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A helpdesk to accelerate the use of evidence by policymakers and practitioners in West Africa

7 August 2023

In sub-Saharan Africa, evidence-informed decision-making is constrained by many factors related in one way to the quality of available evidence, which may be fragmented, outdated, and inappropriate, and in another way to the lack of capacities of potential evidence users to source, extract, understand and mainstream evidence into concrete decisions. Yet, evidence is essential to help policymakers and practitioners (non-governmental organizations, development partners, the private sector, etc.) make informed decisions.

In this context, ACED launched an evidence service named “Helpdesk” to assist policymakers and practitioners in accessing, understanding, and using evidence to inform their interventions. Upon requests, the helpdesk produces evidence syntheses on various topics through a five steps process: Eligibility checking, Scoping, Systematic review, Evidence synthesis, and Guiding the mainstreaming of the evidence into concrete decisions. The helpdesk service is open to governmental and non-governmental organizations at the national and regional levels (West African region).

The evidence syntheses produced by the Helpdesk are more than mere compilations of available knowledge on the investigated topics. They also propose a critical interpretation of evidence and meaning in the specific context of the end users. We have already produced an evidence synthesis for the West African Development Bank on the determinants of adopting improved agricultural technologies by smallholders in West Africa. The developed evidence synthesis was meant to inform a regional program on improved agricultural technologies. Similarly, to inform the formulation of the agricultural insurance strategy, the Helpdesk produced an evidence synthesis on insurance subscriptions by smallholder and family farmers upon request of the Benin National Fund for Agricultural Development. Currently, the Helpdesk is working with the Benin Ministry of Agriculture to elaborate an evidence synthesis on the impact of the agricultural extension services. This evidence synthesis is required to highlight the value proposition of investing an additional 4.5 million US dollars in extension services.

Requests for evidence syntheses can be submitted online using the form “request" or by contacting the helpdesk directly at +229 69362121.