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New mobile project to tackle malnutrition in Africa and Asia

Spotlight from ILRI news -

Lucy Wangeci Kuria_bw_

Lucy Wangeci Kuria of Kenya with her cow and her phone (via Flickr/Jeff Haskins).

A CABI-led consortium has gained GMSA funding to help three million people access nutrition information using mobile technology.

More than three million people in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia will soon be able to access vital nutrition and health information using mobile technology as part of a new project to help tackle malnutrition – a leading cause of child death worldwide. The GSMA Mobile for Development Foundation has appointed a CABI-led consortium as the global content provider to the mNutrition initiative – a UK Department For International Development (DFID)-funded project that aims to improve the nutritional status of more than three million people. The initiative will tackle malnutrition and help beneficiaries to access nutrition-based agricultural and health information using mobile technology.

The consortium comprises CABI, BMJ, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and Oxfam GB. The consortium was established earlier this year to harness the power of mobile phones and help millions of poor women and their families to access, and act on, sound nutritional information and advice. The group brings together world-class expertise in agriculture, health and nutrition, as well as a strong presence in the 14 target countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where the project will be rolled out later in 2014.

Malnutrition is the largest single contributor to child mortality worldwide and a hugely important issue that needs tackling urgently. According to UNICEF, it is estimated that undernutrition contributes to the deaths of about 5.6 million children under the age of five each year, and that good nutrition has strong economic implications too. When populations are well nourished, higher individual productivity, lower health care costs and greater economic output will ensue.

The CABI-led consortium will work in each country together with partners such as content providers, extension service providers, governments, mobile operators, NGOs and private sector companies, to help deliver nutrition related information via mobile phones. The consortium will also link mNutrition services to existing programs and on-the-ground services, for example, agricultural extension and community health services, bringing together the mobile services with face-to-face advice.

‘In Africa and Asia, the proliferation in mobile technology means we can now reach people in even the most remote locations with essential agricultural and health advice,’ says Fraser Norton, program manager at CABI. ‘Mobile services are becoming a vital link in the advisory chain, bridging an information gap that conventional public extension can’t span. Mobile technology is the future of delivering knowledge to those who need it most. We’re delighted that our consortium has been chosen to be the content provider in such an important mobile initiative.’

About the consortium

CABI is a not-for-profit international organization that improves people’s lives worldwide by providing information and applying scientific expertise to solve problems in agriculture and the environment. www.cabi.org

BMJ is a healthcare knowledge provider that aims to advance healthcare worldwide by sharing knowledge and expertise to improve experiences, outcomes and value. For a full list of BMJ products and services, please click here. BMJ Media Centre.www.bmj.com

The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) is an international organization launched at the UN (Special Session on Children in 2002) to tackle the human suffering caused by malnutrition. We act as a catalyst – bringing together governments, business and civil society – to find and deliver solutions to the complex problem of malnutrition. www.gainhealth.org

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) works to improve food security and reduce poverty in developing countries through research for better and more sustainable use of livestock. ILRI is a member of the CGIAR Consortium, a global research partnership of 15 centres working with many partners for a food-secure future. www.ilri.org

Oxfam is an international confederation of 17 organizations networked together in more than 90 countries, as part of a global movement for change, to build a future free from the injustice of poverty. www.oxfam.org.uk

African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) Call for Applications for 2015 AWARD Fellowships

Beca news -

Established in 2008, African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) was launched following a successful three-year pilot program in East Africa supported by the Rockefeller Foundation from 2005-2008.

AWARD is a career-development program that equips top women agricultural scientists across sub-Saharan Africa to accelerate agricultural gains by strengthening their research and leadership skills, through tailored fellowships. AWARD is a catalyst for innovations with high potential to contribute to the prosperity and well-being of African smallholder farmers, most of whom are women.

AWARD Fellows benefit from a two-year career-development program focused on fostering mentoring partnerships, building science skills, and developing leadership capacity. Following a highly competitive process, the fellowships are awarded on the basis of intellectual merit, leadership capacity, and the potential of the scientist's research to improve the daily lives of smallholder farmers, especially women.

Since its inception, AWARD has received applications from more than 3,500 women for a total of 390 available fellowships. On average, only the top nine percent of applicants are selected each year.

To date, 390 African women scientists from 11 countries (Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia) have benefited directly as AWARD Fellows.

AWARD partners with more than 200 organizations and institutions, including many national institutes of agricultural research.

For more information on eligibility, visit the AWARD website

To apply online for the 2015 AWARD Fellowships now on-line, click here.

See FAQ for more details.

National policy for climate-smart agriculture: insights from Brazil, Ethiopia and New Zealand

CRP 7 News -

The concept of “climate-smart agriculture” is gaining greater visibility in international policy circles. For example, this week in The Hague, the Dutch government will convene senior government officials to gear up for a major launch of the Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture at the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit in New York City in September.

One of the leading objectives of this Alliance is to promote the integration of climate-smart agriculture (CSA) into national policy. But what does it mean for CSA to become embedded in a country’s policy framework?

This is the central question of a new report on “Integrated National Policy Approaches to Climate-Smart Agriculture: Insights from Brazil, Ethiopia, and New Zealand” published this week by the CGIAR program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security.

In the absence of clear international policy signals and strong global agreements, countries are figuring out how they can achieve a “triple win” of climate change adaptation, mitigation, and food security based on a pragmatic understanding of their unique economic, environmental, and institutional context.

The three countries profiled in this study have pursued integrated policy approaches for agriculture and related sectors. They differ dramatically in the size of their populations, economies, and land base, as well as their farming systems and political structures, yet for all three, agriculture is a critical component of international trade, climate change mitigation potential, and national culture. All three countries are pursuing agricultural development that relies on greater crop and livestock productivity rather than agricultural expansion or increasing livestock numbers.

In the case of Brazil, a nation that has experienced dramatic socio-economic and environmental changes in recent decades and is a major player in international commodity markets, a series of national policies have demonstrated a stewardship commitment for globally significant carbon and biodiversity reserves. Brazil has invested in research to support sustainable intensification while creating legal and enforcement mechanisms to protect forest areas as a response to unrestrained agricultural expansion driven by market demand.

In Brazil, national policies have been designed to preserve forests and enhance biodiversity

photo: Neil Palmer (ciat)

With high economic growth rates and the potential to be a major regional hydropower supplier, Ethiopia is already experiencing climate changes and an urgent need to tackle low agricultural productivity, land degradation, and poverty. With its innovative participatory watershed development initiatives and its Climate-Resilient Green Economy Strategy, Ethiopia is marshaling national and international funds toward land restoration and low-carbon development.

Ethiopian national policy is targeted towards land restoration and low-carbon development

Photo: Icarda 

New Zealand is an agriculture-dependent developed country already experiencing significant economic impacts from climate change, which has weaned itself from agricultural subsidies to encourage adaptation. In the first nation to include agriculture and forestry in its national emissions trading scheme, New Zealand’s farm sector is gaining experience in monitoring and reporting agricultural GHG emissions, making investments in public-private research into sustainable agricultural intensification technologies and practices, and seeing major gains in emissions intensity.

New Zealand's farm sector is gaining experience in monitoring and reporting agricultural emissions

photo: sarah macmillan 

Governments can select from an array of policy instruments ranging from regulatory mechanisms to economic incentives to public investments and educational campaigns to promote CSA. The report emphasizes the importance of changing policies that discourage CSA adoption before introducing new incentives to counteract negative policy signals.

Multilateral agencies, global donors, and international conventions and trade agreements can send clear, consistent signals that promote agriculture as a central part of the solution for climate change, unsustainable resource use, and food insecurity.

The new CCAFS report follows up on recommendations made in 2012 by the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change, which proposed seven major strategies including integrating food security and sustainable agriculture into global and national policies.

Two more things you need to know about sex-disaggregated data

CRP 4 program news -

Fields India

Photo by BAIF Foundation, Maharastra, India. Source: Flickr (Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security)

This month we’re continuing a conversation we started in May with two gender researchers from the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM). Cheryl Doss, an economist at Yale University, and Caitlin Kieran, Senior Research Assistant on gender for PIM at the International Food Policy Research Institute, tell us a bit more about the contribution of sex-disaggregated data in agriculture, nutrition and health research. If you missed the first post on sex-disaggregated data, you can catch up here.


Question #4:  What are some typical causes of error, and resulting consequences, that you have observed over the years in sex-disaggregated data collection and interpretation? Do you have any tips to share with our readers on how this can be avoided?  The most common problem in collecting sex-disaggregated data is that researchers add a few questions or interview both men and women without considering the research question that they are trying to answer. This results in two problems. First, the data collected ends up not being appropriate and researchers may not be able to answer the relevant research questions. Second, while researchers provide some descriptive statistics on men and women, they do no further analysis. The time and resources spent collecting the data are wasted because they were simply an add-on, not a part of the core research. Good qualitative data collection and analysis before the quantitative data collection begins can identify key areas in which sex-disaggregated data are needed to answer the research question and can identify ways in which understanding gender relations may alter the hypotheses to be tested.


For example, in one survey, our original intent was to interview the main farmer and his or her spouse about land ownership and production issues. With this information, we planned to analyse how land ownership affects productivity and how this differs for male and female farmers. But, the individual level questions were dropped from the farmer survey. Instead, the main farmer was asked only about household-level land ownership and production. The second person, who was not the primary farmer, was then asked about his or her individual rights over land.


In another survey about women’s empowerment in agriculture, a man and a woman were interviewed in each household. Unfortunately, their relationship was not linked to the information in the household roster. We would expect that the attitudes of a woman’s father would have a different impact on her empowerment than those of her husband. But it was impossible to identify these differences without the information on their relationship to one another.


Question #5:  Can you give an example from your own research when your use of sex-disaggregated data led to a significant “a-ha!” moment that was surprising, either for the research team, a program implementation team, a policy maker, or some other decision maker?  In the Gender Asset Gap Project, we collected sex-disaggregated data on asset ownership and control in Ecuador, Ghana, and Karnataka, India. We had expected that when women owned land, they would be more involved in agricultural decision-making.  And while this pattern generally holds, it varies across location, agricultural decision, partnership status (whether the woman is married or in a consensual union), and the type of ownership (whether the land is owned individually or jointly with someone else). For example, in Ecuador our results suggest that land rights may give women the opportunity to opt out of agricultural production as their primary activity, as many of these women are not involved in the decision over what to cultivate, yet they remain involved in decisions about the income generated from their plots. It is important to recognize that not all women (or men) who have land rights necessarily want to be involved in agricultural decision making, but the income generated as a result of their land rights may enhance their ability to pursue alternative activities.



This post is part of a blog, the Gender-Nutrition Idea Exchange, maintained by the CRP on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health. To add your comments below, please register with Disqus or log-in using your Facebook, Twitter, or Google accounts. You must be signed-in or registered in order to leave a comment.

The Case of Soybean as Agricultural System Connector

CRP1.2Program news -

At the beginning of its establishment, the Humidtropics Innovation Platform of the Kiboga and Kyankwanzi districts in Uganda identified the following commodities as important components of the main farming system: maize, soybean, agro-forestry and livestock (both districts selected poultry and piggery, and in Kyankwanzi, cattle was added as it is part of the wider cattle corridor in Uganda). With more »

The post The Case of Soybean as Agricultural System Connector appeared first on Humidtropics.

Forages project wins 2014 CGIAR-US university linkages proposal through Livestock and Fish program

CRP 3.7 News -

Sustainable intensification of crop-livestock systems through improved forages’ is this year’s CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish and US university linkages winning proposal. The proposal was submitted by Birthe Paul and Rolf Sommer, scientists from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and supported by Claudio Stockle of Washington State University. Other CGIAR collaborators are An Notenbaert and Brigitte Maass, CIAT scientists and Ben Lukuyu and Alan Duncan, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) scientists.

The proposals submitted were reviewed by four research leaders drawn from the Livestock and Fish Program partner centres, ILRI, the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), WorldFish and CIAT. The winning proposal ranked highest on the following weighted criteria; contribution to program priorities, potential to leverage new funding, engagement wof multiple centres, promotion of cross-centre and cross-CGIAR Research Program collaboration, value for money, leverage of new expertise and potential for strategic partnerships.

According to the proposal, ‘Tropical forage technologies have been promoted in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) for sustainable intensification of crop-livestock systems. However, there are few studies from sub-Saharan Africa quantifying impacts on natural resource management. The main deliverable is a quantitative review of productivity and environmental impacts of improved forage technologies in sub-Saharan Africa and their uptake which will set the scene for the subsequent analysis.

‘The core of the proposed activities is cooperation with Claudio Stöckle, Professor at Washington State University and creator of CropSyst. The collaboration will calibrate CropSyst for selected forages, support ongoing work on adding inter-cropping to the functionalities of CropSyst and apply it in case studies in the region. Impacts of baseline and improved livestock diets will also be modeled with the CSIRO hosted ruminant model. The main deliverable for this activity is a set of case studies on environmental impacts of forages currently tested on-farm in Tanzania.

CropSyst is a widely-used cropping system model to simulate the growth and yield of crops in response to soil and climatic conditions under a range of environmental effects including soil C dynamics, N2O emissions, N leaching, soil erosion and soil water dynamics. It is well calibrated for many food crops, but less so for fodder crops.

Filed under: CIAT, Crop-Livestock, CRP37, Feeds, Forages, Partnership, Research, Southern Africa, Tanzania

Realpolitik–Nairobi ‘Community of Practice’ communicators get real practice impacting policymakers

Spotlight from ILRI news -

 Johanna Lindahl 'pitches' her aflatoxin research to a policymaking panel in a Dragon's Den session

A community of practice for communications staff in research and development organizations (DevComms CoP) based in Nairobi participated in a ‘Science Communications for Policy Impact’ workshop following a conference, ‘Landscapes for People, Food and Nature’, at ICRAF on 3 July (photo credit: ILRI/Susan MacMillan).

A group of communications professionals working in agriculture, research and development in greater Nairobi have been meeting every year or so for the last four years. Communications staff of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) have hosted most of these gatherings in the past. This year the gatherings have taken a ‘self-educational’ turn under the leadership of Abby Waldorf, a communications professional based on ILRI’s campus in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where she coordinates work for an Agriculture and Ecosystems Blog of the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems. In March 2014, Waldorf worked with ILRI staff to organize two communications training workshops (in Addis and Nairobi) on ‘Blogging for Impact’ (see WLE blog article and ILRI blog article, the latter with links to resources recommended).

Waldorf more recently worked with communications staff of ILRI and the World Agroforestry Institute (ICRAF) to organize a  workshop on ‘Science Communications for Policy Impact’. It was held last week (Thu, 3 July 2014, 2–4pm) at ICRAF.

The workshop was a side event at a conference on Landscapes for People, Food and Nature in Africa, also hosted by ICRAF. The conference brought together some 200 African government officials, researchers, civil society leaders and private sector actors to generate an ambitious agenda to advance ‘integrated landscape initiatives’ in Africa. Given the conference’s goal of influencing policy, Waldorf and her communications teams at ILRI and ICRAF saw an opportunity to bring together Nairobi’s science communication professionals and the many policy wonks attending the conference.

The aim of the workshop was to give science communicators an opportunity to hear directly from policymakers about what works—and what doesn’t—about the communications materials and activities they tailor for policymakers. To this end, a Dragon’s Den session was conducted, with four scientists pitching their agricultural research to a panel of professionals engaged in policymaking processes; the latter then critiqued the research pitches, giving pointers on what, and what not, to do when engaging with policymakers.

All four of the brave scientists who volunteered to pitch their research to the policy panelists (and be publicly skewered in the process) were women (ahem). Hats off to them, including Johanna Lindahl, a Swedish post-doctoral scientist in ILRI’s Food Safety and Zoonoses Program. Lindahl pitched innovative ways to reduce levels of toxins poisoning Africa’s food chains. Aflatoxins are a mould that infests groundnuts, maize and other staple food crops as well as milk, which is contaminated when the dairy cows of  smallholder farmers are fed crop wastes contaminated by the mould. Read more about her research here.

 Johanna Lindahl 'pitches' her aflatoxin research to a policymaking panel in a Dragon's Den session

ILRI post-doc Johanna Lindahl pitches her aflatoxin research to the policy panel (photo credit: ILRI/Susan MacMillan).

The panel members comprised the following (truly ‘illustrious’) members.

 Policymakers Alex Awiti, East African Institute of the Aga Khan University (Kenya); and CJ Jones, One Acre Fund microinsurance (Kenya)

Policymakers Alex Awiti, director of the East African Institute of Aga Khan University (Kenya); and CJ Jones, CEO of ACRE (Kenya) (photo credit: ILRI/Susan MacMillan).

Alex Awiti
Alex Awiti, a Kenyan ecosystems ecologist, is director of the East African Institute of the Aga Khan University, a regional platform for policy-oriented research, public engagement and capacity building, and assistant professor in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. His research focuses on education, conservation, agriculture and food systems, population health, climate change, urbanization and natural resource governance. Awiti maintains an active blog (Advancing Global Sustainability) and Twitter account (@AlexAwiti) and writes regular op-eds for leading East African newspapers. He sits the on the board of the Resilience Alliance and is Africa editor for the Environmental Development journal. Before joining Aga Khan University, Awiti was a postdoctoral fellow at the Earth Institute at Columbia University and a landscape ecologist at ICRAF.

Edmund Barrow
Edmund Barrow, an Irish community-based natural resources and drylands expert with over 40 years of experience in Africa and globally, is director of the Global Ecosystem Management Program of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and is based in Nairobi. This program embraces IUCN’s work on drylands and islands, adaptation and disaster risk reduction, and the evolving IUCN Red List of Ecosystems. Barrow has extensive practical working experience with community-based natural resource and wildlife management and sustainable development (agroforestry, participatory natural resource and forest management) in different ecosystems (dryland and forest ecosystems in particular) and places much effort on capacity building and empowerment. His work has increasingly focused on the links between people’s livelihoods and their natural environments. He places emphasis on participatory approaches to environment and livelihood security and on customary and local knowledge and institutions. He has been collaborating with ICRAF (he told us), since ICRAF was located in Bruce House, in Nairobi’s Central Business District, which was many years ago!

CJ Jones
CJ Jones, from Australia, was until very recently country director and senior regional manager for private sector engagement with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), in Nairobi. She is now CEO of ACRE, a new micro-insurance think tank and product development initiative for smallholder farmers. Agriculture and Climate Risk Enterprise Ltd. (ACRE) helps reduce the burden of weather and other risks for small farmers. An experienced strategic thinker, business leader and entrepreneur, Jones builds relationships and delivers strategy at executive levels across range of sectors in challenging markets. She has extensive experience in African agricultural and business forums, leading market entry, acquisition, due diligence and business structuring assignments in both the private and development sectors. Follow CJ Jones (@ismicj) on Twitter.

Odigha Odigha
Odigha Odigha, a Nigerian forest activist and educator, leads a campaign against devastating industrial logging in the forests of Cross River State in southeastern Nigeria. These are the last remaining rainforests in Nigeria and are home to 2,400 native forest communities comprising 1.5 million people and the highest primate diversity on the planet. Odigha is part of Cross River State’s Ijagham community. He grew up admiring the richness of the rainforest, only to see the majority of it decimated by the early 1980s. Since 1994, Odigha has focused on the protection of the Cross River Rainforest and on sustainable development for rainforest communities. Despite enormous odds (he was forced to live ‘underground’ in the 1990s), Odigha has forged historic victories in the fight to protect Nigeria’s forest. With a democratic government now in place, Odigha has returned to his public role leading forest protection campaigns. His work has resulted in representation for Nigerian civil society in all forest management policies, including a statewide logging moratorium to protect the country’s remaining rainforests. In 2003, Odigha was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize.

Ayodele Olawumi
Ayodele Olawumi, from Nigeria, is assistant director in charge of monitoring and evaluation for the Great Green Wall Programme and environmental officer in the Federal Ministry of the Environment, in Abuja. Also known as the ‘Great Green Wall of the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative’, this is a pan-African project to ‘green’ the continent from west to east by planting a wall of trees across Africa at the southern edge of the Sahara desert. It was developed by the African Union to address land degradation and desertification in the Sahel and the Sahara. Aiming to tackle both poverty and soil degradation, it focuses on a strip of land of 15 km (9 mi) wide and 7,100 km (4,400 mi) long, from Dakar to Djibouti.

 Policymaker Olawumi Ayodele, Great Green Wall Programme (Nigeria)

Policymaker panel member Olawumi Ayodele, of the Great Green Wall Programme (Nigeria) (photo credit: ILRI/Susan MacMillan).

Do’s and Don’t’s
What follows is the gist of what the policy wonks had to say about our efforts to ‘pitch’ a bit of research to them.


  • Be clear, crisp, accountable.
  • Put a story behind your facts.
  • Present your solution as doable.
  • Spell out why they should care about it.
  • Know your audience.
  • Do the research you need to do to know who you are speaking to.
  • Find out what they care about.
  • Be perfectly clear about what you are asking for.
  • Make every word count (tweeting is good discipline for scientists).
  • Speak policy, e.g., talk numbers (economic value, annual cost, etc.).
  • Tell them how much your project will cost (and how much not doing it will likely cost).
  • Combine your numbers with your passions.
  • Get personal.
  • Engage your audience.
  • Talk about what they care about.
  • Insert soundbites that perfectly suit (short) election cycles.
  • Think about incremental shifts that politicians can talk about at the next election.
  • Know your audience.
  • Think from your audience.
  • Make sure everyone has the same understanding of the terms (e.g., ‘hunger’) that you use.
  • Engage your audience.
  • Employ ‘soft skills’ (as important as your message).
  • Be patient: you are in the business of building up steam (or chipping away, as in the Berlin Wall).
  • Know whether you are speaking to bureaucrats (who dream up policies) or politicians (who enact them).
  • Connect your ‘ask’ to the bigger picture (e.g., not ‘landscape initiatives’ but ‘jobs creation’).
  • Be prepared to sustain your engagement with policymakers.
  • And—know and engage your audience.


  • Present problems too big for policymakers to solve (not interested in those).
  • Use generalist terms that present unmanageable ‘asks’ (e.g., solving hunger); rather, reduce your ask to bite-size pieces (no one research project is going to solve ‘hunger’).
  • Paint the bigger picture first so they see how your project serves big (global) ambitions.
  • Never, ever, underestimate the power of soft skills (or their lack): how you dress, stand, walk, talk, make eye contact (or don’t), smile (or don’t smile). . .
  • Speak down to your audience (e.g., earnest, pontificating, moral, righteous, ‘you ought to’ kind of talk).
  • Talk to policymakers before you have done your homework on them.

Other policy advice

  • If no one uses your science, it’s as good as nothing.
  • If you can’t explain your science to a policymaker, you aren’t going to do any science that’s going to make any difference to anyone.
  • Make and use maps of champions and influencers in your area.
  • This (research for development) can be a very unkind, unforgiving business: Get used to it (and use it).
  • Science is not going to solve the problems of the world.
  • Make your objectives bite-size rather than aspirational so that policymakers have something they could begin tackling this month.
  • Know where the real policy power lies, as it’s not always (or usually) with the politicians or policy wonks themselves (e.g., you might be better off making your case before ‘the First Lady’ rather than the president).
  • Get rid of your disabling notions about policymakers (and they might just get rid of their disabling notions about scientists).
  • When you talk to a policymaker, don’t assume you’re the only expert in the room (see The Guardian‘s Top 20 things scientists need to know about policy-making (2 Dec 2013).
  • Annihilate over- and undertones of ‘we smart scientists’ ‘we aid workers saving the world’; they’re demeaning to your audience. (And not true.)

 Odigha Odigha, environmental activist (Nigeria); Ed Barrow, IUCN Global Ecosystems Program (Kenya); CJ Jones, OneAcre (Kenya)

Four of the five members of the policymaker panel (left to right): Odigha Odigha, award-winning environmental activist (Nigeria); Ed Barrow, director of IUCN’s Global Ecosystems Management Program (Kenya); CJ Jones, CEO of ACRE (Kenya); and Alex Awiti, director of the East African Institute of Aga Khan University (Kenya) (photo credit: ILRI/Susan MacMillan).

Other policymaking communications channels
As few of us in the research or development worlds will make statements before panels of eminent policymakers, the next session of the workshop invited inputs as to other channels we can use to reach and influence policymakers. These include:

  • Op-eds and letters to the editor (300 words or less)
  • Community organizations
  • Social media (blogs, tweets, LinkIn news)
  • Short Web-published multimedia products
  • Parliamentary sub-committees
  • Newspapers and magazines (mainstream and specialized)
  • Television and radio
  • Science presentations at conferences and workshops where policy types are present
  • ‘Downtime’ at formal meetings (coffee breaks, bus rides to the hotel, field trips, etc.)
  • Working directly with champions of work in given areas
  • Breakfast/lunch roundtables mixing journalists with politicians, policymakers, technical experts, and clients
  • Field walks (people are moved by what they see/experience)
  • Kind of sexy timely chatter that gets picked up at cocktail parties or goes viral online (e.g., plays World Cup idiom right now)
  • Adverts
  • Advocacy campaigns

If you’re a communications professional in the agricultural, research or development communities in Kenya, we invite you to become part of our vibrant local professional network, which we’ve recently dubbed ‘DevComms’. Please shoot an email to ILRI’s Angie Nekesa (a.nekesa [at] cgiar.org) to be included in our mailing list. That will ensure you get an invitation to the next DevComms gathering/event.

For more information about the event itself, contact WLE’s Abby Waldorf (a.waldorg [at] cgiar.org), ICRAF’s Daisy Ouya (d.ouya [at] cgiar.org) or ILRI’s Muthoni Njiru (m.njiru [at] cgiar.org).

Comment please!
If you participated in this DevComms CoP workshop, please add any other advice given in the comment box below. And if you weren’t at the event, please give us your own suggestions there!


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