Better utilization of research and evidence in development policy and practice can have a dramatic impact. For example, household disease surveys in rural Tanzania informed health service reforms which contributed to a 28% reduction in infant mortality in two years. On the other hand, the HIV/AIDS crisis has deepened in some countries as governments fail to implement effective prevention and mitigation programmes despite clear evidence how to prevent it spreading. Although evidence clearly matters, there is no systematic understanding of when, how and why evidence informs policy.
This lunch-time meeting series organised by ODI's Research and Policy in Development (RAPID) programme provided an opportunity for researchers, policy makers and intermediaries in the UK to discuss how and why evidence informs policy. Speakers included politicians, bureaucrats, researchers, NGO activists and practitioners from UK government and non-government organisations. They talked about how the political and institutional context influences development policy makers, what sort of evidence they want and need, how research institutes can manage and use their knowledge more effectively, how NGO campaigns and Think Tanks achieve policy influence, and what makes a good policy entrepreneur.