IDS is committed to putting research evidence at the heart of efforts to influence policy and practice. In 2017, this commitment could be seen in IDS’ active membership of the Global Coalition to End Child Poverty and in the impacts that followed.
Through partnership working, IDS successfully influenced key coalition members to make research evidence central to their messaging on and approaches to ending child poverty as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The highpoint of activities with the coalition in 2017 was a dynamic conference in October in Addis Ababa – Putting Children First: identifying solutions and taking action to tackle poverty and inequality in Africa.
Around 200 delegates attended the event, co-organised by the coalition members including UNICEF, Save the Children and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) – as well as IDS and the ESRC–DFID Impact Initiative for
International Development Research. The pan-African conference was the culmination of months of groundwork by both IDS and the Impact Initiative, with the impetus coming from an IDS-hosted research day involving INGO campaigners and academics in November 2016.
Much of IDS’ active involvement in the Global Coalition since its inception in 2014 has been through the work of Keetie Roelen, who was one of the primary initiators, organisers and leaders of the Putting Children First conference.
Praise and excitement
The conference’s aim was to offer a platform for bridging divides across sectors, disciplines, policy, practice and research, and an opportunity to building lasting relationships among coalition members, academics, policy actors and donors.
Judging by the comments from one senior INGO representative, struck by the ‘level of excitement and engagement’ among delegates, the event was a resounding success. Further praise and evidence of the conference’s impact came from Saurabh Sinha of UNECA’s Social Development Policy Division. He noted how the ‘whole tenor of the conference has provided an additional dimension that we would have missed – the issue of child poverty in inequality. It has also helped to sharpen
our messaging when we work with member states’.
During the conference, the Impact Initiative facilitated video conversations so that social scientists could interview senior policy actors and practitioners from UN agencies, the World Health Organization, the Department for International Development, INGOs and the Ethiopian Government about their use of evidence. For some participants, it offered the first opportunity to speak directly to key government and international officials and leading child poverty researchers.
For co-organiser Richard Morgan from Save the Children, the conference ‘uncovered research on key issues around children in poverty that we wouldn’t
otherwise have been aware of, providing a platform and spotlight for Africa-related and -based research’.
Broader thematic impact
Multimedia from the event provided a unique insight into how policymakers and practitioners use evidence and research to inform their decisions and programme designs. This was made available online and has since been viewed hundreds of times. Key policy themes emerged from the conference that may otherwise have been absent from the global movement’s work on child poverty and inequality. The subsequent What works for Africa’s poorest children event, run by UNICEF Uganda and the University of Manchester, builds on the conference’s framing and themes, reflecting its broader impact. New relationships and collaborations were also established, including an invitation to an ESRC–DFID-funded research team working in Ethiopia to join a ministerial sponsored event on child poverty. IDS and the Impact Initiative also went on to co-host an INGO Forum event at the UN’s 62nd Commission on the Status of Women.