The Policy > Action Network (P>AN) is hosted by the Research Use and Impact Assessment Unit (RIA) at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and is supported by the Department of Science and Technology.

P>AN supports the policy community by sourcing information on social policy with the aim of contributing to rigour in policy making and greater participation in policy processes. This site contains a range of resources including case studies, policy briefs, research reports, events info and ‘how-to’ info on getting research into policy, and getting policy into action.

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Newsletter: From Evidence to Action

Latest publications

What level of income is needed these days in order to get by, or better still in order to have a decent standard of living?  South Africa is moving in a positive direction towards implementing a national minimum wage, but there is concern about whether it will be sufficient to enable people to cover their costs of living. The amount required for an adequate diet is calculated by Statistics South Africa, but the costs of other aspects of life are less well established. This seminar comprises a series of short presentations with opportunity for discussions. The presentations will comprise: (1) recent findings on the incomes of those who do enjoy a socially-derived decent standard of living in South Africa, and the challenge of how to cost out such a standard of living in order to engage with debates on the adequacy of wages, social security and the social wage; (2) current work in the UK on the Minimum Income Standards (MIS) approach to costing out a decent standard of living, and how this work has been used to inform policy; (3) findings from a pilot of the MIS approach in South Africa; (4) insights from a parallel pilot of the MIS approach in Mexico. The seminar will conclude by identifying pragmatic steps towards costing out a decent standard of living, followed by discussion about the opportunities this will present for sharpening debates about thresholds of adequacy. BACKROUND DOCUMENTS AND PRESENTATIONS ARE ATTACHED.

In Happiness explained: What human flourishing Is and how we can promote It, Paul Anand argues that we should move beyond GDP to instead consider subjective wellbeing as a substantial, significant and necessary measure of national, governmental and individual success. While Jake Eliot suggests that the book does not always fully contend with the significant challenge of deploying this framework in the realm of public policy, it does sterling work of mapping the emergent territory of happiness and wellbeing and convinces of the need to move beyond narrow understandings of outcomes.

This review highlights the breadth of studies referenced in Happiness explained across economics, social psychology and philosophy which may provide sufficient ammunition for those that believe that Sen’s approach to capabilities cannot be developed into an economic index for measurement and analysis. However, this guide does suggest we are getting closer to mapping the territory of wellbeing and developing usable checklists for citizens and policymakers to look beyond narrow outcomes or what appears immediately salient about experiences and interventions.

The government spends the biggest slice of its budget on education, more than any other African country. And yet the crisis persists. In How to Fix South Africa’s Schools: Lessons From Schools That Work, Jonathan Jansen, Vice Chancellor at the University of the Free State and documentary filmmaker Molly Blank look at South African schools that work, in spite of adverse conditions – hunger, poverty, lack of resources, lack of toilets, and overcrowding in both rural and urban environments – and have drawn out the practical strategies that make them successful. Some critical strategies they found include: principal leadership; parental involvement; committed teachers; understanding the whole child; a commitment to quantity and quality; motivational activities; setting performance standards and working effectively to meet them; continuous student assessment; and outside partnerships. The book includes 19 videos that chronicle the stories of these school communities.At the link above excerpts from these documentaries can be viewed.

South African cities as effective drivers of local and national development” is the theme of the fourth edition of the State of South African Cities. It is the product of the accumulated wisdom of five years of knowledge generation and engagement by the SACN and the broader fraternity of urban development practitioners, scholars and analysts. The report’s aim is to improve our understanding of the role of cities and what is required to ensure their success. The Peoples' guide to the report is also available at the above link.


This paper provides a brief review of Mexico’s progressive movement from a sectoral to a governmentwide M&E system. It highlights the critical institutional reforms introduced, the policy decisions, and the most important operational steps that were taken, offering an account of the political context within which such changes and decisions were possible. The paper emphasizes the specific role of the National Council for the Evaluation of Social Policy (CONEVAL) as an innovative development, which furthered institutionalization of evaluation and a results focus at the federal government level through the implementation of the System for Performance Evaluation (SED). A quick review of the governmentwide system’s strengths and main challenges for the future is offered. Some lessons for other countries and conclusions follow.

Report on a conducted collaboratively by the African Institute for Development Policy (AFIDEP) and the Ministry of Health (MoH) to assess both the extent and context of research evidence use in the formulation of policies at the Ministry of Health in Kenya. A team of eight researchers drawn from both AFIDEP and MoH were involved in the design, data collection, analysis and write-up of the report. The study was conducted as part of the SECURE Health (Strengthening Capacity to Use Research Evidence in Health Policy) programme in Kenya, whose overall objective is to optimise access and use of research evidence in health sector decision-making, planning and programming. Decision-makers in public health policy worldwide recognise and believe that the inclusion of evidence in public policy-making is both a desirable and attainable policy goal. Conducted with the aim of strengthening the use of evidence in policy formulation at the MoH, this baseline policy analysis study examined the status of research use, capacity, barriers and facilitators of research use within the MoH in order to provide an information base against which to measure the progress and effectiveness of the SECURE Health interventions.

This publication places emphasis on (re)claiming local democratic space as a means of engaging/realising the significance of enabling inclusive democratic practices, which offer value and legitimacy to community realities. Otherwise, these spaces tend to become places of exclusion and narrowness. With the 2016 municipal elections looming in South Afirca, the theme of (re)claiming local democratic space is critical in cultivating a relationship between local citizenries and elected representatives. The papers in this publication share experiences of the manifestations of institutionalized and to a large extent passive local democratic spaces in South Africa, which have often lead to mistrust between different interest groups. Furthermore, the papers advocate for (re)claiming local democratic space through meaningful partnerships, participation, and active citizenry as well as the use of different modalities and technologies to encourage and support the voices of local communities. A recurring theme in the publication is the need for meaningful citizen-state engagement that is cultivated by the role of intermediaries in an attempt to achieve the true nature of democracy #socialinnovation


Jaap de Visser and Nico Steytler, both professors at the Dullah Omar Institute, have written a manual entitled: Electing Councillors – A Guide to Municipal Elections which explains the rules for local government elections. It discusses the rules for voter registration, party registration, ward candidates and party lists. It also explains what happens on voting day, how votes are counted and how results are determined.

The authors say its objective is to assist anyone who participates in the election or assists in making it happen. This includes election officials, candidates, parties, observers, journalists, civil society and anyone with an interest in the elections. The manual also addresses the rules for filling vacancies in between general elections.

According to the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Des van Rooyen, the Manual provides insight into the electoral process and will ensure that the various role-players are suitably informed of the rules and regulations governing them. The Minister hopes in particular that citizens, the media, political parties and their candidates take note of these legal prescripts.


An open acces monograph which considers how social innovation should be researched. And what should be the relationship between research and action? This piece discusses what can be known about social innovation, how research agendas could evolve and how the study of social innovation fits into the broader picture of research on innovation.

The seminar is aimed at providing an understanding of South African protests within a global and international comparative context.This seminar may be attended via the HSRC video conferences in Pretoria, Cape Town , Port Elizabeth and KwaZulu-Natal. The speakers will be located in Pretoria.You may also join via Vidyo on your computer or mobile device via this link:

The value of the  seminar is that it brings together researchers, policymakers and knowledge producers to engage around current practice. Such engagements will potentially  inform policy strategies and mechanisms that may facilitate the promotion of the social sciences and humanities and innovation for inclusive development at national and organisational levels.

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