Temitope Olawunmi Sogbanmu, is the recipient of the Africa Evidence Leadership Award 2022 in the Evidence Intermediaries category offered by the Africa Evidence Network. We caught up with Temitope about receiving the award and asked her some questions about what the Africa Evidence Leadership Award means for her work.
AEN: How did you feel and respond when you were told that you had received the award?
TOS: I felt quite elated and honoured to have been voted the winner of the award. I have been looking forward to it and I’m highly elated that it’s come through and at such an auspicious time when the EUEPiN Project needs the visibility and recognition for the work we are doing. Though this award is individual, it is actually a recognition of the work and efforts of a team of advisors, research/project team, institutional partners, workshop facilitators, my university management, our trained participants who are now part of the EUEPiN EIDM Community of Practice, EUEPiN workshop participants ‘in waiting’, our followers and well-wishers from all over the world.
AEN: What role do you think the Africa Evidence Leadership Award plays in the evidence-production and -use ecosystem in Africa?
TOS: The AELA I believe is a great platform to project EIDM knowledge, work, and practice across the continent, showcasing the impacts and encouraging the embrace of EIDM by all stakeholders in the evidence production, brokerage/intermediary, and use space. It also provides an avenue for more stakeholders to get to know the work and impact of the AEN and other evidence champions and centres globally and particularly in Africa. For instance, I didn’t know much about the AEN until I heard about the AELA in 2020. Through the voting, I got to read about the work of evidence champions across the continent including those who didn’t ‘win’ at the time. So, the AELA showcases EIDM activities from within the continent not only of the winners and runners-up but of those who are nominated and included in the voting process as well. I remember I had applied for the Evidence Leaders Africa Award by the African Institute of Development Policy (AFIDEP) in 2020 and though I didn’t win, some people reached out to me to let me know that they were interested in the work I was doing with the EUEPiN project.
AEN: Name three ways you believe that you or your work will benefit from receiving the award? Why are these three things important to your work?
TOS: First, I believe that the EUEPiN Project which I am leading as well as its outputs/initiatives such as the Knowledge Translation Units (KTUs), the EUEPiN Secondment Programme, the Environmental Evidence Synthesis and Knowledge Translation (EESKT)-TCEBCEM Research Group, the Environmental Evidence Portal for Nigeria (EEPoN), among others will receive more visibility to address the evidence needs and use of relevant stakeholders in the environmental management fields in Nigeria, across Africa and globally.
Secondly, I am hopeful that the award will provide much leverage and recognition to attract funding which is earnestly required to sustain the project, its initiatives/programmes, and particularly to expand the project’s influence across Nigeria and even to the West African sub-region. We have clearly set out initiatives and programmes which are ready to take off as soon as funds become available. I believe that this award will bring relevant and interested funders, partners, and stakeholders our way to support.
Thirdly, I believe the award will be a springboard for more awards for me, an impetus to initiate more impactful projects and programmes to achieve the ‘Nigeria and Africa We Want’, promote EIDM knowledge, application, and most importantly use by decision-makers in the environmental management space. I am hopeful the award will serve as a beacon of hope to young persons like me with the desire to impact their society/world beyond the publication of research findings and breakthroughs to the application of these to solve Africa’s burgeoning environmental issues. With this award, I am emboldened and hopeful that we’ll surely achieve the Nigeria and Africa We Want and ultimately an environmentally sustainable world.
The above points are quite important for the work I and the project team are doing to promote EIDM in environmental policymaking and practice. I am of the opinion that when research/evidence informs decisions within the ambit of the contexts and experiences within nations, more robust and sustainable development is assured. Especially in Nigeria and across Africa, there is a strong need to promote ‘town and gown’ interactions, bridge the gaps between the ‘ivory towers’ and the man ‘in the street’ and at the seat of power or decision making for development impact.
AEN: What is the one thing that you are most looking forward to about attending EVIDENCE 2022?
TOS: I am looking forward to sharing my experiences and lessons learned through the EUEPiN Project as well as learning from other EIDM champions and practitioners across the continent.
AEN: What one piece of advice do you have for new colleagues coming into the evidence-informed decision-making space in Africa?
TOS: Carve a niche for yourself in the EIDM space and be driven by a passion to impact your world starting from where you are with what you have. Then, we can achieve the continent and world of our dreams.
The views expressed in published blog posts, as well as any errors or omissions, are the sole responsibility of the author/s and do not represent the views of the Africa Evidence Network, its secretariat, advisory or reference groups, or its funders; nor does it imply endorsement by the aforementioned parties. Acknowledgments do not imply endorsement of the content.