The University of Johannesburg is pleased to announce that its Africa Evidence Network (AEN) has received a windfall of USD$1 million from the Hewlett Foundation. This fund was allocated to the University as part of AEN’s efforts to reduce poverty and inequality in Africa.
Says Professor Ruth Stewart, chairperson of UJ’s AEN: “Poverty and inequality are complex and profound challenges for Africa for which shared and collaborative solutions, using high-quality evidence, are required. This ground-breaking deal will enable the AEN to support evidence-informed decision-making, increasing the effectiveness of policies and their implementation This will help reduce waste, increasing accountability and transparency.”
Prof Stewart recognises that thousands of individuals and hundreds of organisations are working to develop the use of evidence in decision-making across the continent but that obstacles such as isolation, a lack of understanding of what works, and a limited coherence across the evidence ecosystem, all hamper the needed results.
“The need for stronger relationships and greater collaboration on a system level are not prioritised. There is an under-investment in the African evidence ecosystem in relationship and collaboration-based organisations and initiatives. The complexity of these challenges and the great potential for meaningful change highlight the need for greater awareness of related activities and of opportunities for collaboration. This also calls for better-coordinated advocacy for evidence and development of relevant capacities,” she adds.
As the only continental evidence network, spanning across 40 countries and more than 20 African governments, AEN is thus a leader internationally.
Prof Stewart concludes: “As a continent-wide network spanning the major stakeholder groups in evidence-informed decision-making, the AEN has the potential to bring key players together and to provide a neutral space where norms and practices can be jointly discussed and set as a community. It is encouraging to see the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation investing in the University. This investment will translate our advances into socio-economic gains for the country and the region.”