EVIDENCE BASED POLICY : IMPORTANCE AND ISSUES
WHAT IS EBP?
o Evidence Based Policy is adopted in UK by New labor government from 1997 includes lessons and approaches which are valuable to developing countries.
o Useful for the progressive policy makers and advisors of public sectors in developing countries
DEFINITION OF EBP
o EBP is an approach that helps people make well informed decisions about policies, programs and projects by putting best available evidence from research at the heart of policy development and implementation (Davies : 2004)
o A set of methods which informs about policy processes, rather than one which aims the eventual goals, includes systematic evidence and rational analysis.
o It is a shift away from opinion based policies to more rigorous and rational approach that gathers, critically appraises and uses high quality research evidence to inform policy making and professional practice.
DYNAMICS OF EBP
WHAT EVIDENCE IS USED?
o Research based
o Any systematic approach to increase the stock of knowledge (OECD,1981)
o Data collected through systematic approach
o Critical investigation, evaluation, theory building, data collection, analysis, and codification related to development policy and practice.
o Action research – self reflection by practitioners oriented towards the enhancement of direct practice.
o Not all forms of evidence share equal importance, relevance, weighting
o Hierarchical judgments of what evidence to use, where and how- often deeply embedded in assumptions regarding validity and power.
o Using only empirical data and hard evidence is narrow
o Tacit forms of knowledge, practice-based wisdom, the voices of ordinary citizens are equally useful
o EBP is thus to take wide breadth of sources of research, not just hard evidence
WHAT SHOULD GOVERNMENT CONSIDER?
(Court, Hoveland, Young 2005, Shaxson 2005)
o Accuracy – Is the evidence correctly describing?
o Objectivity- Quality of approach to generate evidence and objectiveness of the source, extent of contestation of evidence
o Credibility- Reliability of the evidence, dependability for monitoring, evaluation and impact assessment.
o Generalisability – Extensive information, not just selective cases and pilots
o Relevance – Timing, topicality and policy implication of evidence
o Availability – Existence of good evidence
o Rootedness – Grounded in reality
o Practicalities – access to evidence in a useful form to policy makers, and feasibility and affordability of research in policy making
o Evidence is incorporated into policymaking by
n Different stages of policy processes
o Agenda setting
o Implementation and
n Different types of evidences are required to different parts of the policy process
n Time considerations influences mechanisms to mobilize evidence
ISSUE IN USE OF EVIDENCE (Pollard and Court 2005)
Different evidence issues
Awareness and priority given to an issue
Identify (new)problem, evidence building for its magnitude to realize its importance, credibility of evidence, communication of evidence
Determination of policy options,
Selection of preferred option
Detailing of understanding of specific situations and different options, making informed decisions about policy and implementation, linking activity with outcomes, asses cost and impact scale, quantity and credibility of evidence is important
Actual practical activities
Focus on operational evidence to improve effectiveness of initiative, analytical work, systematic learning around technical skills, expert knowledge & practical experience, Action research, pilot project, evidence should be practically relevant across different contexts
Monitoring and assessing process, impact of an intervention
Develop monitoring mechanism, Comprehensive evaluation procedure to determine effectiveness of the policy for future decision making, Objective evidence is thorough and relevant and its successful communication into policy process
IMPLICATIONS OF EBP IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
o Have potential to show greater impact on socio-economic outcomes
o Less established in developing countries than in developed countries
o Its better use in policy and practice reduce poverty and improve economic performance
o Evidence improves, lack of evidence devastates
o EBP use in Tanzania health policy helped reduce 40% of IMR bt. 2000-2003 in two pilot districts
o Its ignorance deepened HIV-AIDS in some developing countries regarding its causes and prevention
EBP TRANSLATION – DEVELOPING COUNTRY CONTEXT
o To consider the diversity of cultures, economic and political contexts make valid generalizations difficult
KEY DIFFERENCES IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES (Court 2005)
o Weaker economics and scarcer resources
o Difficult political environments – Limited political freedoms, weak public accountability systems, Political volatility lead to negative impact of policy also
o Problems with accountability, participation, corruption and lack of incentives/capacity to draw in evidence in policy implementation
o Academic freedom, media freedom, strength of civil society matter for effective EBP
o Limited capacity to generate rigorous evidence
o Conflict – civil wars and low intensity conflicts
o Lack of performance management
o Lack of indicators at political level monitoring service provision
o Lack of institutional mechanism
o Lack of ongoing evaluation
o All factors effect supply and demand side of evidence based policy
o Demand for greater incentive to improve policy and performance and to improve accountability
o More open entry points into policy making and fewer constraints on communication are available in democratic contexts which is required. Local technical expertise often contribute to improve political frameworks within the context of a democratic polity. Tanzania is other good example.