Policy into action


­This section of the site is being redeveloped and is under construction. This collection of documents will focus on policy processes and implementation.

Related publications

Provides an overview of approaches to monitoring and evaluating policy influence, based on an exploratory review of the literature and selected interviews with expert informants, as well as ongoing discussions and advisory projects for policy-makers and practitioners who also face the challenges of monitoring and evaluation.

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.

Indonesian village law

Watch the podcast of  Working politically: A story of change about the contribution of research evidence to the new village law in Indonesia. On December 18th 2013, the Indonesian House of Representatives passed the new Village Law, a vote that was the culmination of a journey that started in 2007. This story of change takes the passing of the village law as its starting point and describes the relative influence that research-based evidence produced by the Institute for Research and Empowerment has had at critical junctions of the legislative process. It concludes that good quality research-based evidence is necessary but not sufficient to influence policy-making processes. Suggests that researchers and research organisations need to think and work politically to achieve their influencing goals and adapt to changes in local circumstances.  

evidence use in policymaking

A collection of open-access articles on the use of evidence in policymaking from Palgrave Communications

PAN:Children is hosting a Colloquium on lone mothers, social security and dignity in South Africa on 6 June 2014 at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) in Pretoria. The purpose of this colloquium is to share results from DFID/ESRC -funded project that is nearing completion and to discuss with the attendees the emerging findings and policy implications. The project entitled ' Lone mothers in South Africa- The role of social security in respecting and protecting dignity' was led by Professor Noble at the University of Oxford and involved collaborations with colleagues at the Human Sciences Research Council and the University of the Western Cape. This event is for stakeholders in government and civil society.

The reasons given for writing this paper are:

  • To better reflect on what has worked and what has not in terms of the key activities of the programme: research production, capacity development and networking and partnerships.
  • To produce valuable evidence that can guide strategic design of future work by the diverse partners of the programme.
  • To share this knowledge with organisations/persons working in this field.

Highlights that the most valuable lessons contained in these pages have derived from interaction with others. This paper is a product of continuous collective thinking: it is not what we have learned just by ourselves but what we have reflected upon, digested, discussed and discovered by talking with other colleagues and experts, asking for their feedback, encouraging them to question and challenge us, asking about what could be different or improved in the future.

A GSDRC Helpdesk Report which answers the following questions: Provide examples of African regional professional associations considered effective. What explains their success and what role does leadership play?

This report provides examples of professional and academic associations that work across three or more African countries, and that have some evidence of success. Types of impact are varied, but are usually identified as strong membership, attendance at national or international meetings, awareness of the organisation in the wider sphere, dissemination and uptake of publications, and connection or influence on policy and policymakers. The report particularly tries to draw out any impacts on governance in the wider public sphere, but most of the indicators of success focus on inputs or outputs rather than outcomes, and do not identify broader social or policy change.

An anthology from McKinsey’s Voices on Society  where leading social thinkers and practitioners present delivery models for social change and cutting-edge approaches to implementing improvements in health care, food security, financial services, governance, and other areas. Contributors, including former UK prime minister Tony Blair, author Dambisa Moyo, food activist Jamie Oliver, social entrepreneur Salman Kahn, and many others share their ideas on how to create successful social-sector delivery programs for those who need them most.

How did we come to think that eliminating poverty is a legitimate goal for public policy? What types of policies have emerged in the hope of attaining that goal? The last 200 years have witnessed a dramatic change in thinking about poverty. Mainstream economic thinking in the 18th century held that poverty was necessary and even desirable for a country’s economic success. Today, poverty is more often viewed as a constraint on that success. In short, poverty switched from being seen as a social good to a social bad. This change in thinking, and the accompanying progress in knowledge, has greatly influenced public action, with heightened emphasis on the role of antipoverty policy in sustainable promotion from poverty, as well as protection. Development strategies today typically strive for a virtuous cycle of growth with equity and a range of policy interventions have emerged that aim to help assure that outcome. An expanding body of knowledge has taught us about how effective those interventions are in specific settings, although many knowledge gaps remain.

Also read the related opnion piece by the author


Stakeholder roles in the application of evidence are influenced by context, the nature of the evidence, the policy development process, and stakeholder interactions. Past research has highlighted the role of stakeholders in knowledge translation (KT) without paying adequate attention to the specifics of low-income countries. This paper identifies the roles, relations,and interactions among the key stakeholders involved in KT in Uganda and the challenges that they face.

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

On 29–30 September 2016 Results for All, an initiative of Results for America, partnered with Nesta’s Alliance for Useful Evidence to host Evidence Works 2016: A Global Forum for Government. This invitation-only forum took place at the Royal Society in London, UK, with the support of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Evidence Works 2016 convened senior officials from government, nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), and philanthropic organisations to engage in dialogue and exchange ideas about the policies and practices governments around the world are putting in place to promote the use of evidence and data in policymaking to improve outcomes for citizens and communities.

INVITATION: On 4 March 2016 the Africa Evidence Network and PAN Children are hosting a roadshow at the Human Sciences Research Council  (HSRC) offices in Cape Town. We have invited researchers, policy makers, parliamentary representatives and civil society. The event centres around the value of networks and building capacity in the use of evidence in decision-making across government. Ample time has been allocated to discussion and joining the networks. Please RSVP [email protected] (link sends e-mail) or [email protected] (link sends e-mail). Note that the event can also be attended via videoconferencing facilities at the HSRC's Durban and Pretoria offices, with a webstreaming facility to be set up. Final programme to be circulated by 26 February 2016.

On 1 and 2 June 2015 the University of Johannesburg's Building Capacity for Using Research Evidence (BCURE) project hosted a two-day workshop for partners interested in the use of research in decision-making in government. Presentations are attached for your interest.

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.

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.


Link: Econ3x3

Econ3x3 is an independent forum for critical public debate on unemployment and employment, income distri­bution and inclu­sive growth in South Africa. It publishes accessible research- based contribu­tions and expert commentaries. The forum encourages debate on an inte­grated and consistent policy response to unemployment, inequality and poverty and a stronger engagement between research and policy making. Econ3x3 invites contributions from economists and other social science researchers, policymakers and relevant experts.

In this issue of From Evidence to Action we focus on PAN: Children, a knowledge portal launched just over a year ago in a partnership between UNICEF and the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC). Our Feature traces the ideas and inspiration behind the portal, where we are after a year online and our plans to expand PAN: Children’s facilities and reach. As a learning network we have consulted widely with experts and other platforms and our Case Study highlights an expert retreat and exchange we held in May 2013 where we refined our strategic plans and grappled with issues around policy influencing and key institutional arrangements which we need to put in place. We shine our Spotlight On PAN: Children’s topical guides, the rationale behind them and how they can be updated by online users. Under Toolkits and guidelines we have sourced some useful documents on children’s participation, one of the priority areas for PAN: Children. Our Resources Section collates information about events, opportunities and related documents.

In this first issue of From Evidence to Action for 2012, we look at networks and, specifically, the role they play in changing policy. Our feature article, Getting the most out of policy networks, examines what a network actually is and what makes them effective. Through the example of the Regional Network on Equity in Health in Southern Africa, EQUINET, our case study further explores how to build networks and how they can be used to influence policy. We also find out more about the Policy Action Network, how to manage a Community of Practice. 

This annotated bibliography was prepared as a resource for people working on different dimensions of social power, social participation and social accountability in health. A universal health system values and ensures the right to health care, entitling all citizens in a country to access the same range of services according to their need and pay for these services according to their income. Achieving this calls for more than technical solutions. It demands public leadership and people’s power to assert social needs and interests , to influence the allocation of societal resources towards health needs and to challenge the distribution of power and resources that block this. Social power, participation and accountability are thus central concepts in building people centred health systems.