Strengthening youth capacity to climate change mitigation and adaptation

Verengai Mabika finalist in the 2011 Global Development Awards Competition – Japanese Award for the Most Innovative Development Project (MIDP), presented his project at the GDN’s 13th Annual Conference. In this video, he introduces the project and what it aims to achieve.

Development Reality Institute (DRI) has pioneered a catalytic and innovative capacity building programme for youth in Africa aimed at strengthening their capacity to effectively mitigate and adapt the effect of climate change in their communities. The program is a source of inspiration and a platform for experience sharing for the youth as they device solutions for climate change mitigation and adaptation. DRI project has three output areas which are:

  • Strengthening youth capacity to climate change adaptation and mitigation;
  • Strengthening institutional, legal and policy framework for climate change programming; and
  • Promoting innovative ideas in coping with climate change by harnessing and documenting indigenous knowledge systems.

DRI project fulfils its objectives through a Climate Change Virtual School, video conferencing and live streaming, Cool clubs, policy dialogue and knowledge management activities.

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Accessibility is Key: A journalist’s perspective on communicating research

Blog written and posted by Betty Allen on Research to Action

There have been a number of posts on Research to Action about researchers and journalists working together to communicate development research. Practical tips on how to target Journalists with your research through Twitter looks at the ways you can utilise social media’s ever-expanding reach to build up a following for your work. Friendship or Friction? Bringing journalists and researchers together highlights research as a valuable source for journalists and outlines practical skills that can build trust and collaboration between these two fields.

At a recent Global Development Network (GDNet) and African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) workshop on ‘Writing Policy Briefs’ in Nairobi, Kenya, a media panel was held for participants. One of the key speakers during this session was Nick Benequista, who worked for a number of years as a journalist writing on finance, business, economics and agriculture for Bloomberg news in Latin America.

Nick gave some great advice on how researchers can work alongside journalists to get their work into the public eye. He stressed that the most fundamental thing they should do is make themselves accessible, stating “If I have to call up your communications department to get authorisation to talk to you…I’m not going to call.”

He also emphasised the importance of academics working together with the media and outlined these key factors in making it this happen:

  • Think about media hooks – how to you connect your story to an event or story in order to make it travel in the news.
  • Be able to summarise your research quickly and succinctly.
  • Critical opinion is important, don’t sit on the fence and be specific with journalists as to how they should use your comments upfront.
  • Build good personal relationships with journalists and encourage open access and trust.
  • Do a made for media event through your institution to raise your profile (or if you cannot organise one yourself piggy-back onto another event).

Nick ended his talk with an element of caution, telling researchers that their research might not get directly into the media straight away but that it is just as important to draw attention to the issues behind your work, stating:

“A lot of the time researchers think that they are going to get their study quoted in the media, that’s unlikely to happen…Most of the time it’s your ideas that will get into the media.”

Watch highlights from Nick’s talk below:

GDNet & AERC: A fruitful collaboration?

AERC has from the beginning believed very strongly that research is not done for its own sake. Research is done in order to inform the policymaking process” stated Prof. William Lyakurwa, AERC Executive Director. However, to inform the policymaking process it is essential to make research available to policymakers in a language that they can understand. And this is what AERC is trying to do: break that barrier and speak to policymakers being the “end users”.

Mr. Lyakurwa also addressed the challenges in getting research and evidence based policy in Africa and highlighted the value added of the capacity building workshops held in collaboration with GDNet.

According to Dr. Samuel Mwakubo, Manager of the Research Department at AERC, the Research Communications Capacity Building Workshops held in collaboration with GDNet represent a very good opportunity for AERC to expose its researchers to the linkages between research and policy.

Dr. Mwakubo explored the academic background of most of the researchers as the main reason why they are keener to publish their research in journals and books rather than communicate it differently to policymakers. This is where AERC steps in to encourage its researchers towards a better and more effective research uptake.

To learn more about the measures AERC undertakes to encourage researchers to communicate with policymakers, watch the full interview:

A glimpse on the key challenges faced by researchers in communicating with policymakers

As part of the exercise to build the researchers’ capacities at the GDNet-AERC Policy Brief Training Workshop, I had the opportunity to interview some of the participants on a number of questions related to their research work.

Some of them talked about the challenges they face when communicating their research to policymakers, among which:

–          Ensure publication of the research and its dissemination among different policy actors

–          Necessity of being donor-driven

–          Ensure dissemination beyond academic journals and conferences

–          Establish contact and trust with journalists

–          Avoid political interpretation of research findings

Others were asked about their research findings and recommendations. The aim was to get them to present key messages from their research within 2 minutes.

Watch highlights from researchers presenting their key findings and recommendations below:

GDNet-AERC Policy Brief Training Workshop: Researchers sharing what they learned

Here I am again writing another post about the GDNet-AERC Policy Brief Training Workshop, held a couple of weeks ago in Nairobi, Kenya.

By holding a range of training events and producing training materials, GDNet commits itself to help southern researchers communicate their work better and more widely. Therefore, it is important for us to ensure that participants benefit as much as possible from our training workshops. During the workshop, I have had the opportunity to interview some of the participants about what they learned and how this would help them maximizing their research uptake.

Watch highlights from researchers sharing what they learned from the workshop below:

Policymakers addressing researchers at the GDNet-AERC Policy Brief Training Workshop

Communicating effectively is a key to increase the impact of research. This is why GDNet dedicates its Research Communications Capacity Building Programme to help researchers building their capacities in communicating their research effectively with their target audience.

Given that policymakers are the main target audience of researchers, an entire building block of the most recent GDNet Capacity Building Workshop – entitled “GDNet-AERC Policy Brief Training Workshop” and held in Nairobi on December 1-2, 2011 – was dedicated to hold a policy panel of three policymakers. The latter were asked to address the researchers about the practical challenges they face when trying to access and use research evidence for decision-making, the current policy opportunities for research on ICTs and economic development to both inform and influence public policy, examples where research has successfully engaged and influenced policy, key things that researchers should do and should not do to maximize research uptake, and how effective are policy briefs in communicating research to policy audiences.

Julius M. Muia ; Eric Aligula & Henry Rotich

Julius M. Muia; Eric Aligula & Henry Rotich

Following an overview of the role of the National Economic and Social Council (NESC) in initiating sustainable social and economic development policies in Kenya and to what extent the Council is involved in the policy formulation process, Mr. Julius M. Muia – Secretary at NESC – provided an outline of “Vision 2030”, which is about transforming Kenya into a newly industrializing, middle-income country providing high quality of life to all its citizens by 2030; and the role of ICT in economic development in Kenya.

As the main challenges policymakers face while accessing and using research evidence in decision-making, Mr. Muia stated the following: information explosion/overload on the internet; weak linkages with research organisations – there are 52 think tanks in Kenya; determining the credibility of a given research organisation & the real motive behind the research & findings (Profession? Association?); some research organisations prefer to engage in radical (warlike) advocacy through the media instead of positive dialogue; customising research findings to local context.

To maximise their research uptake, researchers should:

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GDNet-AERC Policy Brief Training Workshop – ICT and Economic Development Project

I am writing this blog from Nairobi, Kenya, where I am helping run another GDNet-AERC Policy Brief workshop held from 1-2 December, 2011. The workshop is the fourth in a series of research communications capacity building workshops which were held in collaboration with the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) over the past two years 2010-2011.

Workshop Photo

Workshop Group Photo

Entitled “GDNet-AERC Policy Brief Training Workshop”, the workshop was designed for a specific group of researchers who produced research papers for the AERC “ICT and Economic Development” Project. The objectives of the workshop are:

  • To build capacity and skills in communicating research to maximise its uptake and impact
  • To increase understanding of research to policy processes, and the role of Policy Briefs in this process
  • To improve understanding of the role of the media in communicating research, in order to be more strategic about media tactics in future
  • To produce an outline Policy Brief for each research project, to be finalised after the workshop with support from GDNet team
Arsène Nkama (Cameroon) & Prisca-Nadège Bibila-Nkouma (Congo)

Arsène Nkama (Cameroon) & Prisca-Nadège Bibila-Nkouma (Congo)

An entire session of the workshop will be dedicated to a Mock Press Conference during which researchers will present the key findings and recommendations of their research to an audience of journalists.

For more information about the workshop, follow us on Twitter @Connect2GDNet

More blogs about the workshop will be posted soon