In August the Parliament of Uganda held its first ever Research Week to increase the demand and use of evidence in the Parliament of Uganda.
“There is increased visibility and usage of research services and the grapevine talk is that the image of the Department of Research Services (DRS) has improved. If all the promises (from the Speaker, Members of Parliament, fellow staff, Scientist/Researchers and media) materialize, the DRS will never be the same again.”
John Bagonza, Director of the Department of Research Services, Parliament of Uganda.
Back in August (23rd-25th) the Parliament of Uganda held its first ever Research Week – you can watch how the week unfolded here. Timed to coincide with the new 10th Parliament, the series of events organized by Parliament’s Department of Research Services (DRS) and Uganda National Academy of Sciences (UNAS) aimed to increase the demand and use of evidence in the Parliament of Uganda.
“If you are formulating policy, you ask questions like: what is the problem? Is the solution the right one? Were there alternatives? That is what Parliament should ask, rather than basing on instincts…”
Rt. Hon. Jacob L’Okori Oulanyah, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, in his opening speech.
Research Week kicked off with a press conference to invite the public and deliver three key messages:
- Research and evidence is needed in order for the Parliament to perform its duties effectively as well as improving the quality of debate in Parliament.
- Parliament of Uganda welcomes partnership with researchers and research organizations.
- UNAS can provide evidence-based advice to Parliament and link Parliament to research organizations in the country.
Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda was among the 242 MPs and 107 parliament staff to participate in the week. This great attendance was largely down to the well-positioned exhibition right outside the main entrance to Parliament. Across the three days, 18 exhibitors from across Uganda’s research system joined the DRS to showcase their research products including; journals, report, policy briefs, brochures and flyers. The DRS usually aims to get 50 research requests per month, but during the Research Week alone it received 68 new requests as well as 55 requests for its publications. Side presentations were made on each day of the exhibition to stimulate discussion between researchers and members of Parliament on topical issues. The topics that were presented included: biosafety and biosecurity, the use of evidence in policy making in Uganda and government bail-outs for struggling private companies in Uganda.
A symposium on “development and use of evidence in strengthening Parliament” was held on the final day of Research Week. It created a unique space where participants joined from government (including DRS researchers), MPs, academia, private sector, civil society organizations. A variety of perspectives were shared, creating a vibrant discussion on the current evidence use in Uganda.
“We stand for the use of correct information for the development of our country.”
Prof. Nelson Sewakambo, President of UNAS
It was agreed that going forward there is a need for a forum to be created for scientists and Members of Parliament to exchange information on topical issues being debated in Parliament.
Research Week was a great success, and the Department for Research Services hopes that this can become a regular event for each turn of Parliament.
The DRS is now engaged in sharing its experiences of Research Week with Parliament of Ghana through VakaYiko’s new Parliament Learning Exchange.
To see more about Research Week watch the video here.