BY MUDINGU JOSEPH
The Institute of Policy Analysis and Research IPAR-Rwanda is; a locally registered independent not-for-profit research and policy analysis organization, whose establishment in 2008 was premised on the need to support policy makers in designing and implementing informed and evidence based policies that will impact the lives of Rwandan citizens.
As a locally registered independent research and policy analysis think tank, IPAR became fully functional (legal undertaking) in 2008 although its establishment dates back as far back as 2005.
The institution exists to inform and enhance evidence policy making in Rwanda conducting high quality cutting edge research on policy issues, policy analysis and dissemination of research findings through: Workshops, Conferences, deliberative forums and panel discussion that promote a culture of dialogue and debate on policy issues in the Country.
Ms Eugenia Kayitesi the Executive Director of IPAR Rwanda says the institutions’ achievements in the last nine years have strategically fed into influencing Government of Rwanda policy improvement process. Ms Kayitesi says IPAR not only informs on policy design and implementation process in Rwanda, but also builds capacities of young economic reaserchers in the public and private sector institutions under the umbrella of Economic Policy Research Network (EPRN).
“IPAR- Rwanda with support from the African Capacity Building Foundation and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) has strongly built its capacity to conduct rigorous, thought provoking research and dissemination of research findings in both local, regional and international conferences and workshops. IPAR maintains an accessible information, resource center, a vibrant website and has partnered with British Library for Development Studies (BLDS) and Africa Portal to widely broaden the accessibility of its research findings,, we endeavor to build the partnerships that will ensure the greatest impact to citizens” says Kayitesi.
In regard to policymaking, IPAR is continuously consulted by government, development partners and NGOs to inform on the design and implementation process and assess the impact of policies.
“In the last nine years, we have reliably advised our major stakeholders through impact assessment of policies, identification of implementation challenges and provision of evidence policy recommendations derived from consultations with beneficiaries which have contributed to the designing of future informed policies that transform people’s lives how to better policy and on implementing them to transform people’s lives. A good policy should be able to generate constructive feedback in the course of its implementation, which (feedback) eventually help in improving its impact.
At IPAR, we rely on evidence to inform policy and to impact change through research and constructive policy debates and dialogues.
IPAR Rwanda’s visibility has increased both locally, regionally and internationally. The demand for IPAR’s services in private, public and civil society Institutions is increasing , and we are thus challenged to continually improve our research quality and sustain a good working relations with our major stakeholders like government, development partners, thinks tanks, universities and NGOs.
The demand of IPAR services is moving up both in the private, public sector and civil society.
“We are working with a number of think-tanks across Africa, and we currently chair policy institutes committee (PIC) under ACBF. We have a strong partnership with UNDP, , German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), African Capacity Building Fund, ‘International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Development partners and civil society institutions. We have evaluated government performance contracts for the previous three years. This has contributed to the achievement of our mandate as a policy think tank in the Country. We have further organized six high-level Annual Research Conferences that bring together national and regional researchers to dialogue on issues critical to national and regional development. This is in addition to a number of workshops and deliberative forums organized regularly to inform policy, and it makes us grateful that we are able to contribute to the well-being of Rwandans and to link policy makers and citizens for constructive policy debates. Through such platforms citizens get engaged with policy makers and their voices are always heard explains Ms KAYITESI
As regards Policy Analysis, the Director added that IPAR has in the past years assessed and evaluated a number of policies. We have concluded the evaluation of the 7YGP, we have assessed the impact of Imihigo both at the Central and local governments, we worked on innovative approaches to incorporating youth into labor markets and many more others and we provide feedback to policy makers for their action.
The Institution that aims at becoming an internationally recognized Centre on Policy Research in Rwanda and beyond, has created impact through research which have contributed to the development, planning, reshaping and implementing policies by relevant institutions. IPAR is committed to providing quality research and service that serve the purpose of the client and ensures relevance and impact in whatever product and services offered. We aim at assessing policy gaps wherever they may be and propose policy recommendations on how they can be closed.
The institution contributes to the policy-making process by bringing ideas of people, their views on the policies on the ground and the issues they are facing in the implementation process.
“For example, we did a research on street children for Kigali city, and we gave a number of policy recommendations on street children matters. In addition, we did several research projects on gender issues, agriculture, youth employment, climate change, flooding—how it can be controlled and its effects managed,” explains Kayitesi.
To respond to its mandate of developing research skills in Rwanda IPAR Rwanda in pattern ship with other five institutions in Rwanda (MINECOFIN, Central Bank, NISR, University of Rwanda and World Bank supported the development of Economic Policy Research Network (EPRN) The network with support from UNECA, ACBF, GIZ has Coached and mentored a number of young Economists in research and econometrics and in peer review of their research papers.
IPAR has further patterned with other universities across the globe, for instance Michigan State University to carry out a research project on how to control potato taste defect (PTD). We have partnered with Maastricht School of Management in Netherlands and recently University of Massachusetts Boston.
“We are looking at the trend where Rwanda is coming from and where it is now. Rwanda has managed to achieve most of its targets, for instance EDPRS1 was implemented successfully and now we are close to the end of EDPRS 2, and all the targets are being realized.
From my point of view, population is not a big issue; of course we should be mindful that it should be controlled but we should use it as an opportunity not as an obstacle. What has driven Rwanda’s growth is good leadership; we have had good policies in place, visionary leadership that gives the country the direction of where it should go and in all this research and the role of think tanks should be central for informed policies, which IPAR pledges to continually do even with future National development programs of EDPRS, Vision 2050, SDGs and even Agenda 2063.
As to where IPAR should be in the next five years, the director says the institute aims at becoming one of the leading think-tanks in the region, sustainable and influencing policy in the County and beyond.
“We intend to continue partnership with both national and international stake holders. Of course our major mandate is to contribute to the well-being of Rwandans. We will continue producing good quality research that informs policy making and help in the implementation of national regional and global development plans,” says Kayitesi.
IPAR is a registered independent, not-for-profit research and policy analysis Think Tank in Rwanda. It became fully functional in 2008 with the support of African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) and International Development Research Center (IDRC) and with initial start-up support from the Government of Rwanda.