We need to talk about evidence

Flybe planeCommsConsult’s Director, Megan Lloyd-Laney, has her bags packed and will be travelling to Kenya this week – abandoning the usual train journey ‘up country’ across the picturesque but vulnerable Dawlish stretch of track and choosing instead the short plane hop from Newquay airport because of this week’s ‘weather challenges’! She will cross paths with the team returning from the Civil Registration and Vital Statistics conference in Ottawa, who did an amazing job generating visibility and debate around this important topic (did you know that 1.1 billion people across the globe are unable to prove their legal identity? No, neither did we before we took on this project – listen to an amazing group of people dedicated to doing something about making visible the invisible).

Megan will join more than 100 of Africa’s growing community of policymakers, practitioners and scholars interested in evidence-informed policymaking for the African Evidence Informed Policymaking Forum in Nairobi March 6th and 7th. The forum has been organised by one of our favourite clients the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the Think Tank Initiative (TTI) and the Mastercard Foundation. Its aim is to reflect on the current evidence landscape in Africa, learn lessons from multiple experiences, and use them to guide future interventions in this growing sector.

Two things that excite us most about the forum (which we need to keep in mind as we design and negotiate Plans A, B and C to get out of the snow-bound, and transport-paralysed part of the UK that is Cornwall), are the diversity of representation and focus on conversation over the two days. So, the opening session brings together a panel from Ghana, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and the USA who are drawn from think tanks, government, funding agencies and the continent’s first African institution dedicated to building the capacity of African Parliaments. No papers; no presentations; no monologues: just a conversation facilitated by a prominent Kenyan journalist.

The potential of bringing these often separate worlds together, is enormous. And exciting.

These ‘facilitated conversations’ are an ongoing feature of the Think Tank Initiative programme, which has provided core funding for 43 southern think tanks in 20 countries over the last 10 years. We’re proud to have been partners with the African Think Tanks through the TTI Policy Engagement and Communications programme, and so are particularly delighted to be back in contact with old colleagues and friends.

We are helping to raise the visibility of the conference and generate engagement with others who cannot be here, through social media, daily blogs on the dedicated conference website and app. Join the conversation using #AfricaEvidence!

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