South Asia Training of Trainers on Bridging Research and Policy
Naved Chowdhury - ODI
The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and CUTS International jointly organised a Training of Trainers Workshop on “Bridging Research and Policy” between 17th to 21st September 2007 in Shimla, India. The workshop was organised under the auspices of the Civil Society Partnership Programme (CSPP), being coordinated by ODI. This training workshop was targeted at senior/middle level representatives from select Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) of South Asia. Leading civil society organisation with experience and understanding on evidence-based research for policy advocacy from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal participated in this workshop.
Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in South Asia have been engaged quite actively in influencing development policy-making and implementation. The methodologies adapted by CSOs in influencing policies in the region have been divergent. This emerged from the discussions on participants’ perceptions of the role played by civil society in evidence-based research for influencing developmental policy processes in their respective countries. Examples were provided how CSOs employed various methodologies and approaches for influencing policy decisions.
Participants were familiarised with certain tools and techniques for bridging the gap between research (evidence gathering) and policy (process influencing) – and sensitised on how such tools would be applicable in specific cases (examples) that were cited by the participants. Broadly, the tools that were discussed, included – context assessment tools, strategy devising tools, advocacy tools and communication tools. There was consensus that these tools would be quite useful in the region and that some of them were already being used ad hoc. So, there is a need for a more systematic approach to using such tools. It was resolved that the tools elucidated in the workshop would be contextualised (with appropriate illustrations) and collated into a ‘Training Manual’ – to be used for furthering the agenda in each of the counties more extensively. The manual would be a joint publication of the civil society representatives who were present in the workshop and finalised following a participatory process. A ‘South Asia’ network would also be constituted as a part of the ‘Evidence Based Policy for Development Network’ (www.ebpdn.org), which would spearhead the dissemination and outreach of the approach of evidence based policy advocacy using the tools and methodologies discussed in the workshop.