Cultivate Africa's Future (CultiAF)

Cultivate Africa’s Future (CultiAF) is a three-year, CA$15 million fund supporting research to improve long-term food security in East and Southern Africa. It is a joint programme between Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).

In 2014, WRENmedia was contracted to provide wide-ranging consultation and support to CultiAF’s communication activities. In particular, we have been working closely with the eight research projects. This approach recognises that good communication is essential, not just for creating awareness about a project, but for helping it to achieve its overall goals and objectives, including real changes in the lives of the communities involved.

Our inputs have included:

  • communications training for project team members (senior research and communication staff);
  • production of publicity materials for the CultiAF programme (including one-page project summary documents and a programme brochure);
  • editing of internal communications materials (six-month project updates);
  • development of news stories from the field, working with our African correspondents, and;
  • design of posters for display at the IDRC one day conference held as a side event at the 2016 African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF).

 

Training

A one-week workshop held in March 2015 in Nairobi, facilitated by WRENmedia, provided training and support to the project teams in developing communication strategies, and included practical skills in photography and the use of social media (especially blogging and Twitter) for research communication. Teams also interacted with African science journalists, and were given tips and practical experience of being interviewed for radio and/or TV.

In 2016, we provided two further training days; one in May to help the teams develop gender outcome stories and key messages and a second in early September, prior to a one day conference at the 2016 AGRF, on presentation skills and refining key messages.

Communication impact

The impact of the presentation skills training was particularly evident when the scientists were commended by conference participants and IDRC senior managers for their sharp 5 minute presentations and the clarity of their key messages.

WRENmedia also tweeted live from the one day conference to stimulate a conversation using the hashtag #CultiAF. This coverage generated over 20,000 impressions in one day in addition to coverage provided by IDRC.

Stories from the field

With working with the projects on their six month updates, we have developed a series of ‘Stories from the field’ with our correspondents in Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.