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Making the case: using research-based evidence for policy advocacy. John Young, ODI, London 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

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

  • 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
    • 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

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



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

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

3 research is important
3. Research is important

“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 political 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
  • 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





6 there are good tools
6. There are good tools

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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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



  • Publications
  • Case Studies
  • Workshops and Seminars
  • Tools and Toolkits

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