The importance of working closely with key policymakers and practitioners to ensure that research is used to inform policy and action for reducing child poverty is widely understood. Yet the challenges experienced by those tasked with policy engagement are no better illustrated than in Ethiopia.
For Young Lives in Ethiopia to strengthen the connections between research, policy and practice, the team needed to identify an approach which could bring together different actors in a way which was participatory, inclusive and acknowledged the complex, multi-directional nature of the policy engagement process.
Recognising the importance of engaging with key decision-makers at an early stage, Young Lives held two consultation exercises to solicit the advice of government and non-government stakeholders in preparation for a sub-study on orphans and other vulnerable children, and their care and support.* Outcomes included the facilitation of policy discussion and collaboration between groups who had never worked together before, and led to the launch of the Child Research and Practice Forum (CRPF) – a place for researchers, policymakers and practitioners to meet regularly and talk about new research.
Building the capacity of others and encouraging policy debates on issues concerning child poverty are core activities for Young Lives policy work and the formation of the CRPF represents both of these in action. Young Lives has played an active role in strengthening the relationships between research, policy and practice in Ethiopia and has enjoyed some rapid success through the CRPF.
The CRPF has enabled Young Lives to:
- share its findings
- stimulate dialogue
- help the study to get closer to stakeholders
- promote joint action around policy-relevant issues.
The wide variety of topics discussed to date demonstrate how the Forum has become owned by a wider group. Young Lives is aware that the Forum will need support and nurturing and careful consideration of ways of ensuring it is sustainable and not dominated by any one interest group. Young Lives is a small piece within a large jigsaw. There is a lot to be gained from linking up with other stakeholders and the Forum acts as a platform for Young Lives ideas and interests, and, more importantly, to raise issues of children and poverty with a wider audience.
Laura Camfield, Rozana Himaz and Helen Murray (2009) The Impact of Parental Death on Child Outcomes: Evidence from Ethiopia, Young Lives Policy Brief 7.
Gina Cirvello and Helen Murray (2012) Why Strengthening the Linkages between Research and Practice is Important: Learning from Young Lives, Young Lives Policy Brief 19.
* The sub-study on orphans and vulnerable children in Ethiopia was funded by the Oak Foundation (www.oakfnd.org). A core part of this work was to look at how research can be better used in development policy and practice.