What to expect at Evidence 2018

By Natalie Tannous

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Have you ever wanted to benefit from the wisdom of Professor Sandy Oliver about her experience of working between the worlds of policy and research? Or longed to have the charismatic Professor John Lavis show you how to find and use evidence in your decision-making? Or perhaps, like many of us, you want to understand better the evidence-informed decision-making landscape in your home country, meeting colleagues in the field as you do. If any or all of these objectives sound appealing, you should be registered to attend EVIDENCE 2018 because you’ll find all this – and more – in this year’s programme.

Day 1 of EVIDENCE 2018 – a brief look

The programme this year begins with a day filled with exciting satellite sessions; read more about those in another blog post. Day one of the conference kicks off with a welcome address by AEN chairperson Professor Ruth Stewart, and an introduction to EVIDENCE 2018 co-chairs Drs Rhona Mijumbi-Deve and Shanil Haricharan. After the welcome address, delegates can expect an opening plenary by Mark Heywood of Section 27 in South Africa. Sarah Lucas of the Hewlett Foundation and Diakalia Sanogo of the International Development Research Centre follow Mr Heywood before lunch to give delegates an update on the African Evidence-Informed Policy Forum in Nairobi. In the session after lunch, delegates will enjoy a pan-African cross-governmental panel. The speakers on this panel will share their institutional insights into various evidence-informed policy-making approaches in Africa. The afternoon plenary will be dedicated to the strands of EVIDENCE 2018: quality education, communicable diseases, climate resilience, and good governance. Here, invited speakers who work within these sectors will introduce the strands which will feature prominently on day two of EVIDENCE 2018.

Day 2 of EVIDENCE 2018 – a momentary glance

The second day of EVIDENCE 2018 is dedicated to the abstract presentations and oral poster pod presentations submitted by delegates. Happening in three different rooms from 09:00 until 17:00, the day promises to be jam-packed with the latest ideas and experiences to support evidence-informed decision-making in Africa from across the globe. Tasters of what delegates can expect from these nine sessions focussing on evidence for the various conference strands include:

  • Strengthening the supply side of evidence-informed decision-making,
  • Timely and responsive evidence: rapid evidence services and living reviews,
  • The role of monitoring and evaluation in evidence-informed decision-making,
  • Evidence and citizens,
  • Evidence and funders, and
  • Mechanisms and networks in evidence-informed decision-making.

It is on this day that delegates will be able to hear Professor Sandy Oliver discuss ‘How the worlds of policy and research interact to produce evidence for public policy decisions’ or hear Anne Ithibu’s thoughts on ‘Governance in global fund grants at country-level – room for improvement’. The full programme – in its latest form as we work to constantly update it – is accessible on the EVIDENCE 2018 website.

Delegates will also be able to catch the 15 oral poster pods that capture the evidence-informed decision-making landscape across Africa, including Ghana, Uganda, Swaziland, and Cameroon. Other oral poster pods include topics such as ‘Of Africa’s arts and culture: potential for promoting the use of best practices in basic services’ and ‘Making the dividend count: the role of communication in bridging demographic dividend research and Africa’s policy processes’.

Day 3 of EVIDENCE 2018 – a fleeting gaze

The final day of EVIDENCE 2018 starts with a panel discussion by the strand leaders of EVIDENCE 2018 on the emergent themes emanating from the previous days’ strands. The inaugural winner of the Africa Evidence Leadership Award – Velia Manyonga – will then share with us a case study of her experiences of supporting the Members of Parliament in Malawi to use evidence when making decisions. Excitingly, she will reflect on the role that networks such as the AEN can play in furthering this work. Professor John Lavis will follow after Ms Manyonga to discuss with delegates ‘The next five-year agenda for supporting evidence-informed decision-making? Building bridges, adapting innovations and learning across issues and contexts’, before co-chair Dr Shanil Haricharan provides a wrap up discussion that focuses on ‘what next’.

After hours – non-programme events to look forward to

Not only are the daylight hours filled with exciting content and information-sharing, but delegates can also expect the post-work hours to be filled with fun and engaging opportunities for networking. Between the ample time for lunch and refreshment breaks to facilitate meetings, networking, and planning future collaboration, other exciting after-hours events that delegates can look forward to include:

  • First-time attendees’ welcome event: Wednesday 26 September 09:00 – 10:00, Foyer
  • Welcome reception: Wednesday 26 September 17:30 – 20:00, Deck
  • Private lunch to celebrate the Africa Evidence Leadership Award winner: Thursday 27 September, 12:00 – 13:00, invite only.
  • Closing lunch: Friday 28 September 12:30 – 14:00, Deck

Registration is still open so make sure you attend Africa’s preeminent event on evidence-informed decision-making. Not yet a member of the AEN? Join us – sign up today for our monthly newsletter