Nov. 14, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AFRICAN SCIENCE ACADEMIES MEET IN UGANDA; CONFERENCE TO FOCUS ON AID EFFECTIVENESS IN AFRICA'S HEALTH SECTOR
KAMPALA, Uganda - The Uganda National Academy of Sciences is hosting the seventh annual conference of the African Science Academy Development Initiative (ASADI), which begins today. Officials from several African science academies will meet over the course of three days with counterparts from the U.S. National Academies, European science academies, and other experts from around the world to discuss aid effectiveness in Africa's health sector, the theme of this year's conference.
"It is an honor to host this meeting of African science academies and to have so many renowned researchers, international development experts, and policymakers gathered under one roof focusing on some of the most important challenges facing sub-Saharan Africa," said Paul Mugambi, president, Uganda National Academy of Sciences. "The conference is also an opportunity to showcase the capacity building that is taking place among African science academies to better inform policymaking via evidence-based advice."
At the opening of the conference, the Uganda National Academy of Sciences unveiled a new report linked to the theme of this year's conference. Informing Strategies, Improving Results: The Role of Civil Society Organisations in Managing for Results in Africa's Health Sector presents the results of a questionnaire of civil society organizations in Uganda and throughout sub-Saharan Africa. An international planning committee, which included representatives of several African science academies, oversaw the work that led to the report. Staff from the U.S. National Academies assisted in the report's preparation as well.
Civil society organizations, often operating at the grass-roots level, play various roles in the health care sector and have important links to local communities. Their part in aid effectiveness and the broader goal of development effectiveness is increasingly being recognized by leaders around the world, and for the first time they will be official participants at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness beginning later this month in Busan, South Korea.
A 2005 OECD forum in Paris established five principles of aid effectiveness including "managing for results," which means implementing aid in a way that focuses on desired results and uses information to improve decision making. At a follow-up OECD forum in Accra, Ghana, government ministers and heads of development institutions endorsed the deepening engagement with civil society organizations that is being pursued today.
The new report analyzes to what extent civil society organizations may be using strategic plans, performance assessments, and other evaluation tools to achieve desired results. These organizations appear to be managing for results in general, but their practices would benefit from greater cooperation among civil society organizations across Africa to share lessons learned as well as from investments in systems that lead to greater accountability. Stronger partnerships between African governments and these organizations could help maximize results, the report adds, especially at a time when global economic conditions may result in less donor support.
The report also notes that given their distinctive position at the interface between science and policy, science academies are well-placed to provide expertise and a neutral platform to inform evidence-based approaches to aid effectiveness. In the front of the report, a statement by eight African science academies emphasizes that Africa should "be using science to determine the effectiveness of investments in those sectors key to development." Getting better results and improving accountability largely depends on whether investments are documented as effective by impacting the communities that receive them, the report adds.
Many of the issues raised in the report will be discussed at the conference, which will provide an opportunity for donors, governments, and civil society organizations to describe their role in aid and development effectiveness and to discuss strategic partnerships aimed at implementing efficient aid practices and moving the development agenda forward, including how to follow up on calls for action expected at the upcoming Busan forum.
ASADI is a multiyear, collaborative effort among the U.S. National Academies and the national science academies of Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, and Uganda, as well as the regional African Academy of Sciences. The goal of the initiative, which is sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is to strengthen the capacity of the African science academies to provide evidence-based advice to better inform policymaking and public discourse. For more information, visit http://nationalacademies.org/asadi. The U.S. National Academies is made up of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, U.S. National Academy of Engineering, U.S. Institute of Medicine, and U.S. National Research Council.
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The African Science Academy Development Initiative is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Photos provided by Peter Arnold Inc., U.S. Agency for International Development, World Health Organization, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases.