October 1, 2020 – PEP celebrates 18 years of driving sustainable development in the Global South by ensuring that policy decisions are informed by high-quality, locally-generated evidence.
"PEP has a lot to celebrate and should be proud," said Professor Jane Mariara, Executive Director of PEP. “It continues to evolve to produce better policy analysis and increase research uptake.”
Since its establishment in 2002, PEP has now supported over 1100 researchers in 64 developing countries. PEP has always pioneered building the capacity of researchers to produce high-quality, policy-engaged evidence, and it is effective.
- Evidence from 25% of projects directly informs policy decisions.
- Evidence from 53% of projects is used in policy debates.
Collaborative research for policy uptake
Looking to further improve research uptake, the nature and extent of PEP support grew to encompass policymakers and their advisors. Since last year, PEP has launched four programmes of coproduced research, wherein teams are composed of researchers and government officers:
- Gender-sensitive Analysis on Entrepreneurship and Financial Inclusion, and Rural Employment in Africa (2019-21)
- Impact Evaluation Mentoring for Governments in East and West Africa (2019-21)
- Social and Economic Recovery and Response from Covid-19 (2020-22)
- Climate Change in Africa: Impacts and Responses for Women and Girls (2020-23)
As Prof. Mariara explains: "Despite PEP teams producing timely, relevant and contextualized 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 also aim to foster a culture of evidence use in the policymaking processes within government institutions. Chair of the PEP Board of Directors, Dr. Fred Carden, said: “These initiatives are on track to establishing a new benchmark for policy-engaged research.”
Fourteen teams from the first cohort of PEP coproducers have completed their research and will present their findings and policy recommendations at the 2020 PEP Annual Conference.
A hub of expertise
Papers based on 12 PEP projects have been or will be published in high-ranking peer-reviewed scientific journals this year. The publication of these papers based on PEP projects highlights the high quality of PEP research. Three of the articles have been selected by journals that are recognized as "internationally excellent". A further eight have been selected by journals that are "internationally recognized", according to the Research Excellence Framework (REF).
Now, more than 50% of PEP projects result in published articles, the majority—over 70%—in high-ranking journals. Furthermore, 47% of the published articles are by research teams based in low-income economies and fragile or conflict-affected states. This is particularly notable as the global development dialogue is still dominated by voices from North America and Western Europe, with only around 2% of global scientific publications coming from Africa.
As well as underlining the quality of the research, publication in international journals helps raise the profile of PEP grantees and their locally-based perspectives on development challenges.
This year, UNICEF selected PEP to provide research quality assurance services. Prof. Mariara commented: "This is an important development for PEP as the organization moves beyond providing capacity building. It also attests to the quality of PEP's work globally.”
UNICEF also commissioned PEP to carry out a study estimating the impact of fuel subsidy reform on household poverty in Sudan. "PEP's selection underlines how the organization is increasingly recognized as a source of world-class expertise, drawn from the Global South, on the economic analysis of a wide variety of development challenges," said John Cockburn, PEP’s Scientific Advisor.
“PEP has established itself as a hub of expertise, innovation, and knowledge in research for development policy analysis as well as capacity building,” said Prof. Mariara.
A joint effort
Prof. Mariara recognizes the combined effort it has taken to make PEP the organization it is today. She said: “We sincerely thank our donors, partners, stakeholders and collaborators, past and present, for their enormous contribution to PEP’s development.”
In addition to ongoing support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Global Affairs Canada awarded funding to PEP in 2020 for the three-year Climate Change in Africa initiative.
“I also thank the PEP Board of Directors, management, staff, resource persons, and researchers for continuing to build this outstanding organization,” said Prof. Mariara.
“Together, we are making a difference, and I look forward to seeing our next achievements as we work towards building a better world,” said Dr. Carden.
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