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

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The seminar reflected on science engagement in South Africa, against the background of the DST’s new Science Engagement Framework. It included reflection on the broader role of science in society, and on the role of the social sciences in science engagement, including the conceptual and empirical challenges that face researchers and policy-makers. Participants also considered the Science Engagement Framework from the national, international, and developing country perspectives. On this basis, the seminar examined prospects for the implementation of the strategy. Using the Square Kilometre Array telescope as a case study  the seminar examined how the different dimensions of the science engagement debate and actors can work together to successfully implement a science engagement strategy.

Drawing upon recent and on-going research in South Africa, this workshop shared knowledge about the development of new measures of spatial inequality and their application as explanatory variables in order to better understand outcomes at both the individual level (e.g. people’s attitudes towards inequality and options for redress) and the area level (e.g. hotspots of social unrest and violent crime). The programme and presentations can be downloaded above. Any other documentation will be uploaded when it becomes available.

The Department of Science and Technology (DST) in collaboration with the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (MISTRA)) hosted a Human and Social Dynamics (HSD) Research Seminar on ‘Public engagement for good governance: the role of the humanities’. The seminar took place on 11 March 2015 at the CSIR Conference Centre in Pretoria. Presentations from the workshop and other documentation can be downloaded above.


On 12 May 2014, a workshop took place in Pretoria, South Africa, which focused on substance abuse, harm reduction and harm prevention. The workshop - a joint initiative by the DST and the HSRC - brought together various stakeholders across sectors and civil society. Given the above scenario, DST and the HSRC made a joint decision to maintain the momentum of interest and concern around substance abuse and harm prevention and therefore need to have a follow-up seminar to formulate a research agenda. The purpose of the event held on 2 March 2015 was to look at the need to conduct a national epidemiological survey every three to four years to establish the prevalence of the various forms of substance use and abuse of licit and illicit drugs at all ages and life stages over time (longitudinally). The conference programme for this seminar and a link to the video presentation are available above.

The workshop held on 15 November 2013 aimed to draw together researchers in universities and science councils with policy makers in the higher education and innovation spaces. The purpose was to debate the role of knowledge producers in different types of universities and science councils in promoting innovation with marginalised communities. Researchers presented their new work, and all participants debated the policy implications of the emerging evidence. Presentations from the workshop and a policy note can be downloaded above. The full report is available on request by contacting the Policy Action Network.

The workshop held on 12 November 2013 aimed to: explore the meanings of the concept of food security and how these are expressed in policies and programmatic interventions of government departments and civil society groups; assess the usefulness of existing indicators to monitor food security- including the quality of available data and information sources; and investigate the range of low-cost and high-frequency approaches available to measure and monitor household food security in South Africa. The workshop discussions took place under three themes: measuring food security in the context of South Africa’s  double burden of hunger and malnutrition, towards developing a comprehensive/composite indicator for food security in South Africa, and, the diversity of household food access in South Africa: comparing tools. Presentations are attached above and the full report can be accessed by contacting the Policy Action Network

In the context of its nationwide implementation, the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) is charged with creating work opportunities in public social programmes (e.g. community-based health and social welfare care and early childhood development). It is recognised that the social sector contributes to the EPWP by employing people, through NGOs and CBOs, to work on home-based care and early childhood development programmes amongst many other programmes. This DST Government Cluster Policy Workshop held on 31 October 2013 provided a platform to address and critique the subject of the EPWP contribution to national development. Presentations and a policy note can be downloaded above. A full report is available on request by contacting the Policy Action Network

This Department of Science and Technology Government Cluster Policy Workshop held on 11 September 2013 spoke to Outcome 7 in government’s programme of action, namely the creation of vibrant, equitable and sustainable rural communities. Specifically Output 4 – improved employment and skills development opportunities (indicator: number of youth participating in the National Rural Youth Service Corps [NARYSEC]).  Participants in this workshop reflected on the successes of and challenges faced in applying the approach and methods used in the NARYSEC programme, drew upon comparable programme experiences, and examined pertinent research evidence. It is expected that the knowledge shared and the recommendations generated in the workshop will inform other national and provincial youth development programmes. Presentations are attached and a policy note from the workshop can be downloaded above. A full report is available from the Policy Action Network on request.

This workshop presented key findings from the 2012 national HIV population-based household survey (SABSSM4) and discussed their implications for both HIV/AIDS policy and programming in the country. The workshop brought together HIV researchers from within the HSRC and from other research organisations, including universities and policy makers drawn from the national Departments of Health, Social Development, Basic Education, Higher Education and Training, and Public Service and Administration. It will also include experts from SANAC Secretariat and its various sectors, UN agencies such as UNAIDS, and PEPFAR and other US agencies such as CDC.

The discussion focused on the current state of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in South Africa, based on the findings of the 2012 population-based household survey (SABSSM4 that were released on 1 April 2014). The main aim was to discuss the implications of the findings on the current HIV/AIDS policies and programmes and efforts to implement them. In addition, it sought to identify gaps in information which could be addressed in next national HIV population-based household survey (SABSSM5) planned for 2015-2016.

Presentations are attached and further reports will be shared when they are made available. The final report and datasets from the survey can be downloaded here. A research brief from the workshop can also be downloaded above.

Link: Publication

Twenty years after the end of apartheid South Africa is a different place. It has a well institutionalized democracy. Significant gains have been made in social equity and in reducing extreme poverty. Yet poverty, unemployment and inequality remain South Africa’s most pressing problems. Social change and enhanced access to rights have not translated into comparable economic shifts – unemployment has risen and inequality remains extreme.The paper starts with a brief review of the literature to explore the main trajectories through which inequality impacts on economic development and growth. This includes consideration of the crucial roles of public policy and institutions, as well as the roles of asset inequality, income inequality, and inequality in access to opportunities.The paper then attempts to grapple with the multi-dimensional nature of inequality in South Africa and how social and economic inequality impact on the scope for economic development.