The Programme to Support Pro-poor Policy Development (PSPPD) is a research and capacity building programme. The PSPPD promotes the use of research and other evidence in policy interventions which address poverty and inequality. The PSPPD, Phase II focuses on consolidating an approach to policy-making that is more evidence-based, i.e. assisting policy-makers and researchers in systematically harnessing the best available evidence to inform the policy-making process.
Policy makers need evidence to inform their decisions so that they can make informed policy choices and improve the implementation of those policies. Good quality research can help to illustrate the extent of problems and the underlying causes. This is important in deciding where to focus, as well as which interventions are needed to address problems. ‘Evidence’ refers to the body of knowledge that is being drawn on and used to inform policy decisions. This approach of using scientific research and other evidence to formulate policies is known as evidence-based policymaking (EBPM).
The first phase of the PSPPD ran from 2007- 2012 and focused primarily on supporting the social sector. It used the evidence-based policy-making approach to generate new knowledge, through its grant-making process, by funding thirteen research projects. In addition to this, the Programme undertook a number of capacity building activities. Among these were training, study tours and exchange programmes. These activities included both policy-makers and academics and the aim was to contribute to their skills, attain new skills and gain exposure to good practice in other countries, and to learn from challenges within the policy-making arena.
The second phase of the PSPPD (2012 – 2017) will leverage its knowledge and experience gained in Phase I to further strengthen the use of research and other evidence in policy-making and implementation. The second Phase will be implemented in the social and economic sectors of government and be aligned to support the National Development Policy Support Programme (NDPSP), the overarching Programme between the South African government and the European Union.
The PSPPD II has three components :(i) research, (ii) capacity building; and (iii) stakeholder engagement. In the research component a Call for Proposals process will be launched shortly. The theme is ‘Working towards Eliminating Poverty and Reducing Inequality: Addressing the Implementation Challenge’. With regard to the capacity building component, the PSPPD is currently managing an International Tender process which will set up the Learning Facility. The Learning Facility is a management and logistics facility that will undertake the capacity building activities of the Programme. The third component of the programme is mainly focussed on managing stakeholder relationships.
The PSPPD is situated within the National Planning Commission (NPC). The NPC has finalised the National Development Plan and Cabinet has mandated it to develop an Implementation Framework. The PSPPD will provide support to this critical area of work and further complement the body of evidence through its research and partnerships with academia, think tanks and the public sector. During the first Phase of the Programme, it worked closely with and contributed significantly to the evaluation component of the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPM&E) within the Presidency. These two Ministries within the Presidency will continue to be strategic and institutional partners to the PSPPD II.
A key function of the PSPPD Phase II is to build on the support it provided in enhancing the capacity of these two Departments. In particular, the Phase II will build on the evaluation policy, systems and the use of evaluation to improve policy implementation and provide support for the implementation of the National Development Plan. Through continued support in embedding new practices across government with regards to evidence-based policy-making, these departments will be exemplars to the rest of government.
The Presidency is taking the lead and showing how a learning institution improves what it does. This will be done through enhancing the analytical capacity of policy-makers in South Africa through professional development, so that they are able to use better methods for making use of different kinds of knowledge, improve systems for ensuring that the right knowledge is available to decision-makers timeously and that are developed for continuous learning.Through building the institutions of government and a body of scholarship on poverty and inequality, the ability of the government to address these challenges will be improved. The over-arching theme, therefore, for Phase II is the reduction of poverty and inequality.
The focus will be on the following departments in the Social Cluster :Departments of Social Development, Health, Education and Rural Development. In the Economic Cluster, the focus will be on the Departments of Economic Development, Trade and Industry and the National Treasury. The number of Provinces will be increased and will include the following: Limpopo, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng. The level of engagement with the four provinces will vary.
PSPPD Phase II will continue with the building of strategic partnerships. This includes the close collaboration with the National Income Dynamics Survey (NIDS) Project which is currently implemented by the Southern African Labour Research Unit (SALDRU) at the University of Cape Town (UCT). The PSPPD has also worked in partnership with the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), in particular with the Research Use and Impact Assessment Unit and its Policy Action Network. This collaboration will continue in the second phase.
The PSPPD II has three priority or result areas which are:
Result 1: The PSPPD will make new and existing research and other evidence available and support and finance the generation of new knowledge.
Result 2: Improve the awareness and skills of policy-makers and researchers in generating, analysing and using research and evidence.
Result 3: Work with key stakeholders to identify institutional mechanisms to improve the use of evidence to inform policy-making and implementation. For example, outcome support processes – clusters/implementation forums relevant to key themes; Department of Performance and Evaluation and National Planning Commission systems, Limpopo Research Forum, provincial monitoring and evaluation units, Policy Action Network (PAN) and other knowledge management and sharing systems and processes within government and its partners.