PEP is leading a new initiative for Fostering Autonomous Local Impact Evaluations for Policymaking (FALIEP) in East and West Africa. This initiative aims to increase the demand for and supply of locally led, high-quality Impact Evaluation (IE) research for policymaking.
Coordinated by PEP’s Experimental Research group, this initiative will see PEP experts and alumni co-producing the research with government institutions to strengthen in-country capacity for commissioning Randomized Control Trial (RCT) IEs and using the results to inform policy decisions.
FALIEP complements the Strengthening Impact Evaluation Capacities for Development (SIECD) initiative, which was launched at the start of October.
Under this initiative, representatives of local or national governments (government officers) will set out the research agenda to undertake an RCT IE in their country.
Teams of in-country PEP alumni, government officers, and IE experts (appointed by PEP) will carry out the impact evaluation to provide valuable evidence for policymaking while advancing institutional and researcher capacities for experimental research.
In parallel to the impact evaluations, this initiative will include an in-depth analysis to better understand how to foster more locally-led IEs in each country. This will include an analysis of current and potential demand for IEs, identification of obstacles to their local leadership, and implementation of complementary activities to address some or all these obstacles.
While the whole set of complementary activities will depend on the demand and obstacles analysis, some key activities are already planned. On the demand side, participating and invited government officers will benefit from training in RCTs (for non-researchers), using evidence to inform policymaking, and policy engagement and communication.
On the supply side, training and mentoring in IE, policy engagement and communications will be extended to other members of participating research institutions. As the senior IE experts leading each team have previously received intensive training, they will receive customized mentorship from PEP experts to explore new opportunities for locally-led IEs.
Addressing an urgent need
Evidence-based policymaking is essential to foster growth and achieve long-term development. Despite recent increases in sound IEs carried out in Africa, demand from governments for experimental research is low.
The low levels of demand are attributed to the organizational culture within government institutions where the capacity to commission research to inform decision making is not embedded. Institutionalizing evidence-informed decision making must start from the inside.
Furthermore, local capacity remains insufficient to autonomously produce IEs and inform sound and sustainable development policies. This lack of capacity is not limited to the scientific aspects of IE, but also include the “soft” skills such as policy engagement and communications that are required to successfully attract and implement locally-led IEs. Local IE capacity is particularly important as researchers based in the study country are more familiar with the local context, better able to monitor all the steps of an IE, and develop closer ties with policymakers before, during and after the evaluation.
A base of better-trained and policy-engaged researchers, combined with increased government enthusiasm for IEs, should lead to better quality public policies for development in the target countries.