At the final workshop on Knowledge Management and Communications for the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food (CPWF) held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in December 2014, CPWF-Ganges communications officer Farha Khan presented the ‘river of life’ of communications in the Ganges Basin Development Challenge (GBDC). Portraying a long and steady river of publications and outputs over the lifetime of the GBDC, she became more animated when describing the major changes in approach that reflected what they were doing now and where they were still heading. Due to a later start than the others, the GBDC will not conclude until December 2014. The GBDC team used the extension opportunity to take stock of what they were doing. One strategy they decided to employ was the ‘animation’ of their activities to better reach the people who could use and benefit from the knowledge generated by the GBDC.
A ‘river’ in review
As Khan talked about the previous part of the ‘river of life’ of communications in the GBDC, it was obvious that it was represented by the collection of large ‘pools’ of knowledge products including brochures, posters, policy briefs, pamphlets, and more. But how effective were these products in reaching the various target groups that the GBDC aimed to influence and benefit?
Khan talked about a major turn that the GBDC ‘river’ took as it sought to understand how it could better disseminate knowledge.
Some key questions needed to be addressed so that products and activities could be prioritised and targeted. A fork in the river was encountered as the program sought to establish whether it was focused on knowledge supply or demand. The answer to this was two-fold: animate the process with more creative ways of supplying knowledge to suit the target groups and their way of accessing information; and engage with people in order to better understand their needs.
And a key component in the ‘animation’ of communications was to work together with others to disseminate knowledge and engage with a wide variety of actors. At this juncture of the river, Khan explained that the program was working with the Blue Gold-Delta program and other national programs; exploring mutually beneficial activities with the Ministry of Water Resources, WARPO and other Ministries; and taking integration forward with the new CGIAR Research Programs on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) and on Aquatic Agricultural Systems (AAS). Instead of multiple parallel rivers, the GBDC was trying to unite efforts across a number of players.
Where is the river headed now?
Khan excitedly described the GBDC communication activities that would take place in 2014. Key outputs such as working papers, land use maps, cropping system maps, basin summaries, and outcome stories would be disseminated to key stakeholders and decision makers. Although not new to the portfolio, the PowerPoint presentations, briefs and other products developed by the GBDC would now be specifically tailored to particular audiences, such as products for donors and products targeted at older members of the community.
Overall the program’s communication was now being driven by a focus on people and more engagement with stakeholders. In the spirit of animating their approach, the team has also devised a set of traveling seminars and discussions to take the science further downstream as well.
Filled with enthusiasm for the future plans of the GBDC communications, Khan was also very excited to learn from the experiments and experiences of the communications and knowledge management work of other CPWF basins and to apply those lessons along with the new ideas in the GBDC. She closed with the sentiment that “There will probably be many ups and downs along the way, but as long as it is taking us closer to the goal we will be happy!”
Blog piece written by Nadia Manning-Thomas (Independent Consultant) who was the facilitator of the CPWF KM and Communications River of Life workshop held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in December 2013. Blog based on a ‘river of life’ presentation given by Farha Kahn (CPWF-Ganges).