Capacity building to produce useful evidence: Who sets the agenda?

Please register for this free event on Eventbrite to ensure your place.

  • Snacks and tea on arrival 13:30/14:00
  • Coffee break with biscuits 15:30-16:00
  • Close at 17:00

*No lunch is provided except for snack and sandwiches provided during registration and at the break.

The following organisations have accepted invitations to contribute to the session. Each contributor will be asked to share who sets their agendas with regards their capacity building for the production of useful evidence.

  • Africa Evidence Network and Africa Centre for Evidence: Capacity building for evidence mapping and synthesis: Results of a new producer survey in Africa.
  • CLEAR-AA: Listening to participant feedback: What have we learned; what are we doing about it?
  • 3ie: Avoiding donor-driven agenda setting.
  • JPAL Africa: Building capacity using learning by doing and by mentoring partners.
  • Department for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation in the South African government (DPME): What producers need to learn from users about usefulness and how evidence is used.
  • We are also inviting the Campbell Collaboration, Cochrane and GESI to participate.

Target audience:
3ie, the Africa Centre for Evidence, Africa Evidence Network, CLEAR-AA and J-PAL Africa invite interested producers and users to facilitate an open discussion about how we currently set capacity-building agendas for the production of useful evidence, what is working and what needs to change and why. 

We welcome providers and recipients of individual-level capacity building, especially those with experience in determining needs in evidence production (evaluations and synthesis) and use. The audience will have some direct experience with and/or responsibility for capacity building and intermediate to advanced knowledge of capacity-building methods and design. Invited contributors will give short overviews that address agenda setting, needs assessment, and types of approaches. They will propose challenges to be discussed including: short courses and degree offerings, avoiding the either/or; what is important in assessing needs and why; teaching for quality useful evidence production, rather than projects; how to build on what works and change what doesn’t. Participants will discuss what actions can help address challenges and gaps that can be their take-home messages.

While there have been notable investments in building research capacity in low- and middle-income countries, approaches to building capacity to produce evaluation evidence and evidence synthesis have been more sporadic. Furthermore the agendas for this capacity building are often donor-driven and implemented by research organisations with limited understanding of what constitutes useful evidence for decision making. 

Do we need a revolution in thinking, methods and implementation with regards to how we design and implement capacity building for producers of evidence (3ie).

Invited speakers: Centre for Learning Evaluation And Results for Anglophone Africa (CLEAR-AA), 3ie, J-PAL, the Africa Evidence Network (AEN), the Africa Centre for Evidence (ACE), and the South African government’s Department for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) will share their approaches for assessing capacity building needs.

A facilitated panel will probe the following questions:

  • Who sets capacity building agendas and what impact does this have on the nature of the capacity building that is delivered?
  • Is what we do evidence informed?
  • Are our adult-learning pedagogies evidence-based and informed by knowledge of the evidence production and use contexts?
  • How can partnerships between producers and users enable more useful capacity building?
  • How can we be more responsive to known needs and current critiques from recipients and training providers?
  • What is structural and what can we be part of improving: Revolution or reform?

In small groups, participants will share their experiences and reflections about what they know from experience just won’t work (what makes them ‘see red’), what is working and not, and what needs to change.  The final part of the session will be dedicated to identifying lessons shared during the session and discussing ways forward for capacity building.

Please register for this free event on Eventbrite to ensure your place.


Tuesday 12 September 2017 - 13:30 to 17:00



Protea Hotel Victoria Junction, Cape Town

Target audience: 

interested producers and users to facilitate an open discussion about how we currently set capacity-building agendas for the production of useful evidence, what is working and what needs to change and why?

Type of session: 

After initial short presentations to frame the initial topic areas and main questions, organisers encourage all participants to reflect on them share their own experiences of receiving and delivering individual capacity building for the production of useful evidence. Facilitators will summarise the discussions and encourage participants to take the discussion forward once back home.


Our objectives are to: 1) Challenge our assumptions of how evidence capacity building agendas are set. 2) Share experiences from the diversity of capacity-building initiatives. 3) Engage participants about needs and how to meet them. 4) Reflect critically on how to improve and what to prioritise.