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ILRI ‘communications’ at the 3rd International Forum for Water and Food – Research gets social

Social media team with Ewen and Zerihun center

The International Water Management Institute (IWMI), the Food Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) and the Challenge Programme for Water and Food (CPWF) organized with much success the third International Forum for Water and Food, from 14 to 17 November 2011 in Thswane, South Africa.

The Addis Ababa Knowledge Management and Information Services (KMIS) team of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) sent four representatives to the Forum to organize a handful of activities:

  • As part of the wider team from different basins, social reporting (live documentation through various social media) of forum sessions and documenting the Africa Initiative session in detail, as well as contributing to the magazine developed by professional media;
  • Facilitation of various sessions during the Forum and its Share Fair: Learning to Innovate 1 (innovation platforms), Africa Initiative, Participatory Video, Happy strategies game;
  • Organizing a Nile Basin Development Challenge (NBDC) stand (a planned Komms Klinic stand was aborted for lack of internet and excess of lunch customers).

Throughout the event, the KMIS team ran around and worked late hours to contribute to an interactive and lively event that helped guarantee meaningful engagement for the 300 forum participants.

The NBDC stand featured posters from the different Nile projects, including a very popular poster about innovation platforms. Two technical reports were also distributed at the stand: one on the review of development of key national policies with respect to rainwater management in Ethiopia (prepared by the Ethiopian Economics Association) and another one on promoting improved rainwater and land management in the Blue Nile (Abay) basin. Seven briefs of the Nile were also distributed, all focusing on rainwater management in the Ethiopian highlands and dealing with a specific aspect.

On the other hand, the Komms Klinic stand did not take off. Participants used the stand’s space to have lunch around the high tables; while internet access necessary to show and tell the tools was not available. Nevertheless, the shared lunches probably represented an excellent form of communication.

The Forum’s facilitators were praised for their efforts publicly and privately by the forum organizers “You all played a major role in making the Forum run smoothly and allowing participants to share knowledge and have good discussions. Thank you for volunteering for the role and for taking it on in such an eager and professional way. We really appreciate your involvement-thank you!”.

Social reporting led the KMIS team to develop seven blog posts, produce 10 videos, upload over 20 Powerpoint presentations and contribute some 300 tweets of the 1500 generated throughout the Forum. The Share Fair sessions on participatory video and the Happy strategies’ game were also well attended (registering respectively some 35 and 20 participants during lunch time, in parallel with eight different sessions).  The social reporting work was the focus of one of the articles of the ‘Water and Food News and View’ (the magazine run by the journalists invited) titled “New media revolution – innovative research needs innovative communication”. The social reporting team (generally) was also praised on Twitter:

The active engagement of the KMIS team helped address one of the main conclusions that the Forum brought to light: “research has to work hand in hand with communication.” In this respect, we helped make research get social.

The ILRI KMIS people at the forum were Meron Mulatu, Peter Ballantyne, Ewen Le Borgne and Zerihun Sewunet.

Discover the materials developed by the team:

We are indebted to our Nile Basin colleagues who willingly allowed us to video, audio record and photograph them in various poses and roles; we also greatly appreciated the collaboration with the Forum’s social media and communications colleagues who joined with us in this satisfying enterprise!

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