Taking our communications to the next level? – Reflections from the Farming First and IFPRI workshop

My reflections from the Farming First and IFPRI communications workshop!

Maarifa - Communications and Knowledge Management

I recently attended a one-day workshop for communicators organized by Farming First and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) prior to IFPRI’s 2020 conference on “Building Resilience for Food and Nutrition Security” in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The training was given by senior communicators with expertise in communications planning, media pitching, content development, social media management and online advocacy the workshop enabled participants’ capacity to communicate on topics related to food security, sustainable agriculture and resilience.

The workshop brought together more than 30 young communicators working in the agriculture, sustainability and resilience areas from different parts of the world—Africa, the Pacific, Europe and Asia.

Farming First and IFPRI Training Workshop for Communicators

Here are a few things I learned from this workshop:

  1. How to build communication strategy: We need to be clear what our organization strategy is and focus on the reasons we do it. We should always start with our policy objectives. Measuring, both quantitatively and qualitatively…

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Organizational learning and knowledge assets

A Knowledge Asset is an explicit managed resource which supports organisational decision-making and action. It contains synthesised, validated and organised knowledge.

Knowledge Assets consist of guidelines, set within business context, enlivened by stories and quotes from experience, and linked to people and documents for further investigation. The role of knowledge assets in knowledge management is to provide the means by which one team or person can transfer their knowledge to many teams or people, separated in time and distance. Although the most effective mechanism for knowledge transfer is face to face; this is not always possible to arrange. Your knowledge management system should provide the means to transfer knowledge between people, even if the timespan between capture and use is years. A knowledge asset can usefully be hosted on a Wiki or in a Knowledge Base.

There’s some confusion and discussion around the term “knowledge asset

A Knowledge Asset is a single set of documents, or a single document, containing compiled, structured and validated guidance on a specific area of practice.

  • The key aspects of Knowledge Assets are that they are
    • Validated (by a process owner, practice owner or CoP)
    • Collated (from many sources)
    • Structured (in the most useful way for the reader)
    • Contain Guidance – tells the reader how to perform a task or a practice. They are Know-How, rather than Know What. So Wikipedia is not really a Knowledge Asset.
  • Knowledge assets are likely to include
    • Process documents
    • Guidelines
    • Checklists
    • FAQs
    • Templates
  • Knowledge assets will not include
    • Project documents (unless they are selected by the practice owner as being a very good example that others should follow)
    • Contracts (unless they are selected by the practice owner as being a very good example that others should follow)
    • Cases (unless they are selected by the practice owner as being a very good example that others should follow)
    • Lessons learned
    • Job descriptions

Knowledge Assets

  • Could be on a wiki (supported by a folder where linked files can be kept)
  • Could be on a portal (with different parts of the asset being files in the portal e.g. guidelines, templates, examples)
  • Could be a document
  • Could be a book

Could be expressed as

  • Procedure
  • FAQ
  • Checklist

Could be structured by

  • Practice/topic taxonomy
  • Steps in a workflow
  • Knowledge assets may be linked to training material

Knowledge Asset on its own is not a complete Knowledge Management solution. Far from it. The Knowledge Asset can codify, structure and store the core explicit guidance, but can never capture everything you need to know, at every level of detail.

Source: Knoco

Methods for organisational learning

Learning Before, During and After (LBDA) (Collison and Parcell 2001):

The LBDA model is deceptively simple yet can have powerful effects. It is a knowledge management method with an explicit learning purpose that can be applied to any activity. The purpose of the LBDA approach is to avoid the reinvention of existing knowledge by

creating knowledge ‘assets’ which can be accessed by anyone in the organisation. The main features of the LBDA method are illustrated in the Figure below.

Learning before is facilitated by having a shared understanding in the organisation of ‘who knows what’ and by a process called ‘peer assist’, which is a meeting or workshop where people who are thought to be experienced or knowledgeable about an issue are invited to share their experience and knowledge with an individual or team facing a particular challenge, for example designing a project or planning an advocacy campaign.

Learning during can be helped by a system of after action reviews (AARs) that bring colleagues together after a specific event to discuss what happened, why it happened, and how to sustain strengths and improve on weaknesses.

The learning after is captured by learning reviews leading to the agreement of specific actionable recommendations (SARs). The LBDA model Communities of Practice form a crucial part of the process which focuses on interpersonal relationships but these are supported with ICT, such as databases.

Knowledge Management/Sharing Toolkit «Sharing Knowledge and Learning»

1.      Knowledge Management approaches

  • Taxonomies development
  • Process for critical knowledge Identification
  • Processes for knowledge harvesting
  • Concept mapping
  • Diffusion, transference, utilization of captured knowledge

2.      Methods for Knowledge Management

After Action Review Knowledge Map
Brainstorming Knowledge Network
Briefing and Debriefing Lesson Learnt
Collegial Coaching Mentoring
Community of Practice (CoP) Open Space
Exit Interviews Peer Assist / Peer Review
Experience Capitalization Story Telling
Facilitation SWOT
Good Practice Visualisation
Knowledge Fair World Café
Expert yellow Page

More on: http://www.kstoolkit.org/KS+Methods

3.      Knowledge Sharing tools

  • Knowledge databases
  • Content/document management systems
  • Search engines
  • Portals/Intranet
  • Wikis/blogs
  • Skill/competency databases
  • Communities of practice
  • RSS
  • Social Bookmarking
  • Social Networking Site
  • Wikis

More on: http://www.kstoolkit.org/KSTools

Social Media 101: How To Leverage Popular Social Media Tools For Your Organization

Social Media Landscape

Picture: fredcavazza

Social Media is a collection of technology tools that facilitates interaction and conversations. When you find the platform that best helps your organization achieve its communications objectives the goal is to create and cultivate relationship with people, online and in the real world, based on shared values and mutual benefit.

I would suggest to create a social media strategy which includes what you want to obtain using it. Also a posting scheduling for each social media tools. Explore other similar organizations to evaluate if you have time to execute it. Also join groups, or social bookmarks to get results that you can take advantage and gradually polish your proceedings. I think planning is crucial to know your objectives, goals and limitations.

There are a wide range of social media tools organizations can use to get more interactive — to communicate and exchange information with their stakeholders.   Don’t try to use EVERY tool you see, find a few you like and work for you and learn to use that tool perfectly to get the best results. Try to devote a single goal to each social media tool and define your target audiences.

Social media is one tool in an overall communications/KM strategy. It can strengthen an organization’s existing communication efforts by making them more immediate (for example, a nonprofit can react to current events through social media, tailoring its message to be timely and relevant to constituents). It can open a channel to a new audience, potentially gaining new support for the organization, or helping people the organization does not reach through its programs or more traditional communications. It can facilitate communications, particularly if the organization’s target audience is already comfortable with social media tools. And it can allow an organization’s constituents to communicate—with the organization, and with one another—on their own terms.

There are a wide range of social media tools organizations can use to get more interactive — to communicate and exchange information with stakeholders.

  • Blogs
  • Microblogs
  • RSS
  • Photo sharing
  • Podcasting
  • Social news and bookmarking
  • Social networking
  • Video Sharing
  • Collaboration tools
  • Online communities
  • Location services

Blogs: They are a tool that allows for a conversation between the reader and the writer, and for information to reach people quickly all over the world. Though not as easy to build as mini sites, with a bit more effort, blogs provide a powerful platform for you to publish content and share it with the world. They are interactive in nature and allow you to run and manage a website that can be updated with new content easily without having to worry about the design and code of your site.

There are many reasons for people to blog nowadays. Blogs have been used:

  • as a way to express personal opinions.
  • as a marketing tool.
  • as a communication tool for organizations.
  • as an educational/e-learning medium.

What Blogging Platforms To Use

Worpress: http://wordpress.com/

  • Open Source Software: WordPress is an Open Source software which allows it to be used free of cost
  • User Friendly: You don’t really have to be experienced to use WordPress on your website
  • Large community Support: There is a large user community backing the development of this software.
  • Much easier for content writers.

Other Blog platforms to consider:

Blogger: http://www.blogger.com/home

Microblogging: It is essentially a short text, picture, or update about something that a person or an organization wants the world to know. More people are getting their news from micro-blogging sites like than from the traditional news outlets because this new practice is instantaneous and concise.

What Microblogging Platforms To Use

Twitter: https://twitter.com

For nonprofits or any other organization, a Twitter account can complement their other communications efforts and reach audiences in the method in which they are looking for information.
It helps drive traffic to your website and blog

  • It provides you with many professional/organizational contacts
  • It gives you information quickly about what is going on in the nonprofit or any other world
  • It teaches you new ideas, concepts, and skills
  • It alerts you to hot topics
  • It allows you to share your own enthusiasms such as causes you want to support, great content you want others to know about, and news you think people should care about.

Other Microblogging platforms to consider:

            Yammer: https://www.yammer.com/

RSS: Why RSS? Benefits and Reasons for using RSS

RSS helps you to easily create and distribute news feeds that include links, headlines, and summaries.

Manage your RSS feeds by using ‘Feedburner’ (web feed management tool): Google Feedburner is an RSS feed generator service from Google. It provides custom RSS feeds and management tools to bloggers, podcasters, and other web-based content publishers.

It’s good because it has an e-mail subscribing option and good statistics about readers. By using Google Feedburner, you can find out statistics like: How many people have subscribed to your RSS feed; Who’s re-posting your feed; Which links are clicked on, etc…

Other web feed management tools to consider:

            FeedBlitz: http://www.feedblitz.com

Mailchimp: http://mailchimp.com/ (RSS to E-mail)

Google alerts: http://www.google.com/alerts (Monitor the web 4 ur content)

Photo Sharing: There are lots of different photo sharing sites available on the web, each with their own unique tools. However, most photo sharing sites allow you to:

  • Backup your images; Make your images searchable – via titles, tags and descriptions you can easily make your images easy to search and categorize.
  • Share Your Images – publishing images on photo sharing sites allows you to share them with the world. Other users can browse, view and comment on your images.
  • Publish your images in private if you wish


What Photosharing Platforms To Use

Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/

Flickr is the best way to store, sort, search and share your photos online. Flickr(pro) helps you organize that huge mass of photos you have and offers a way for your organization to tell stories.

Other photo sharing platforms to consider:

            Picasa Web Albums: http://picasaweb.google.com/

Podcasts: Podcasting offers you a powerful way to share your voice, your creativity, your thoughts, and an opinion that needs to be heard or whatever else you can create.

  • Podcasting attracts people who want the ability to choose their own content (much like using the Internet), instead of the TV and radio model of broadcast where you tune in and select from one of the programs playing.
  • Podcasting is an easy and powerful way to communicate your ideas and messages. You can potentially reach anyone who is searching for podcasts and subscribes to your stream.
  • Podcasting is a powerful and easy way to reach a focused audience. It allows you to easily reach a focused and loyal audience. It’s very rewarding to share something you create and to your stakeholder benefit from it.


What Podcasting Platforms To Use

Podomatic: http://www.podomatic.com:

It is a website specialized in the creation of tools and services that enable users to easily find, create, distribute, promote and listen to both audio and video podcasts. It gives the user what they want: control & convenience (portable, on-demand, time-shifted, etc.)

Social News and Bookmarking: Social bookmarking and social news offer organizations additional ways to promote their websites and web pages. The real benefits of social bookmarking occur when you’re able to direct this interest to your website. One of the fastest ways to get your websites found and indexed by search engines is to use social bookmarking sites.

What Bookmarking Platforms To Use

del.icio.us: https://delicious.com/

A social bookmarking site, helps you organize materials of interest by tags and descriptions — for your future use and to share with stakeholders/users.

  • Delicious is more than just a tool for keeping your materials organized. It draws on the power of the crowd to extend its strengths.
  • Once you start tagging your URLs, you can get more out of delicious than what you put in to delicious.

Other photo sharing platforms to consider:

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/

            Digg: http://www.digg.com/

Social Networking: Websites that allow online users to connect and share information with other online users. More and more organizations are leveraging social networks to promote their brands and services and to connect with their stakeholders.

  • Social networks can be a great way to enhance knowledge. Tapping into one’s social network can allow for people to fill an information gap if members of their extended social network have deep subject matter expertise in a certain area.
  • Social networks allow people to expand their connections around specific topics. This first appeared with the rise of Usenet and bulletin boards, where members formed communities around specific topics and has now expanded into the social networking realm, where people can find out more about people who are most like them.

What Social Networking Platforms To Use

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/

Facebook provides a virtual pathway  for the public and key stakeholders to connect personally with nonprofits or other organizations. The Facebook “wall” is where it all happens. This is where you write comments on what you are up to or share photos and articles with your friends.

  • Facebook Pages include functions that allow organizations to promote their work by posting mission statements, news, contact information, details on upcoming events, and other items related to their work. Quick and widespread dissemination of information to the Facebook community is useful when spreading the word about events and activities and for increasing attendance at conferences, workshops, and volunteer opportunities.
  • Facebook can be used as a data collection, online surveys, social tracking and social listening.
  • Use Facebook’s Questions feature to poll your followers for their opinions.

Other social networking platforms to consider:

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/

Google Plus+: https://plus.google.com/

Video Sharing: Video sharing allows users to upload and share videos to video sharing website such as Youtube.  Other users can watch the videos, comment on them, share them with other users and even embed them on their own websites and blogs.

Video sharing helps organizations to educate and inform the public about an issue.


  • Access to a large community of users that are highly engaged with the content they are consuming.
  • Methods for delivering your message and protecting your work in safe environments.

What Video Sharing Platforms To Use

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/

  • Access to a large community of users that are highly engaged with the content they are consuming.
  • Methods for delivering your message and protecting your work in safe environments.

Other social networking platforms to consider:

Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/

            Blip.tv: http://blip.tv/

Collaboration tools: Web 2.0 collaboration tools can help team members in multiple locations communicate smarter and faster with each other. The tools also can help you work closer with partner organizations and stakeholders.

  • Conduit for interaction, discussion, communication between people
  • Gaining access to read what another person has written
  • Searching for relevant ideas, expertise, and people
  • Discovering relevant ideas, expertise, and people

What Collaboration Tools To Use–Wikis, Google docs, and web conference tools

            Wikis–Wikispaces: http://www.wikispaces.com/content/frontpage

It’s an ‘online’ shared community space

Google docs: https://drive.google.com/

Web-based word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, form, and data storage service offered by Google.

Online communities: Online communities are social network focused on a specific audience or topic. Online communities create relationships with the members. This can help get information rapidly disseminated, as well as increase page views or organization views through word of mouth.

  • Content: articles, information, and news about a topic of interest to a group of people.
  • Forums or newsgroups and email so your community members can communicate in delayed fashion.
  • Chat and instant messaging so your community members can communicate more immediately.
  • There are also two types of management styles for your community elements: managed these elements are usually maintained by a staff member on the Website or a contractor hired to maintain the community.
  • User created content allows the community to evolve to fit its needs more directly.

What Online communities to Use

NING: http://www.ning.com/

NING is an online service that allows users to create their own social networks and join and participate in other networks. NING is a place where you organize events, communicate in forums, post photos, and interact socially.

Other social networking platforms to consider:

            Groupspaces: http://groupspaces.com/

            Dgroups: http://dgroups.org/

Location services: Using Location–based services, your organization can tap into that on-the-go social media advocacy and making it easy for your stakeholders to spread the word about your work.

How can nonprofits begin to use geotagging to benefit our community?
Mobile volunteering; Twitter advocacy; Geo-location games and Community mapping.

Foursquare: https://foursquare.com/

The best advice about getting started with social media comes from George Bernard Shaw:

“If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.”

You will learn by doing and sharing what you learn. I believe that holds true for organizations as well as individuals. Sure, you’ll make mistakes, or devote too much time to the wrong “outpost” but, eventually, by continually sharing, you and your organization will “get it”. That will lead to more effective social engagement.”

(This isn’t a complete list, it is what I think is important to start deploying social media tools for the first time)

Source: Me + the Internet

Reporting and communication help power FAO agriknowledge ShareFair in Addis Ababa

Maarifa - Communications and Knowledge Management

In October 2012 the Knowledge Management and Information Services (KMIS) team at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Addis Ababa worked day and night to help make a success of an AgriKnowledge ShareFair ‘Towards Food and Nutrition Security in the Horn of Africa.’

The Horn of Africa has suffered several droughts in the last 10 years. Each time, governments, the international community and NGOs agreed that long term measures were needed to prevent another tragedy.

In October 2012, FAO and other partners convened an ‘AgriKnowledge ShareFair‘ that brought together people from fifteen countries from Africa’s most drought prone regions to address recurrent droughts and chronic food insecurity in the Horn of Africa. They discussed and shared good practices and ways to scale them.

The event took place on the ILRI Ethiopia campus; it also received substantial organization and communication support from ILRI.

Ideas for the event germinated in…

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Fish and aquaculture for improved food security and livelioods

AgriKnowledge ShareFair

Many fishing communities live in the world’s poorest countries; they are often marginalized and landless. As fishing is often the livelihood of last resort and fish often the only source of animal protein for the poor, the state of the world’s fisheries can be critical in the fight against poverty in many parts the developing world including Sahel and East African countries.

Today’s AgriKnowledge ShareFair in Addis Ababa convened a panel session to discuss the roles of fisheries and aquaculture in food security and nutrition.

Facilitated by Eshete Dejan and Ana Menezes, participants discussed three cases: Uganda – Mukene fishery development and human consumption for farmer field approach; Ethiopia – GIS based suitability ponds for Tilapia production; and Kenya – Strengthening Fish Production through Adoption of Improved Aquaculture Technology in Western Kenya.

Damp smoked fish wrapped in newspaper in Côte d'Ivoire

In Uganda, fish are among the most significant natural endowments of Uganda, not only because of their…

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A place for the SUN? Scaling Up Nutrition in the Horn of Africa

AgriKnowledge ShareFair

At today’s AgriKnowledge ShareFair in Addis Ababa, Bibi Giyose (Senior Food Security and Nutrition Advisor at the Africa Union) facilitated a panel session on the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement.

SUN is a country-led movement that brings organizations together across sectors to support national plans to scale up nutrition by helping to ensure that financial and technical resources are accessible, coordinated, predictable and ready to go to scale. The SUN movement promotes the implementation of evidenced-based nutrition interventions, as well as integration of nutrition goals into sectors including health, social protection, development and agriculture.

At the center of the movement is national level leadership that coordinates both national and international efforts, with the SUN movement aligning financial and technical support with country plans. Leadership at the national level ensures that priorities and programs are designed and implemented to meet the needs of regions and populations within the country and to…

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