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New initiative to advance equitable and evidence-informed policymaking in Africa in support of the Sustainable Development Goals

IDRC, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH are joining hands in a new partnership in Africa to advance equitable and inclusive evidence-informed policymaking to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
A group listens to a gentleman speak at an in-person workshop.
West Africa Regional Hub Lead Dr. Frejus Thoto speaks during an in-person workshop in Kigali in August 2023.

Learning together to advance Evidence and Equity in Policymaking to achieve the SDGs (LEEPS), a new CAD9.2-million partnership, aims to accelerate the use of evidence to advance equitable and gender-transformative policies and solutions for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The solutions will be oriented toward diverse topics, including reproductive health and the transition to low-carbon economies in low- and middle- income countries (LMICs) in sub-Saharan Africa.  

Building on the accomplishments of the Partnership for Evidence and Equity in Responsive Social Systems (PEERSS), which supported research teams in 13 countries to help policymakers access and use high-quality evidence in their decision-making, LEEPS will  strengthen knowledge translation ecosystems in Africa and promote the institutionalization of evidence-informed policymaking (EIP), especially in sub-Saharan Africa. 

Two African regional hubs have been selected to play a key role in strengthening the knowledge ecosystem and evidence uptake. The West Africa Regional Hub is led by the African Centre for Equitable Development (ACED), and the East Africa Regional Hub is co-led by the Centre for Rapid Evidence Synthesis (ACRES) and the African Institute for Policy Development (AFIDEP).  

This knowledge use infrastructure will provide an Africa-based platform for learning and exchange, as well as sustained networks contributing to a community of practice and sharing of good examples of South-South synergy and collaboration.    

Partners see great potential for LEEPS  

According to Montasser Kamal, IDRC’s director of Global Health, “This is a very timely moment to work with leaders in Africa on a long-term vision for the institutionalization of evidence-informed policymaking. Complex development challenges require work across sectors and disciplines to achieve the SDGs at the country level in sub-Saharan Africa. LEEPS represents a boost to the infrastructure for knowledge translation and evidence-informed policymaking in the region.” 

Dina Fakoussa, senior project manager, Policy Engagement and Partnerships at Robert Bosch Stiftung, commented on their investment in LEEPS, “It stems from a firm belief that only with solid scientific evidence can we realize policies that serve societies and their lasting well-being. It is indeed a great pleasure for us to partner with such distinguished and experienced players such as the Hewlett Foundation and IDRC on an exciting mission that is core to all three sides. West Africa is a particular target of our work on the African continent as there is still a lot of unexplored potential.”  

The regional hubs will provide several English- and French-language speaking countries in Africa with centres of excellence for capacity building in knowledge translation and EIP. The hubs will develop and implement approaches and tools to strengthen knowledge transfer capacities and support the institutionalization of EIP in partner countries. The hubs will ensure that gender, equity, diversity and inclusion considerations are integral to efforts aimed at institutionalizing the use of evidence in policymaking.

Leaders of the regional hubs have strong aspirations for LEEPS  

The enthusiasm IDRC expresses for LEEPS is echoed by the organizations that lead the regional hubs.

“We are excited about this new partnership. The focus on knowledge translation and elevating evidence-informed policymaking is a critical stride toward filling a significant gap in how knowledge systems contribute to more equitable development, especially in Francophone Africa. This initiative reflects an important step in mobilizing diverse stakeholders and harnessing collective efforts to advance this cause.” said Dr. Fréjus Thoto, the executive director of ACED and lead of the West Africa Regional Hub.

“We are embarking on an innovative initiative that transcends borders. There is a real opportunity here for lasting change in how evidence is consumed by decision-makers. LEEPS brings together several impactful approaches, and we are excited to partner with the ever supportive and dedicated Hewlett Foundation and IDRC in this venture. Highly collaborative, designed to respond to local needs and focused on empowering young and local capacities, we are excited about this journey of regional cooperation and collective impact,” commented Dr. Rhona Mijumbi-Deve, executive director of ACRES, one of the co-leading organizations of the East Africa Regional Hub.  

Members of the ACRES-led partner of the Anglophone LEEPS Hub pose in front of a LEEPS sign.
Members of the ACRES-led partner of the Anglophone hub: Olive Mbekwani-Kalata, Shaban Sonda, Ismael Kawooya, Rhona Mijumbi-Deve, Pastan Lusiba, Firmaye Bogale and Elias Phiri.

Rose Oronje, PhD, country director for Kenya at AFIDEP noted on behalf of the East Africa Regional Hub, “I am so excited about the opportunity to co-lead the LEEPS Anglophone Africa Learning Hub. LEEPS is an innovative initiative focusing on two critical levers of development (evidence and gender equity) to accelerate Africa’s progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. The Hub will co-create stronger national and regional evidence-informed policymaking (EIP) ecosystems, as well as strengthen individual organizations driving EIP in African countries. Initially focussing on reproductive health and clean energy, our long-term vision is that the LEEPS Hub will expand knowledge use for decision-making in all development sectors in sub-Saharan Africa.” 

A group from AFIDEP discuss their consortium’s activities at a workshop.
Members of the AFIDEP-led Consortium, drawn from AFIDEP, the African Research and Impact Network, the Africa Institute for Health Policy and Health Systems and Makerere University’s School of Women and Gender Studies, discuss consortium activities.

Coordinating organization to support this new partnership   

As the LEEPS coordinating organization, R4D (Results for Development) will support links between the community of practice in EIP at local, regional and global levels. It will also document and synthesize progress and experiences, sharing them within the partnership and more widely for external communication and mutual learning.

“We are excited to be a part of this important initiative to strengthen the use of evidence in policy and practice in Africa and to support peer learning, knowledge sharing and exchange that helps to accelerate country progress towards the SDGs,” said Abeba Taddese, senior director and practice lead, Evidence for Decision Making at R4D.