Building Capacity to use Research Evidence (BCURE)

Data and Evidence for Smart Policy Design is a three year engagement in India and Pakistan to build technical and institutional capacity to integrate data and research evidence into policy decision-making.

With funding from the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the project investigates the individual and organizational constraints to using research evidence and data, and works with local implementing partners to systematically address these constraints in each country's context.

BCURE's Strategic Purpose:

Greater use of data and research evidence by policymakers has the potential to dramatically improve policy outcomes and contribute to poverty reduction and enhanced socioeconomic wellbeing. But for policy decisions to be grounded in evidence, policymakers must have the technical capabilities as well as the incentives and motivation to access, appraise and apply data and evidence.

EPoD's Approach:

Evidence for Policy Design has been awarded a three-year contract by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) to carry out a comprehensive capacity building program to increase the use of rigorous data and research evidence by policymakers. Recognizing that evidence use is grounded upon a shared recognition of its value across policy networks, our program seeks to build a "culture of evidence" where using evidence to inform policy becomes the norm among a broad set of policy actors.

The program will target two focus countries - India and Pakistan - and will build on country leadership, established partnerships with local research and policy organizations, and direct engagement with policymakers. The multi-pronged and multi-level capacity building approach features four primary activities:

Policy Dialogues

Pilot Projects

Policy Dialogues
 advance consensus around the value of evidence-based policy, and bring together key stakeholders from government, political parties, military, private sector, civil society, academia and the media to discuss key policy issues. The dialogues provide a forum for multi-directional dialogue, strategic coordination, interactive problem solving and negotiation in order to advance policy through a shared understanding of the evidence base. Evidence gaps are identified to highlight priorities for future policy research.

Policy Dialogues are problem-focused forums for debate, frequently using breakout sessions where groups are assigned to work through specific issues.

In-country Pilot Projects fill identified gaps in leveraging data for policy design and implementation in order to showcase the value of data and support an engaged, demand-driven approach to using evidence. These high-potential projects that build systems for policymakers to gather, analyze and apply relevant data and evidence (such as data visualization tools, information systems and dashboards) are funded through a competitive process. The projects are incubated by the program team through ongoing mentoring and technical support.

EPoD has been working with India’s Ministry of Rural Development to create the MGNREGA Data Explorer


Training Program

Our innovative assessment is mapping the policy process to determine where data and evidence can make inroads. By evaluating hypotheses drawn from the fields of organizational science, psychology, behavioral economics and political science, and working with civil service training academies and policy partners, the assessment, which is currently underway, will contribute new knowledge on the individual, organizational and institutional factors that influence the use of evidence in policy making and leverage these insights to maximize the capacity building impact of the other program activities.

Barriers to evidence use chart

Initial assessment surveys in Pakistan and India explore perceived barriers to evidence use among bureaucrats.

Our cutting-edge and scalable digital training platform will strengthen individual capacity among policy actors. This tool builds on recent developments in pedagogical methods as well as a participatory diagnosis of training needs. It teaches technical skills within a policy analysis framework, highlighting practical approaches for applying data and evidence across a broad range of decision contexts. The Harvard team is collaborating with in-country training counterparts to develop materials and is utilizing a blended learning model to deliver them to a wide audience.

Systematic Approaches to Policy Decisions Digital Unit

EPoD is partnering with leading agencies that train civil servants in each program country to develop a blended learning training platform.

Partnerships with Others:

The program is led by Evidence for Policy Design in partnership with a consortium of local implementing organizations and policy counterparts; local partners will take full leadership of all activities by the end of the three-year grant period to ensure sustainability. Our implementing partners include the Center for Economic Research in Pakistan and IFMR LEAD. Policy partners include a range of leading public agencies and non-profit organizations working in key policy areas across the three countries.

BCURE is funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID). 

UK aid