October 1, 2019 – PEP celebrates 17 years of building and promoting the expertise of developing country researchers to inform local policies for inclusive, sustainable development.
“PEP has a lot to celebrate and should be proud,” says Professor Jane Mariara, Executive Director of PEP. “It has established itself as a hub of expertise, innovation, and knowledge in capacity building and research for development policy analysis.”
PEP has evolved continually since its establishment in 2002. Each innovation has helped PEP better achieve its mission to cultivate locally-generated, high-quality, policy-engaged and relevant evidence to inform development policy.
To foster a culture of evidence use in policymaking
While PEP has always pioneered the capacity building of researchers, the nature and extent of this support has recently grown to encompass policymakers and their advisors. In 2019 and for the first time in PEP’s history, two programmes that directly involve government officers within the project teams got underway:
- Impact Evaluation Mentoring for Governments in East and West Africa
- Gender-sensitive Analysis on Entrepreneurship and Financial Inclusion,
and Rural Employment in Africa.
As well as financing for their projects, PEP research teams receive intensive training, continual mentoring, access to documentation and analytical tools, and international peer-review from leading scientific experts in relevant fields and policy experts in their region. This “Grant Plus” support has led to a third of PEP projects since 2012 having documented evidence of influence on policy decisions at home; see PEP Impact Stories.
As Prof. Mariara, explains: “Despite PEP teams producing timely, relevant and contextualised empirical evidence, the complexity of policy processes often prevents decision-makers from using it directly.” By integrating government officers into the project teams, PEP is going beyond supporting policy-oriented evidence generation. These new programmes aim to also foster a culture of evidence use in the policymaking processes within government institutions.
Going further for equality
The nature of policy analysis is also evolving. For many years PEP has strived to ensure gender-balanced research teams—half of PEP-supported researchers are women—and encouraged gender analysis within projects. Beyond gender parity in team composition, teams are encouraged and support to take gender issues and disparities into account in all policy analysis. Recently, PEP offered researchers intensive training from gender analysis specialists and is currently developing a full-semester graduate online course on gender analysis. By requiring project teams to produce gender-sensitive research, PEP is supporting gender-sensitive policymaking as a step towards gender equality.
A team effort
Prof. Mariara recognises the combined effort it has taken to make PEP the organization it is today. She said: “We sincerely thank our donors and collaborators, past and present, for their enormous contribution to PEP’s growth.”
Indeed, Canada’s IDRC has supported PEP from the very beginning—see PEP’s history—and renewed this support in 2019 with the extension of the PAGE II initiative to include a third round. UK Aid continues to support the first two rounds of PAGE II and a new collaboration with the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation is expanding PEP’s support and capacity building for impact evaluations. Beyond the initial funding awarded in 2018, in 2019 the Hewlett Foundation extended the project to support more projects.
The support of PEP’s donors was essential to the success of this year’s international capacity building events: the 2019 PEP Annual Conference (in Cape Town, South Africa) and the 2019 PEP Special General Meeting (in Saly, Senegal). Combined, these events brought together more than 200 researchers, government officers, practitioners, international experts, representatives of donor and international organizations, and policy actors. The participants benefitted from intensive training, peer review, networking and discussions on how policy analysis can be better integrated into policy design.
“I also thank the PEP Board of Directors, staff, resource persons, and researchers for continuing to build this outstanding organization,” said Prof. Mariara. Three members of the PEP Board of Directors will complete their mandates at the end of this year. As founding members of the PEP Board of Directors, Mustapha Nabli (Board Chair), Pramila Krishnan and Marie-Claude Martin have made incredible contributions to the institutional development of PEP. “We are deeply grateful to the outgoing board members for their governance, leadership and support,” said Prof. Mariara, “We look forward to continuing to build upon the strong foundations they have laid with the remaining board members and as we welcome three new board members next year.”
Reflecting on PEP’s 17th anniversary, Prof. Mariara said: “We celebrate our successes while continuing to work together to take PEP to even greater heights in the future.”