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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Following on an earlier seminar on this issue, we will now host a further seminar where Katharine Frost from Ububele will present on the theoretical underpinnings of the approach taken to further build up our understanding of these projects. South Africa’s ECD policy is progressive but there remains a gap between policy and intervention/implementation. The centrality of relationships i.e. attachment and bonding in the first 1000 days of a child’s life is acknowledged, but this knowledge needs to be translated into practice. A case example will be presented where attachment theory has been integrated into a project and where there is now some evidence to support its effectiveness.

Report from the the High Level Panel, an initiative of the Speakers’ Forum of Parliament, aimed at taking stock of the impact of legislation insofar as it advances or impedes progress in addressing the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality in South Africa. A key focus area which includes multiple submissions, is land reform, restitution, redistribution and security of tenure.  The Constitution provides for three rights to land: the right to equitable access to land, the right to tenure security and the right to restitution. The Panel’s work, including submissions from the public and expert reports, reveals that the record on the progressive realisation of these rights is concerning. The pace of land reform has been slow. The development of policy and law has drifted away from its initial pro-poor stance and lacks a vision for inclusive agrarian reform. There are also significant gaps, such as on tenure security, where legislation has not been passed, putting the lives and livelihoods of many rural dwellers in peril. The government’s interpretation of customary law, centred on traditional leadership and away from living custom, has added to insecurity. The Panel’s recommendations combine a range of high-level, but also detailed, inputs to the formulation of legislation and a framework for land reform, focusing on redistribution.   

An Alliance for Useful Evidence translation of a recent French scoping of evidence intermediaries, by the Agence Novelle de Solidarités Active (ANSA) and partners 'British What Works Centres: What Evidence for Evidence Based Policy?. The report summarises the evidence production, synthesis and dissemination activities of the UK What Works Centres. It analyses their knowledge mobilisation activities, where they provide support for evidence to be put into action. The report makes recommendations for French policy makers, based on the French context, but overall it is a very useful international resource for policy makers and institutions interested in setting up an evidence intermediary. It includes a summary of learning from the UK What Works Centres and readable case studies.

Article from The Conversation which argues that there are at least six main barriers to the use of research in policymaking. These are the complexity of evidence, absence of personal relationships between researchers and policymakers, the time it takes to do quality research, the perceived irrelevance of research, a lack of analytical capacity within governments, and budget constraints. Concludes that whilst there is no silver bullet to overcoming these barriers, building strong relationships between researchers and policymakers is a good place to start.

Briefing on Ghana's evidence informed policymaking programme, suggesting that it seems to have had a positive residual impact on individual civil service personnel who participated between 2013 and 2016. However, individuals still face institutional barriers to using data and evidence to inform programs and practices. The programme contributed to knowledge and skill building among colleagues and peers. Mandatory action plans included in the EIP training process required trainees to collaborate with colleagues in their respective ministries, creating an opportunity for them to sensitize their colleagues to the importance of using data and evidence. Trainees also reported that they briefed managers and colleagues about what they learned and drafted formal write-ups on the course. The EIP training also fostered the development of informal networks of contacts across national offices involved in evidence production and use. One group of trainees formed a WhatsApp group to keep in touch with one another after the training program ended and reported that they used the group to share information and invite networking and collaboration.

Can boundary objects be designed to help researchers and decision makers to interact more effectively? How can the socio-political setting – which will affect decisions made – be reflected in the boundary objects?

Describes a new context-specific boundary object to promote decision making based on scientific evidence. But first I provide a brief introduction to boundary objects. 

In transdisciplinary research, employing a ‘boundary object’ is a widely used method to facilitate communication and understanding among stakeholder groups with different epistemologies. Boundary objects are abstract tools adaptable to different perspectives and across knowledge domains to serve as a means of symbolic communication.

Boundary objects help people to think outside the box and communicate in different ways. Such objects can take multiple forms from conceptual models, artwork and graphical tools.

The aim of this paper is to explain the evolving size and shape of South Africa’s government machinery. The country’s state apparatus underwent extensive organisational restructuring following its democratic transition in 1994. However, this base component of South Africa’s public administration has largely been overlooked in the post-apartheid literature, which has focused on a host of more politically-sensitive issues such as personnel restructuring, service delivery pressures, and maladministration and corruption. In an effort to address this gap in the story of state transformation the structural evolution of the state in the democratic period is traced. 

This documentary, directed by Miki Redelinghuis, chronicles the battle for the land of Makhasaneni – a by-now familiar struggle. In 2011, residents discovered geologists prospecting on their land. Soon afterwards, crops began dying. The soil and water became too contaminated to continue farming. The land, they learned, had been sold to mining giant Jindal Africa by their chief, who got the go-ahead from the Ingonyama Trust. Ingonyama, set up at the tail end of apartheid, holds nearly three million hectares of traditional land in KwaZulu-Natal, with King Goodwill Zwelithini as the sole trustee (Daily Maverick). To arrange screenings go to:

This booklet has been authored by Professor Anton Eberhard and Catrina Godinho of the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business. The aim of this reference book is to assist Public Enterprises Committee members with objective, research-based facts on some of the deeply complex challenges Eskom. The aim is to make sense of complex situations and explain these, and that by joining the dots this booklet will contribute to the empowerment of civil society, journalists, and concerned members of the general public, so that they can follow and support the inquiry. The booklet touches on Eskom’s coal procurement controversies (squeezing out the coal majors and making room for the Gupta-linked Tegeta and Optimum ‘heist’), large refurbishment contracts (such as the Koeberg steam generators and Duvha’s Unit 3 boiler), new build sub-contracts (Impulse), advisory services (Trillian), ICT (T-Systems), and media (New Age). Suggested areas for further investigation are flagged, as well as key lines of questioning and possible recommendations.

The National Executive Committee  (NEC) of the African National Congress (ANC) adopted the roadmap to the National Policy Conference, which will be held at the end of June 2017. The National Policy Conference reviews ANC policy and makes recommendations on amendments or new policies to the National Conference. Discussion documents are available at the link below