The Sub-Regional Office for West Africa of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA-SRO/WA), in collaboration with the Regional Institute of Population Studies (RIPS) and the Population Reference Bureau (PRB), have met in Accra to strengthen the demographic dividend in West Africa.
The second edition of its Think Tanks and Experts Seminar on Population Dynamics for Development in West Africa, held from September 28 ending Saturday, October 01, in Accra, was under the theme, "Bridging the Research-Policy Gap to Accelerate the Demographic Dividend in West Africa."
The meeting aims to accelerate progress toward the demographic dividend by stimulating policy-oriented research and translation to strengthen evidence-based policy and planning processes in the West African sub-region.
It is to deepen the survey results and facilitate knowledge sharing and peer mentoring; facilitate experience sharing, and collaboration among researchers to promote evidence-based policy-making; and enhance the link between ECA-SRO/WA, knowledge producers, and policymakers in the sub-region.
Ngone Diop, the Director of the ECA Sub-Regional Office for West Africa, said "the major challenge is to make good use of the powerful and important results of research on population dynamics to inform and guide the choice of economic, social and governance policies, as well as resources allocation.”
“We need to do more, better, and faster," said Ms Diop, "that is the key message coming out of our substantive survey of 164 researchers, the results of which helped us identify and understand the missing link between research and policy, research and action, and the fact that research results are only marginally taken into account in the formulation of policies and programmes, in this case those aiming at accelerating the capture of the demographic dividend.”
The African Union Commission (AUC) in collaboration with the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), UNFPA and other partners developed a roadmap focusing on four key pillars: employment and entrepreneurship, education and skills development, health and wellbeing as well as rights, governance, and youth empowerment.
The roadmap and pillars are to support and guide member states to develop country specific action plans and areas of focus to achieve the demographic dividend at national levels.
To implement this AU roadmap to achieve the demographic dividend (DD) and in effect the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Agenda 2063, there is urgent need for robust policy reforms and programmes at country levels.
Evidence of ‘what works’ will play an essential role in fostering effective and efficient policies and programs. The use of evidence in policy and practice has not only proven to produce better results, but also reduces poverty, improves health outcomes and advances development performance.
The four-day seminar was attended by think tanks, universities, research institutes, individual researchers, and intergovernmental organisations (IGOs) at the forefront of research in the West African sub-region. Selected policy makers are also invited to join the conversation.