When we were invited to partake in EVIDENCE 2020 ONLINE, the Africa Evidence Network’s (AEN) biennial event, we learned so much about the constitution of the AEN and its power to bring people together, foster collaboration, share capacities, and disseminate knowledge irrespective of borders.
Story by Laura Boeira, executive director of Veredas Institute, Brazil
Being part of a Brazilian non-governmental organisation (NGO) dedicated to knowledge translation for social policies, I had the great pleasure of getting to know the evidence-informed decision-making champions from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda through the global Partnership for Evidence and Equity in Responsive Social Systems (PEERSS) that our countries have been part of since late 2018. Brazil shares a number of challenges with Africa, including the fact that our regions have continental dimensions and contexts that vary greatly across the regions. We always marveled at the ability of our colleagues in Africa to apply and further develop knowledge translation tools and engage diverse stakeholders in a very context-specific way.
When we were invited to partake in EVIDENCE 2020 ONLINE, the Africa Evidence Network’s (AEN) biennial event, we learned so much about the constitution of the AEN and its power to bring people together, foster collaboration, share capacities, and disseminate knowledge irrespective of borders. We were really inspired to create a similar network in Brazil and in October 2020, less than a month after the event, we started sharing this idea with partners that received the news with great enthusiasm.
A first mapping of organizations was circulated online in November 2020, receiving 64 responses from multi-sectoral organizations. Soon we had 134 people in our mailing list, eager to collaborate on forming this regional network. In the first three months of 2021, we studied different networks and partnerships, and learned from the history of the AEN and its secretariat. We had the first meeting of the Brazilian Coalition for Evidence in April 2021, bringing together almost 50 Brazilian organizations passionate about evidence-informed policymaking (EIP) and knowledge translation. Since then, the Coalition has been meeting monthly and advancing in the development of its theory of change.
Going forward, we are eager to keep this great group of people motivated and engaged, hosting webinars, and offering an open-course on EIP, as well as further developing our communication strategies and platforms. We are also hopeful about the prospects of a Latin America Network, since our partners in Chile and Colombia have shown great interest in strengthening regional exchanges. We are ecstatic about having AEN members as mentors in this process, learning from their achievements (and also the things that didn’t go so well). After all, this is the story of how the AEN has inspired our steps toward a more collaborative and evidence-informed ecosystem of Brazilian policymaking.