Policy brief 1: Evidence-based policy-making (EBPM): Enhancing the use of evidence and knowledge in policy-making
Evidence-based policy making (EBPM) is advocated internationally for its potential to contribute to effective policy. EBPM aims to increase the use of scientific research, including research from the social and economic sciences, as a source of evidence for policy-making; asking questions about the nature of the problem under scrutiny, how it has been addressed elsewhere and the cost, benefit and effectiveness of interventions. Such evidence needs to be integrated with policy-makers’ expertise, experience and judgement in order to ensure its relevance and applicability in specific contexts. While EPBM is increasingly talked about in South Africa, it is not sufficiently recognised by policy-makers and in some cases, evidence-building is not effectively linked to real policy engagement. However, there is evidence of political will to use EBPM to develop and evaluate effective policy.
Policy brief 2: Making the case for a decentralized small-scale farmer strategy in South Africa
A key priority area for the South African government is rural development, food security and land reform. A vibrant small-scale farming sector has the potential to reduce rural poverty, unemployment and food insecurity, as well as address the political challenges of racially unbalanced agricultural production patterns. However, past and current government initiatives to support small-scale farmers have generally not been effective because they have been too prescriptive about what smallholder farmers produce; their use of technology; scale of production; and purpose of production (whether for consumption or sale). Broader economic conditions such as the dualistic nature of the economy, particularly in the agricultural sector, have also presented challenges to small-scale farmers in terms of market access and opportunities for value addition, and the scarcity of water has constrained the development of new irrigation capacity.
Policy brief 3: Tackling youth unemployment in South Africa: A multi-pronged strategy
South Africa faces a high youth unemployment rate that is projected to persist well into the future. Demand-side factors include slow economic growth and structural changes in the economy, while supply-side factors include an upsurge in youth work-seekers, inadequate information, resource constraints and insufficient skills and job market experience for the youth. This policy brief presents several labour market interventions, derived from local and international experience, that aim to improve youth employment outcomes in both the formal and informal sector. Policy-makers must urgently consider all possible options to prevent the threat of a generation of long-term unemployed youth that would have undesirable consequences for society. A key policy implication is the need to incorporate an evaluation framework in existing and planned policy interventions in order to accurately gauge impact.
Policy brief 4: Measuring social cohesion: Toward a social cohesion barometer for South Africa
This policy brief presents the South African Social Cohesion Barometer and key findings and recommendations that emanated from the application of this measurement tool. Social cohesion can be considered as consisting of three components (domains): economic, socio-cultural and civic. Three key results emerged when each domain was examined using the 2009 and 2010 South African Social Attitude Surveys (SASAS). Firstly, the socio-cultural domain received the lowest score, which suggests that South Africans measure low on social trust, racial tolerance and interracial contact. Secondly, the civic domain recorded the highest score, indicating that the country is most socially cohesive as a result of higher levels of national identity, participation and interest in political activities. Thirdly, across all the three domains, one observes socio-demographic inequalities in attitudes and behaviours towards social cohesion. Based on the analytical results, several recommendations were made and are outlined in this brief.
Policy brief 5: Agricultural biodiversity and health
The recent climate change debate and food crisis in many parts of Africa have created a renewed awareness of the importance and the value of biodiversity and its agricultural counterpart. This policy brief provides empirical evidence of how the role of agricultural biodiversity can be translated into improved health and nutritional status, improved livelihoods and more sustainable production systems in contemporary poor rural and urban communities in the North-West Province of South Africa. Evidence has been provided regarding the availability of a variety of edible traditional and indigenous plants in the North-West Province and how these plants can add to food variety and food security.