Happy 16th Anniversary PEP

October 1, 2018

PEP celebrates 16 years of building capacity for local development solutions

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October 1, 2018 marks 16 years since PEP was established to build and promote the expertise of developing country researchers with the aim of informing local development policies.

During this time, PEP has supported 988 researchers (48% women) in 64 developing countries to produce 314 policy analysis studies. By supporting capacity building not only for high quality research but also policy outreach, PEP has helped more than a third of funded projects directly inform policy decisions around the world. 

PEP’s policy impact so far is remarkable and something to be proud of, particularly considering the complexity of policy processes,” said Professor Jane Mariara, Executive Director of PEP, “However, research-based evidence remains underused by policymakers. The current work of PEP and the researchers we support is therefore vital to create and expand lasting research-policy linkages.”

When PEP was first established in 2002, the organisation’s mission was to “build the capacity and expertise of local researchers in developing countries in applying cutting-edge methods to analyse policy issues related to poverty and social and economic development in their home countries.” As such, PEP developed a unique Grant Plus support program that provides research teams with mentoring, training, and evaluation, as well as funding. 

In 2018, scientific training was extended to include all members of funded research teams thanks to PEP’s new online training courses. Additionally, these online courses were opened to the general public for the first time, further expanding the number of researchers who benefit from the expertise of PEP instructors. Previously, only one or two members of each team benefitted from direct training during the PEP Annual Conference. Team members who attended the 2018 Annual Conference received additional training.

Over the past two years, PEP has also significantly expanded the research communications training and policy outreach mentoring components of its support program. In particular, PEP has been developing tools and initiatives to encourage greater participation of local researchers in national and international development policy debates. Innovations include the establishment of the Policy Outreach Committee as well as policy engagement and research communications training workshops. 

From the beginning of each project, PEP helps researchers understand the policy context of their work and connect with strategic stakeholders. Prof Mariara explained: “PEP plays a key role in promoting the researchers’ policy analysis expertise at home, and in encouraging evidence-based decision making – both of which lead to increased research uptake."

PEP recognises that for local researchers to contribute effectively to policy debates in their home countries and regions, capacity building is only part of the solution. PEP seeks to provide ongoing support and promotion to senior PEP researchers, notably through its Research Fellows program, launched last year. 

A few ways that PEP research has already informed policy

  • The Federal Government of Nigeria implemented a social security cash transfer scheme for vulnerable populations, based directly on a PEP team’s pilot project. 
  • Findings from a PEP research team in Mongolia proved that an employment program was effective. Rather than ending the program as planned, the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of committed to the policy.
  • In the Central African Republic, a team’s recommendations on how to best use foreign investment for growth were included in the Ministry of Finance and Budget Action Plan for 2015-16.
  • Following the wide dissemination a PEP research team’s findings, eligibility requirements for social assistance in Macedonia were changed to no longer consider remittances as revenue. 

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