Cultivate Africa's Future (CultiAF)

Cultivate Africa’s Future (CultiAF) is a four-year, CA$15 million research partnership running from 2013 to 2017, to support research for improved long-term food security in sub-Saharan 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 a programme brochure and one-page project summary documents);
  • editing of internal communications materials (six-month project updates, gender outcome stories and end of project briefs);
  • development of stories from the field, working with our African correspondents, and;
  • design of posters for each research team 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 to help the teams develop gender outcome stories and key messages alongside a gender training workshop; and a second on refining key messages and improving presentation skills to provide a practised and honed presentation prior to a one-day conference at the 2016 AGRF.

Communication impact

The impact of the presentation skills training was particularly evident when the scientists were commended by IDRC senior managers and conference participants 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

Whilst working with the projects on their six-month updates, gender outcome stories and end of project briefs, a series of ‘Stories from the field’ has been developed with our correspondents in Malawi, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe: