Supported By UJ-BCURE

Building Capacity to Use Research Evidence

A team from the University of Johannesburg led by Prof Ruth Stewart has been funded by the Department for International Development (DFID) for a 3-year programme of work building capacity to use research evidence. The University is working with a network of partners from across Africa, including the South African Cochrane Centre, the Centre for Evidence-Based Health Care at the University of Stellenbosch, the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie), the EPPI-Centre and many others. Our goal is to increase the use of evidence in decision-making in the governments of Malawi and South Africa. In 2014 we conducted ‘inception activities’ including landscape reviews and needs assessments, developing resources and building networks. Our capacity-building programme employs a mentorship-based model, with practical workshops and linked mentorships. We are also engaging with a wider community of practice across Africa building and supporting the Africa Evidence Network. As part of our support for the Network, we publish regular blogs, provide information on events across the continent via our website, share resources, and are hosting two conferences (in 2014 in Johannesburg, and this one in Pretoria). Together we form a broad community of evidence-producers and users with the goal of increasing both the production and use of research evidence across the region.


Programme Director

Prof Ruth Stewart is leading the UJ-BCURE programme. Having grown up in Malawi, she has been working in South Africa since 1998. She has a background in social sciences, and has worked across academia and government. Her work includes the production of evidence for decision-makers, as well as supporting civil servants to access and make sense of research.

Programme Deputy Director & Country Manager- Malawi

Yvonne Erasmus (PhD, Univ of London) is the deputy director for the UJ-BCURE programme and country manager for the work in Malawi. She is an experienced project manager and researcher, with experience of doing work for universities, commercial companies, international donors and government. Her academic background in is political sciences and development studies and she is particularly interested in inter-disciplinary work and how research can be used to bring about social change.

Programme Administrator

Christa Heyneke holds the position of Programme Administrator in the UJ-BCURE program. She’s responsible for amongst other numerous things, the administrative tasks of the unit, including managing bookings for video conferences, group telephone conferences, launches, travel bookings and team building. Christa’s passionate about painting and spends a lot of her spare time in creating oil paintings.

Project Manager- South Africa

Russell Andrew Wildeman
Russell Wildeman is the Project Manager for the South African BCURE Programme. Russel holds a master’s degree in Political Management Cum Laude. He has more than 13 years’ experience in the development sector and has focused on areas as diverse as social service sector budget analyses, social accountability and public finance sector reforms in Africa. He is also a quantitative education researcher and has done original education finance research in South Africa. He has led cross-country projects of varying size in Sub-Saharan Africa, including work on the right of access to information, the role of small-scale farmers in economic development, building the capacity of farmer organisations to analyse their respective national budgets, and personally mentoring organisations in Southern African to unpack the impact of governments’ budgets on children. He directed the largest social accountability network in Africa and through this work, liaised with leading civil society organisations and governments in Sub-Saharan Africa.

South Africa Country Manager: Mentorships

S jordaan
Sunet Jordaan is the South Africa Country Manager: Mentorships for the UJ-BCURE programme. She is an experienced project manager with a passion for facilitation as well as monitoring and evaluation. She has experience in doing work for universities, non-governmental organisations, international donors and government. Her academic background is in development studies and gender. Her work mainly focus on health system strengthening, monitoring and evaluation and education.

Project Manager- Malawi

Desyree Lotter
Desyree Lotter is the project manager for the UJ-BCURE work in Malawi. Desyree is an experienced project manager having worked in the NGO sector for more than a decade. Her experience spans East and Southern Africa as well as having worked for NGOs and donor funders in Europe. Her academic background is in business studies and human rights studies, having completed a MBA and MA Human Rights. Desyree is particularly interested in interdisciplinary work/studies related to the relationship between human and environmental rights; and how this relationship influences changes within society.

Africa Evidence Network Coordinator

Precious Motha is the coordinator for the Africa Evidence Network (AEN), which is a network of researchers, practitioners, policy makers and everyone with an interest in evidence-informed decision making. She has extensive experience in digital communication, website content management, marketing, public relations, events management and social media. She holds a BA in Psychology and a BA Hons in Industrial Sociology, both from the University of Johannesburg, as well as a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from Wits Business School.


Laurenz Langer is a researcher supporting both the BCURE programme and the Africa Evidence Network. He combines four years of development work in Southern Africa with a degree in Development Studies from the University of Johannesburg. With a passion for evidence-informed development, he has worked on a number of international development reviews and currently is a doctoral candidate at the University of London. His research interest focuses on Development Effectiveness and mixed-methods research synthesis