Science and technology is an increasingly important area for African parliaments, which have to deal with complex issues ranging from controlling infectious diseases to the development of national science policies. With funding from the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, POST ran a programme to help African parliaments strengthen their capacity in this crucial area. The programme started in 2008 and ran until 2012. It is now being evaluated and results will be published in 2015.
Activities were centred on the Parliament of Uganda and included:
- Conducting detailed research to understand what challenges the Parliament of Uganda faces when dealing with science and technology. This research has resulted in the publication of a joint report by POST, the Parliament and Uganda, and the Ugandan National Academy of Sciences, with editorial support from INASP , on “The Use of Scientific and Technological Evidence in the Parliament of Uganda”. A press release can be found here, the report’s executive summary here and the full report here.
- Training parliamentary staff, to build their skills in providing reliable information on science and technology to their MPs. Staff have been given training on science communication, information literacy and summarising scientific information. Several Ugandan parliamentary staff have spent time in POST’s offices in the UK, with the additional support of the Commonwealth Fellowship Scheme.
- Building MPs' interest in science and technology, and strengthening their links with Ugandan scientists. The programme was instrumental in the launch of Africa’s first “MP-scientist pairing scheme” in Kampala in 2008, during which pairs of Ugandan MPs and scientists explored issues ranging from maternal health to solar electricity.
The lessons learned from the programme are being shared with many other countries in Africa and beyond. Further details on the programme can be obtained from the programme manager Dr Chandrika Nath.