By Haitham El Khouly
For Africa’s health, economic growth and poverty reduction welfare
Africa is a wonderful, beautiful, exciting continent and offers amazing experiences and adventures. However, these experiences are often slowed down by health issues along with concerns of economic growth and poverty.
As the gap between the rich and the poor continues to grow in the continent, so do the numbers of people fall through the cracks finding themselves homeless, and neglected.
AERC in partnership with GDNet and CommsConsult arranged a two days workshop in Kenya. The workshop focused mainly on approaches that researchers would undertake in order to better communicate research to their target audience to maximize uptake and impact.
Researchers hailed from almost all over the “Motherland” African continent countries. Chad, Ghana, Guinea, Burkinafaso, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Nigeria, Togo, Cameroon, Republic of the Congo, Botswana, Uganda, Benin, Malawi, Sierra Leone and of course Kenya; the host country along with Egypt represented by me and my dear travel mate and colleague Ms. Zeinab Sabet.
Day 1 started with a brief intro and a warm welcome from AERC representatives; Prof. Damiano Manda and Dr. Innocent Matshe. “Communications is one of the most overlooked things in your lives”, Dr. Matshe expressed his concern for such a fact. He stressed that “communicating” is generally ignored and for a successful approach to culminate, communicating must be implemented.
For AERC, poverty is one of the main objectives to study. As health is very much affected by poverty, it is again a topic that should be clearly discussed. In doing so, workshop participants are encouraged to raise their concerns they encounter in their receptive researches to shed more light on such challenges that would serve the cause.
Mrs. Megan Lloyd Laney; CommsConsult Director and workshop facilitator took over to declare the opening session and commencement for Day 1 activities. Mrs. Megan stressed on the workshop’s main focal objectives. Objectives included how to increase the understanding of communications with targeted audience, build capacity and skills of researchers and produce a concise “policy brief” for each research project.
After the opening session came the fun part! Participants interviewed each other discussing their concerns, success stories and challenges they face and “secrets nobody else knows about them”. Answers varied; “having a second wife”, “head scratching when angry”, “biting nails when nervous” and “better than Adebayor in football”…etc.
Afterwards, participants discussed the importance of “quality communications” and how it must be present to deliver better “research quality” to have a clear and concise impact. To do so, there was a focus on policy briefs as smart communications tool.
A policy panel session followed. This session was chaired by 3 speakers; Mr. Eric Aligula (Programme Coordinator at Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis “KIPPRA”), Ms. Elizabeth Kimulu (Social Sector Director, National Economic and Social Council) and Mr. Henry Rotich (Deputy Director, Economic Affairs; Kenya Ministry of Finance). The panelists discussed the key factors that influence their policymaking decisions and thinking.
The last activity was a hands on practical exercise for participating researchers reflecting their “take on” from the day. Furthermore, the operational actions they perceive to be undertaken for better research messages.
After the sessions, there was an enjoyable Cocktail evening, a fresh cool breeze by the pool during this time of the year known as the “wet season” in the Masai homeland; Kenya.