TICAD8 Side Event Explores Evidence-Based Policy Making to Address the Development Challenge in Africa


On Aug. 25, 2022, the JICA Ogata Sadako Research Institute for Peace and Development (the JICA Ogata Research Institute) and the African Union Development Agency-NEPAD (AUDA-NEPAD) co-hosted “Evidence-Based Policy Making (EBPM) to Address the Development Challenge in Africa,” an online event offered as part of the eighth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD 8). Initiated by Japan, TICAD is a summit-level international conference focused on Africa's development. Shimizutani Satoshi, executive senior research fellow, the JICA Ogata Research Institute, gave a presentation, in which he spoke about the pivotal role of evidence, particularly in Africa.

The event began with opening remarks by Makino Koji, director general of the JICA Ogata Research Institute. He emphasized the importance of EBPM for development. Specifically, it is important to evaluate the impacts of policies and projects through rigorous research methods including empirical analysis using econometrics. EBPM must play an even greater role in future policy making and project planning to support Africa to respond to a variety of development challenges including COVID-19, climate change, digitalization, and recent food and energy challenges. While there is great potential for EBPM to inform the African response to these challenges, success requires that we overcome financial, logistical, and bureaucratic impediments to implementing research-based policies and projects.

Makino Koji, director general of the JICA Ogata Research Institute

Supporting efforts to strengthen EBPM

Beginning with a discussion of the reality of EBPM at the JICA and other institutions, Shimizutani acknowledged that EBPM is not yet a widespread practice. He identified common misunderstandings and challenges to implementing EBPM, including the insufficient collection of control group data, limited resources and staff capacity, insufficient collaboration, and a lack of staff understanding of scientific evaluation.

Shimizutani also presented evidence from his research on the impact of boreholes in Zambia, agricultural extension in Kenya, and rural road improvement in Morocco. In Zambia, a JICA-funded project demonstrated that access to new boreholes improved productivity among adults by decreasing incidences of diarrhea but did not reduce the time burden of collecting water. In Kenya, research demonstrated that the Smallholder Horticulture Empowerment and Promotion (SHEP) program improved horticultural income by an average of 70 percent over two years and was effective for vulnerable groups and regardless of a household’s previous horticultural experience. In Morocco, a JICA-financed project explored the impact of improvements to 530km of rural roads, finding that the construction and rehabilitation of rural roads decreased incidences of early marriage among girls in secondary school and increased wage employment for boys. Overall, benefits of the project were more pronounced for high- and middle-income households than poor households.

Shimizutani Satoshi, executive senior research fellow, the JICA Ogata Research Institute

Shimizutani closed his presentation by summarizing his views on the importance of EBPM, arguing that EBPM creates new knowledge to advance science, improves policymaking by providing quantitative evidence on the impact of projects, and offers a mechanism for accountability to project stakeholders. Finally, Shimizutani emphasized the importance of evidence on the benefits of infrastructure projects, particularly in Africa where both evidence on and resources for infrastructure improvements are limited.

Social protection as a contributor to climate change adaptation

Next was a presentation by Zerihun Berhane, associate professor and head of the Center for African and Asian Studies, Addis Ababa University. Berhane discussed his evaluation of the Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP), the largest social protection program in Sub-Saharan Africa, reaching 8.3 million beneficiaries in food insecure households and districts in rural Ethiopia. Using data from the Ethiopian Rural Household Survey, a longitudinal household data set, Berhane investigated the conditions by which social protection can contribute to climate change adaptions. He found that in the short-term, PSNP contributes positively to climate change adaptations initiated by farmers at the household level. Over the longer term, his research demonstrated the need for PSNP to support the increase of farming income to enable households to reduce their vulnerability to climate-related shocks; increase demand for goods and services; and support the transformation of livelihoods in the region. Berhane closed his presentation with a summary of further research needed and a discussion of the importance of and challenges with implementing EBPM in Africa, including a lack of data and resources and low demand for evidence from policymakers.

Zerihun Berhane, associate professor and head of the Center for African and Asian Studies, Addis Ababa University

Challenges of EBPM in the context of the Democratic Republic of Congo

In the following presentation, Daniel Mukoko, professor, Faculté des Sciences Économiques, Université de Kinshasa, and former deputy prime minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), explored the challenge of implementing EBPM in a country such as the DRC, which has a volatile political system, weak governance structures, a paucity of data, and weak statistical capacity. The limited data collection that has occurred in the DRC since the 1990s has been largely driven and funded by donors such as UNICEF and USAID, though the accuracy of these surveys is impacted by the lack of population, agriculture, and business censuses and sample frames. Beginning in 2009, the DRC adopted a statistical capacity development strategy with funding from the World Bank; however, the strategy has not been followed by the appropriate implementation. Mukoko identified the lack of political commitment to data collection and the skewed use of data for political purposes as causes for this weak implementation. Mukoko argued for the need for more research in fragile states such as the DRC where security concerns weaken the political system. He stressed the importance of national ownership for support for projects funded by external donors and urged practitioners to give more attention to public consultation and debates as a way to build accountability.

Daniel Mukoko, professor, Faculté des Sciences Économiques, Université de Kinshasa

Role of Forecasting Models in Policy Making

Alize le Roux, senior researcher, Institute for Security Studies, began her discussion with a summary of the challenges to using forecasting in EBPM. These include the need to establish forecasting models as credible tools in the eyes of policymakers; the time and labor required to create forecasting models, particularly in countries where data collection, storage, and management is siloed within multiple government agencies; and the difficulties presenting models that challenge policymakers’ current thinking. Following her discussion of these challenges creating and making use of forecasting models, le Roux presented the African Futures Website, an open-access platform that bridges many of these challenges and provides forecasting evidence on each of Africa’s 54 countries as well as the continent’s regional economic zones. The website is accessible at the link below.

Alize le Roux, senior researcher, Institute for Security Studies

In the panel discussion that followed the presentations, moderated by Pamla Gopaul, senior program officer and lead coordinator of Policy Bridge Tank, AUDA-NEPAD, the presenters elaborated on the importance of infrastructure quality, the role of local researchers in EBPM, the need for greater support from policymakers to collect evidence on the impact of programs and policies, and approaches to overcoming challenges related to data collection.

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