|Getting the frame right and looking beyond evidence-based policymaking|
|Monday, 10 December 2012 15:10|
Two central themes dominated a recent symposium held by the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS). The Poverty of Politics Research and Pro-Poor Policymaking symposium was held in November at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa.
The first theme was that of "framing" key messages. This is a vital issue from DRUSSA`s perspective, since one of our aims is, in fact, to frame the Research Uptake discourse for our various audiences and to contribute to mainstreaming this discourse more widely. DRUSSA works with Sub-Saharan universities to develop capacity, both at institutional and individual level, to carry out Research Uptake activities.
She said many communications efforts on social issues failed because a frame is not established to help people understand an old issue in a new way. Very often, communicators rely on heightening the emotional power of a message. An emotional appeal will not work if the basic framing is flawed. Over and above tapping into people`s emotions, the message should provide a new conceptual understanding of an issue, so that they can appreciate the big picture and the dynamics at work in a way they didn`t before.
The second big theme at the symposium was the discourse around evidence-based policymaking (EBP) that ensued from the presentation given by PLAAS Director Prof Andries du Toit on his much-discussed paper, "The politics of poverty research and pro-poor policy making: Learning from the practice of policy dialogue".
Over the past several years, pressure on the development community has increased to demonstrate the impacts of funded initiatives, as have international funders` expectations for policies to be rooted in scientific evidence. In the light of this current reality, Du Toit`s paper questions some of the assumptions underlying evidence-based policymaking, saying the extent to which policymaking can be based on evidence that is clear and certain is often overstated and that other factors such as politics, ideology and sociopolitical realities have to be taken into account in the process. Du Toit argues that while it is laudable to try to ensure that pro-poor policies and initiatives are based on good scientific evidence, the approach belies underlying complexities.