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23 August 2017
Building a Research Evidence culture for Public Policy Management in Uganda Print
Monday, 14 September 2015 11:27

The DRUSSA programme has been working with academic institutions and government departments in Ghana and Uganda in order to link the supply and demand side of Research Uptake. This is being done through Symposia, Executive Education courses and a Fellowship scheme that places academics in government departments, allowing in-house government access to research expertise.

One of the Southern partners for this activity in Uganda has been the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (UNCST), a Government of Uganda Agency, established by Cap 209 of the Laws of Uganda under the Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development.

"UNCST acts as a convenor and facilitator as well as a participant in the Policy Symposia, through selecting policy makers and researchers to be invited, guiding the selection of policy relevant topics, contributing to the discourse, and most importantly following up on resolutions"

Linked Programme Interventions

The three activities are intricately linked in order to reinforce each other and have a stronger impact; and UNCST plays a critical role in each of them.

UNCST acts as a convenor and facilitator as well as a participant in the Policy Symposia, through selecting policy makers and researchers to be invited, guiding the selection of policy relevant topics, contributing to the discourse, and most importantly following up on resolutions.

UNCST organises and co-ordinates the Executive Education Courses by planning the activities in collaboration with the Civil Service College Uganda (CSCU) and The Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) , and it designs and develops course material in consultation with government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA’s). It identifies participants and suitable facilitators and speakers. Finally it plays a critical role in evaluation – assessing the quality of the training as well as following up on the implementation of learning achievements.

UNCST coordinates the Fellowship placement through establishing the capacity requirements of the government MDA’s in terms of using research evidence to influence policy making, and coordinating the competitive selection of Policy Fellows. In addition it supervises the Fellows while they are in place, and assesses their progress in building an evidence based culture and promoting the engagement of university academia in the policy making process.

"capacity gaps in MDAs should inform the design of course curricula and course modules should address knowledge and practice challenges faced by MDAs in evidence based policy-making"

Strengthening Impact

After 18 months there have been a number of lessons learned in implementing these three activities, and amendments are being made to increase their effectiveness. In terms of the Policy Symposia it is important that the MDAs are empowered to drive symposia agenda for ownership of the process and results. The Symposia should focus on MDA priorities and they should be cascaded in order for there to be systematic progression towards concrete  interventions within the MDAs.

To improve the Executive Education activities capacity gaps in MDAs should inform the design of course curricula and course modules should address knowledge and practice challenges faced by MDAs in evidence based policy-making. In addition the analysis of the policy cycle should extend beyond formulation to include implementation and review so that research evidence ‘fits’ the stage of the cycle at which policymakers are considering establishing or changing policy.

With regards to the Fellowship, placements the Policy Fellows should primarily act as enablers other than generators of the required knowledge resources for evidence-based policy within the MDAs. They should also mainly focus on providing research evidence required to implement on-going and prioritised policy programs of the MDAs.


Drt Ismail Barugahara is the Assistant Executive Secretary at the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (UNCST)

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