Ghana Science to Policy Workshop 2020

By Gertrude Owusu and Prosper Adiku

The Science to Policy workshop was organised by the BRECcIA Ghana project team as part of its annual Summer School events for the year 2020, in Kamas. The workshop was aimed at interacting with key national level stakeholders involved in policy and decision making relating to water and food security, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Parliamentarians drawn from the BRECcIA study areas. Beyond engaging with these stakeholders and providing an update of the project to them, the Science to Policy Workshop was aimed at engaging with key stakeholders that would serve as the entry point for BRECcIA research evidence into policy. Specifically, the workshop sought to achieve the following objectives:

• Present evidence from Small Research Projects (SRPs) to policy makers
• Engage with policy makers on how to impact policy from the BRECcIA research
• Synthesise research evidence and networking with policy makers
• Develop synergies and collaborative links with policy makers

The Ghana team highlighted the need for policy influence to address the potential defects in synergies existing between different policies, incorporate new technologies and support better localised adaptation of policies to changing situations by integrating emerging issues into strategic planning activities. The team emphasised that evidence is essential in influencing policies as tools for change. Some suggested practical interventions that can help in bridging the science-policy gap included:

• Ensuring that the research objectives and proposed policies are based on the broader national agenda so as to promote interest and a buy in from the political hierarchy
• Drafting policies with developmental strategies as critical components based on the assessment and the prioritisation
• Considering factors such as the government’s development agenda, critical emerging issues (e.g. COVID-19) and issues relating to regional or sub-regional agenda in research in order to attract the needed attention in support of policy influence

Stakeholders were also asked for their thoughts on how to bridge the gap between science and policy. Their responses included:

• There is need for a paradigm shift – policy makers must approach researchers for
information to inform their decisions
• For effective and impactful evidence dissemination, there must be efforts at the onset
of research activities to include budgetary allocations for policy engagement activities
• Government needs to support scientific researchers with funds to carry out
meaningful research
• Researchers must also prioritise advocating their work among the public

The workshop provided a good overview of what researchers need to look out for and do in the quest for achieving impact/policy influence. It also provided an opportunity for the BRECcIA research team to meet and interact with key stakeholders that are influential and who can serve as points of entry to the various institutions where the research outcomes would have implications.

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