Data Repository and Advocacy for Policy (DARAP) project, set up to promote the access and effective use of data and knowledge products to influence policy-making processes and outcomes, has been launched.
Funded by the Open Society Economic Justice Programme, and based at the Measurement, Learning and Evaluation (MLE) Unit at the Institute of Statistical Social and Economic Research (ISSER), University of Ghana, DARAP is expected to contribute to evidence-led policy-making through data management services and capacity-building in the use and interpretation of research data, working in collaboration with civil society organisations (CSOs) and academics.
Speaking at the maiden stakeholder’s forum of the DARAP project, the Project Coordinator, Dr. Fred Dzanku, said the objectives of the initiative was to establish a data repository; build the capacity of NGOs, CSOs, and researchers to share data, research and information for policy advocacy and influence; and utilise the data repository and existing research outputs to create new knowledge products as input for policy advocacy and influence.
“We all know that data is important for decision-making. That’s why the government spends a lot of money on census, and researchers use the data for analysis to generate evidence. This evidence is supposed to inform both public and private policy. So, this project is basically to bridge that gap between researchers and those who do policy advocacy and those who actually make the policy and implement the policy,” Dr. Dzanku said.
Effectively bridging the gap between researchers and policy advocates and makers, according to him, would lead to the generation of evidence-based policies and the implementation of same for the needed sustainable development.
DARAP seeks to address the fundamental bottlenecks to data-driven and evidence-based policy advocacy by equipping both the players in the policy advocacy space (i.e., CSOs and NGOs) and those who primarily generate the data and evidence (i.e., academic researchers) to effectively dialogue and engage. This two-pronged approach aims to empower both spectra of input producers for policy advocacy and influence.
DARAP’s engagement with NGOs and CSOs is driven by the commitment to support them achieve more effective evidence-based advocacy. This support is in the form of training on how to interpret research evidence and form policy messages based on such evidence.
On the flip side, there is a challenge still faced by many academic researchers of communicating research evidence in a way that is easily accessible and usable by NGOs and CSOs.
“Our commitment, in this regard, is to train academic researchers on how to communicate their research in a way that is accessible to policy advocacy institutions. These training efforts will be complemented by a data hub, where research data (collected from different sources) will be stored to support the data needs of researchers involved in agri-food systems-related work and entities that seek readily available and accessible data for their work,” the Project Coordinator said.