Although substantial amount of nutrition research is conducted in Africa, the research agenda is mainly donor-driven. There is a clear need for a revised research agenda in Africa which is both driven by and responding to local priorities. The present paper summarises proceedings of a symposium on how evidence can guide decision makers towards context-appropriate priorities and decisions in nutrition. The paper focuses on lessons learnt from case studies by the Evidence Informed Decision Making in Nutrition and Health Network implemented between 2015 and 2016 in Benin, Ghana and South Africa. Activities within these countries were organised around problem-oriented evidence-informed decision-making (EIDM), capacity strengthening and leadership and horizontal collaboration. Using a combination of desk-reviews, stakeholder influence-mapping, semi-structured interviews and convening platforms, these country-level studies demonstrated strong interest for partnership between researchers and decision makers, and use of research evidence for prioritisation and decision making in nutrition. Identified capacity gaps were addressed through training workshops on EIDM, systematic reviews, cost–benefit evaluations and evidence contextualisation. Investing in knowledge partnerships and development of capacity and leadership are key to drive appropriate use of evidence in nutrition policy and programming in Africa.