African Science Academy Development Initiative: Prioritizing Food Security Policies For Health and Development in Africa
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What is ASADI?

The African Science Academy Development Initiative (ASADI) is a long-term project administered through the U.S. National Academies to strengthen the capacity of African science academies - and the scientific, engineering, and medical communities they represent - in providing independent, evidence-supported advice to African policy makers. The initiative also aims to foster a deeper appreciation on the part of African governments for decision making that is based on evidence and analysis - with a view toward building the demand for science academy-lef efforts.

How can ASADI promote the development process in Africa?

At the broadcast level, ASADI can contribute to improving the effectiveness and efficiency of key policy decisions, which can in turn contribute to development goals, such as improved human health. ASADI can promote the development process in Africa by strengthening the physical and intellectual infrastructure of science academies and its staff, and by increasing the academy's capacity to interact with its government. ASADI can also facilitate interactions among African Academies which: (1) helps academies learn through the successes and failures of other academies; and (2) promotes educational opportunities offered by the more advanced African academies of science.

What are the objectives of the ASADI Conferences?

ASADI conferences include four main objectives:
  • Foster exchange of ideas on how the science academies might be used to support policymaking
  • Provide participants with opportunities to network and develop/strengthen relationships (E.g., among policymakers and representatives of science academies among representatives of science academies from different countries).
  • Provide relevant input/insight for participants' work and interests
  • Deepen participants' understanding of the process of of evidence-based policymaking

In what ways do the ASADI Conferences differ from other scientific conferences?

While the objective of most scientific conferences is to update the state of knowledge through progress in a particular scientific field (perhaps the type of meeting with which most scientisist are most familiar), the objective of the ASADI conference is to convey the specific message that improvements in policy can result from science-based recommendations. The goal is to foster a dialogue between policy makers and scientists to identify public policy issues that could benefit from analysis by science academies and to understand how advice needs to be conveyed to be useful.

How was food security selected as the ASADI 2006 conference theme?

At the close of the 2005 annual meeting held in Nairobi, Kenya, African science academies discussed possible conference themes for the 2006 conference. U.S. National Academies offered the following set of criteria to guide the selection of the conference theme:

  • Illustrative of the potential for evidence-based advising
  • Suitable for highlighting current academy work
  • Relevant to as many disciplines of the membership of the academies
  • Relevant to current national and regional policy issues and complementary to other global science academy efforts
  • Offer potential for a robust slate of speakers and discussants
  • Attractive to other donors and potential funders

After discussing the options, the African science academies selected "food security" - the topic they felt met the criteria and most strongly represented the needs of Africa - as the topic for the next annual meeting.

What lessons can the participant expect to learn from the 2nd ASADI Conference?

All conference participants will have a better developed understanding of the value of evidence-based advice in policymaking and greater knowldge of science academies' potential role in providing such advice. Policy makers will more fully appreciate both the value of policy-relevant research and the value of science academies as neutral conveners of the research community. Science academy representatives will gain a deeper understanding of the needs of policymakers and how advice can most effectively be communicated to the policymaking community.

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