How rapid research supports evidence-based policymaking
The Covid-19 pandemic and recent cuts to the UK’s aid budget are critical reminders that policy decisions require timely and rigorous evidence. As the IDS-led Knowledge, Evidence and Learning for Development Programme (K4D) celebrates its 1000th Helpdesk Report, Sian Herbert explains why this milestone matters.
The K4D Helpdesk, and its previous iterations, has for the past twenty years been providing evidence and knowledge services to the UK Government – specifically the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and prior to that the Department for International Development. Last month, we published our 1000th rapid-response literature review (otherwise known as a ‘Helpdesk Report’). Our longevity is testament to the usefulness of our work to the UK Government, and to the crucial need for rapid and responsive evidence, knowledge, and learning services for policymakers.
Busy civil servants do not have the time or headspace to do deep dive research, or to keep up with emerging evidence, on their specialist areas. Yet they have to make decisions on a daily basis on how to address some of the world’s most serious challenges, decisions that affect millions of vulnerable people across the globe. This is where the Knowledge Evidence and Learning for Development Programme (K4D) Helpdesk comes into play. One of the critical successes of our model is balancing timeliness with rigour to produce evidence-based reports to help bridge academia and policy.