(2019) Project Concept – Establish ‘A Forum for Science-Policy Interface in Ethiopia’ – Assefa, Adane, Lessa, Sibhato

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In February 2020, INGSA-Africa announced the winners of their 2019 Project Concept Competition.
Shortly after, the world was forced to pivot entirely to the threat of COVID-19 and regrettably, these essays were not celebrated in the way we would have liked
So even though the local and global context has now changed so much, we wanted to release the winning Project Concepts from 2019 and hope that you find them insightful despite the delay in their publication. 


Azeb Assefa, Ethiopian Civil Service University; Mekdes Adane, Saint Merry University; Lemma Lessa, Addis Ababa University, Hailekiros Sibhato, Mekelle university


1.     Background

The project team members attended a recent INGSA Science advice workshop held from 28- 29 October 2019, at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on the Role of Science in Assisting Regional Policy Development. Besides, they have attended another related workshop on Science Advice and Leadership for Early Career Scientists and Policy Makers held from October 31 – November 2, 2019, at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. During these two workshops, the team members learned that the relationship between scientists and policymakers is very weak especially in Africa that in turn resulted in minimal use of evidence-based science advice. On the other hand, the situation these days demands a strong collaboration between scientists, policymakers and other stakeholders to actualize development goals. The essence of this project is, therefore, to create a bridge between science and policy in Ethiopia. The forum will serve as a platform where recent research findings will be presented by scientists and where policymakers will reflect on them as well as make use of them.

The forum will provide a framework for facilitating the sharing of information between stakeholders, provide advice on policy priorities for decision-makers in their policy formulation and implementation process. It will enhance cooperation among government organs, civil societies, universities and research institutions in the country. It will also provide a framework for serving as a focal point for enforcing utilization of scientific information for evidence-based decision making.


2.     The rationale of the Proposed Science to Policy Forum

The two workshops taught us that the causes for the weak relationship are attributed to both the researchers and policymakers. Besides, we had a good understanding of the possible mechanisms that can be applied to address those challenges. Among other things, addressing those challenges require our commitment, dedication, creating a forum as intermediary between the two parties and also have a collective voice as scientists to influence policymakers to get heard. Therefore, the proposed Forum for Science-Policy Interface will be a multi-stakeholder Forum comprising of representatives of academia, practitioners, policymakers, communities, NGOs and the private sector in Ethiopia. The forum is intended to serve as an intermediary body to bridge the gaps between science, policy, and practice. It will also act as an intermediary or agent between science and society and to facilitate and promote a better understanding of on-going and emerging national problems and of the strategies needed to address them. Thus, this Forum is expected to provide the necessary information for evidence-based decision making and serve as dialogue platform to build consensus among the key stakeholders.


3.     Objectives of the Forum for Science-Policy Interface

Objectives of the proposed Science-Policy Interface Forum are:

  1. Information sharing between Governmental institutions, NGOs, academic and research institutions in Ethiopia;
  2. Cooperation amongst Governmental institutions, NGOs, universities and research institutions in the country;
  3. Facilitating identification of opportunities for collaborative research in line with the development priorities of the country;
  4. Providing linkage between research and decision making processes, and
  5. Providing a session for dialogue/discourse on policy issues among representatives of Governmental institutions, NGOs, academic and research institutions in Ethiopia.


4.     Terms of Reference for the Forum for Science-Policy Interface

  1. Serve as a bridge to science to policy interface (through organizing sessions for debates/discourse) to improve evidence-based decision making within the government organs in the country;
  2. Advise the council of ministers and committees in the parliament of Ethiopia on policy-related issues;
  3. Facilitating the sharing and exchange of information between stakeholders;
  4. Working closely with appropriate regional and international scientific institutions to advise on any trends in the scientific data that need fast action at the management level in Ethiopia;
  5. Facilitate the provision of expert support in management decisions and policies;
  6. Contributing to the capacity of decision-makers’ to let them make evidence-based decisions through training opportunities;


5.     Key Players of the Forum for Science-Policy Interface

The key players of the proposed Science-Policy Interface Forum are:

  1. Higher learning institutions in Ethiopia,
  2. Research institutes in Ethiopia,
  3. Ethiopian Academy of Sciences,
  4. Ministry of Science and Higher Education,
  5. House of Peoples’ Representatives of Ethiopia,
  6. Council of Ministers of Ethiopia
  7. NGOs
  8. Community representatives
  9. Representatives from the private sector


6.     Sustainability Strategy for the Forum

It is essential for any project to be sustainable in order to deliver its purpose to the maximum. For this reason, the project team will focus on institutionalizing the forum to have recognition mainly by the key stakeholders (government, academia, and research institutes). An option in this regard is making the forum to be hosted and administered by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education or Ethiopian Academy of Sciences. Besides, future funding from government sources and granting agencies (local and internal) will be sought. Besides, the project team commits to the ongoing operation of the forum for a certain period of time in consultation with all concerned parties such as Ministry of Science and Higher Education, Ethiopian Academy of Sciences, Council of Ministers, and the parliament of Ethiopia. The sustainability of the project will also be assured by the long-standing position of our universities and research institutes to serve the community through University-Industry linkage.


7.     Forum for Science-Policy Interface’s Operations

The forum will operate as follows:

  1. Membership is open to any Governmental institutions, NGOs, higher learning and research institutions operating in Ethiopia;
  2. Membership is a formal process based on application and admission procedures;
  3. Representation for each member institution shall be by the head of the institution. The institution should formally identify an alternate who may attend meetings in the absence of the head and such alternates should preferably be the deputy to the head;
  4. The Science to Policy Forum can seek advice from any other individual experts as may be required in an ad-hoc manner.


8.     Immediate next Action items (January 01, 2020 – March 31, 2020)

  •  Enrich the concept note through:
    • Develop governance structure for the forum together with standard working procedures;
    • Developing draft Code of conduct and guideline for the forum operation;
    • Developing draft roles and responsibilities of stakeholders of the forum;
    • Identifying thematic areas for science-policy


  • Contact key stakeholders and present our idea
  • Find and negotiate with a government organ or another party (such as Ethiopian Academy of Sciences) to host the forum
  • Facilitate formulation of Advisory committee/board from key stakeholders
  • Run kick-off meeting with stakeholders