market Access (AMA Lab), took place on 26th and 27th of August in Nairobi, Kenya. The conference aimed to highlight the role that research and evaluation plays in the shaping of policy, programs and governance. The idea of a forum to promote the use of credible evidence to inform the design of policy and practice in support of the national development agenda attracted interest from national government, academia and researchers keen to partner. The Monitoring and Evaluation Department at The National Treasury and Planning co-hosted the conference highlighting the government’s commitment to entrenching effective monitoring and evaluation frameworks to achieve the country’s Big 4 Agenda and SDG’s. Other partners included The Campbell Collaboration, Agriculture Technology Adoption Initiative (ATAI), Tegemeo Institute, the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), African Institute for Development Policy (AFIDEP), The Evaluation Society of Kenya and the African Evaluation Association (AfREA). The United States International University - Africa (USIU-A) joined as key partners and provided a venue for the conference noting the need to increase the capacity of professionals to inculcate a culture of monitoring and evaluation.
The program for the conference was modelled around nine sub themes designed to initiate dialogue amongst stakeholders and chart the way forward. These thematic areas included Agriculture and Food Systems in Sub- Saharan Africa; Climate Change and Environment; Agriculture Risk, Index Insurance and Risk Mitigation; Private Sector in Development; Impact of investment in Agriculture and Food Systems; Innovative Finance, Credit and Savings for Smallholders; Systematic Review and Impact Evaluation for Policy Making; Gender and Youth in Agriculture and Food Systems and National and Local Governance and Accountability. Delegates were drawn from around the world for the opportunity to network and share knowledge amongst stakeholders with representation from over ten countries. Highly valued was the diversity of the break out sessions, the depth of the speakers in the panel sessions and the openness of policymakers in speaking about the challenges faced in design and implementation of policy in the African context.
Over three hundred delegates heard the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Devolution, Kenya Mr. Charles Sunkuli, recognize the value of research and evaluation to enhance impact within the devolution framework and acknowledge the challenges with resources to optimally support counties. Similarly, the Deputy Minister from the Ministry of Monitoring and Evaluation, Ghana Hon. Dr. Wiliam Sabi spoke of the importance of building partnerships and strengthening collaborations to improve efficacy of policy making despite challenges faced in capacity building. The Cabinet Secretary for the National Treasury and Planning Kenya, Mr. Henry Rotich highlighted three areas that stakeholder support in policy making was critical including aligning research and evaluation to the national agenda, relevant and contextual research and evaluation, partnership and collaboration to build capacity and effective communication and sharing of findings. It is against this background that the Cabinet Secretary announced plans to see the Department of Monitoring and Evaluation become an independent entity drawing one percent of the country’s development budget to strengthen efficiency, enhance transparency and reinforce accountability.
Delighted by this announcement and speaking at the conference, the CEO and President of the International Centre for Evaluation and Development, Dr. David Ameyaw remarked that the premise of the conference was to advance the use of evidence-based policy making and development practices that will promote growth, transform lives and improve livelihoods on the continent. He highlighted that collaboration amongst stakeholders and partnership with the government are the steps necessary to build capacity and committed to supporting the national government on their plans announcing that, ‘In conjunction with national governments, international and national organization, donor agencies and others, the Evidence to Action Conference is now a regional convening in Africa and we are looking forward to next year’s conference.’