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Making the case: using research-based evidence for policy advocacy. John Young, ODI, London [email protected] BOND Advocacy and Capacity Building Group Launch Event , Monday 2 nd June 2008. Overview. ODI and RAPID Evidence-based policy: 6 Lessons The changing role of CSO’s

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Making the case using research based evidence for policy advocacy

Making the case: using research-based evidence for policy advocacy

John Young, ODI, London

[email protected]

BOND Advocacy and Capacity Building Group Launch Event , Monday 2nd June 2008

Overview advocacy

  • ODI and RAPID

  • Evidence-based policy: 6 Lessons

  • The changing role of CSO’s

  • Challenges and opportunities

  • An example

  • Evidence-based policy in development network

  • Conclusions

  • Sources of further information

Odi rapid
ODI & RAPID advocacy

  • ODI

    • UK’s leading Development Think Tank

    • c.80 researchers

    • Research, advice and public affairs on development policy


    • Focuses on policy processes

    • Research, advice, public affairs + capacity development

    • Works with producers, users and intermediaries

1 policy processes are complex

Commission research advocacy

Analyse the results

Choose the best option

Establish the policy

Implement the policy


1. Policy processes are complex

Identify the problem

1 policy processes are complex1

Cabinet advocacy


Policy Formulation






Civil Society


Monitoring and Evaluation

Policy Implementation

Private Sector

1. Policy processes are complex

2 research is one factor
2. Research is one factor advocacy

Kate Bird et al, Fracture Points in Social Policies for Chronic Poverty Reduction, ODI WP242, 2004 (

3 research is important
3. Research is important advocacy

“The results of household disease surveys informed processes of health service reform which contributed to a 43 and 46 per cent reduction in infant mortality between 2000 and 2003 in two districts in rural Tanzania.”

TEHIP Project, Tanzania:

4 needs a systematic approach

The advocacypolitical context – political and economic structures and processes, culture, institutional pressures, incremental vs radical change etc.

The links between policy

and research communities – networks, relationships, power, competing discourses, trust, knowledge etc.

4. Needs a systematic approach

External Influences

Socio-economic and cultural influences,

donor policies etc

The evidence – credibility, the degree it challenges received wisdom, research approaches and methodology, simplicity of the message, how it is packaged etc

4 needs a systematic approach1
4. Needs a systematic approach advocacy

  • Get to know the policymakers.

  • Identify friends and foes.

  • Prepare for policy opportunities.

  • Look out for policy windows.

  • Work with them – seek commissions

  • Strategic opportunism – prepare for known events + resources for others

  • Who are the policymakers?

  • Is there demand for ideas?

  • What is the policy process?

  • Establish credibility

  • Provide practical solutions

  • Establish legitimacy.

  • Present clear options

  • Use familiar narratives.

  • Build a reputation

  • Action-research

  • Pilot projects to generate legitimacy

  • Good communication

  • What is the current theory?

  • What are the narratives?

  • How divergent is it?

  • Get to know the others

  • Work through existing networks.

  • Build coalitions.

  • Build new policy networks.

  • Build partnerships.

  • Identify key networkers, mavens and salesmen.

  • Use informal contacts

  • Who are the stakeholders?

  • What networks exist?

  • Who are the connectors, mavens and salesmen?

5 needs additional skills
5. Needs additional skills advocacy





6 there are good tools
6. There are good tools advocacy

Overarching Tools

- The RAPID Framework

- Using the Framework

- The Entrepreneurship Questionnaire

Context Assessment Tools

- Stakeholder Analysis

- Forcefield Analysis

- Writeshops

- Policy Mapping

- Political Context Mapping

Communication Tools

- Communications Strategy

- SWOT analysis

- Message Design

- Making use of the media

Research Tools

- Case Studies

- Episode Studies

- Surveys

- Bibliometric Analysis

- Focus Group Discussion

Policy Influence Tools

- Influence Mapping & Power Mapping

- Lobbying and Advocacy

- Campaigning: A Simple Guide

- Competency self-assessment

The changing role of csos
The (changing) role of CSOs advocacy

  • Is huge: Worth $12bn globally,reach 20% of world’s poor, provide 40% health & education services in SSA.

  • Is changing: service provision → policy engagement.

  • Can be very effective: Globally, eg Jubilee 2000; locally eg Animal Health in Kenya,

  • Is uncomfortable:

    • with governments: lack of trust

    • with donors: emphasis on GBS & policy

    • with academics/policy advisers: weak evidence

Smeru uct in indonesia
SMERU & UCT in Indonesia advocacy

  • Fuel subsidy increasingly recognised as regressive and not benefiting the poor.

  • Became financially unsustainable in 2005.

  • Gvt plan to  subsidy  UCT to poor.

  • Huge programme. Little impact.

  • What to do?

Smeru uct in indonesia1
SMERU & UCT in Indonesia advocacy

  • Small independent study by SMERU in 2005 identified opportunity for  benefit through CCT focusing on health, education & nutrition + Improved targeting.

  • Commissioned by BAPPENAS to do larger feasibility study.

  • Series of meetings & dialogues.

  • Adopted as policy and operationalised in 2007

Smeru uct in indonesia2
SMERU & UCT in Indonesia advocacy

  • Challenges:

    • Political leverage

    • Lack of tools to understand political context

    • Lack of lobbying skills & opportunities

    • Lack of resources

    • Associated with donors

  • Success Factors:

    • Credibility of SMERU

    • Links with government and civil society organisations

    • Quality of research

    • Impartiality

    • Effective communication of results

Rapid support to csos
RAPID support to CSOs advocacy

  • Run workshops, seminars and courses

  • Established the evidence-based policy in development network

  • A “community of practice” to:

    • Learn how research-based evidence can contribute to better policy and practice.

    • Do it themselves.

    • Help others to do it


Some members
Some members advocacy

  • Africa Energy Policy Research Network: a network to promote pro-poor energy policies.

  • Center for the Implementation of Public Policies promoting Equity and Growth: works on Education, Fiscal Policy, Health, Transparency and Justice an Argentina.

  • Unnayan Onneshan: works on pro-poor agricultural and trade policies in Bangladesh.

  • International Budget Project: works to promote budget transparency and accountability

Ebpdn website
ebpdn website advocacy

Conclusions advocacy

  • CSOs are well placed to influence policy with research-based evidence.

  • To do it effectively they need to:

    • Understand the political context

    • Use a wholistic approach

    • Establish the right relationships with all stakeholders

    • Collect the right sort of evidence

    • Engage appropriately with the right policy processes

    • Communicate effectively

Further information
Further Information advocacy



  • Publications

  • Case Studies

  • Workshops and Seminars

  • Tools and Toolkits

    ebpdn –

    Contact: [email protected]