Over the course of July, FAO and the SHARED Decision Hub held a two-part webinar training series to build the skills of country project teams in enhancing policy and institutional engagement within their projects
Designing and implementing integrated approaches for enhancing sustainability and resilience for food security is all about getting the right information to the right group of people at the right time.
Unfortunately, this is not as simple as it sounds.
The challenges surrounding food security and natural resource management in Africa are complex, involving a wide range of actors, mandates, and priorities that often compete and conflict. Within government, there is often a lack of cross-sectoral communication, knowledge exchange, and collaboration between different ministries, private sector actors, local communities and development partners.
Resilience-building efforts are further challenged by the information and data gaps that exist due to limited investment in data collection, capacity gaps, lack of funding, and poor quality control. In the absence of accessible information and usable evidence, actors within both public and private spheres are often tasked with establishing strategies and action plans without a strong evidence base.
To assist RFS country teams in strengthening the connection between science, policy and institutions from the national to the local level, FAO has partnered with the SHARED Decision Hub to help improve the engagement of RFS country project teams with policy and institutional processes. The SHARED Decision Hub is a collective of multi-disciplinary specialists who work with governments, programmes, and development partners to shift the status quo towards a more human-centred, evidence-based decision culture. So far, the SHARED framework has been successfully applied in over 17 countries, predominantly in Africa.
During the month of July, the SHARED team conducted a series of interviews with all RFS project teams to gain a better understanding of the bottlenecks and gaps around policy engagement and use of evidence for decision making. These interviews formed the basis of a two-part webinar training series to introduce country project teams to the SHARED framework and associated tools and methodologies. The webinars introduced a systematic approach to influencing policies and decisions using the SHARED method, focusing on five thematic areas: (1) stakeholder mapping and influence; (2) deepening relationships; (3) policy engagement; (4) applying evidence; and (5) evidence for influence. Each webinar was held in English and in French to ensure the training was accessible to all country project teams.
During the webinars, the country projects teams were able to engage with Victor Lekeram, Director of Planning for Turkana County Government in Kenya. Over the span of their six-year partnership with the SHARED Decision Hub, Turkana county has applied the SHARED methodology and tools to help facilitate the county’s integrated development planning (CIDP) process. “With the first CIDP, we weren’t able to see concrete results,” Victor commented. “Yes, we could see projects coming up here and there, but seeing the impact was quite difficult. With the second CIDP, we are able to see impact on a quarterly and annual basis, which is based on evidence.”
Using the SHARED framework to develop the CIDP, the Turkana team was able to ensure that all relevant stakeholders were incorporated into the planning process, resulting in a development plan that was fully aligned with local realities. “When you involve a lot of stakeholders, you get a lot of consensus building and you get a lot of buy-in,” Victor told the RFS country projects.
Not only were the RFS country projects able to learn from the experience of Turkana county, they were also able to share lessons and experiences of how they have engaged stakeholders and influenced policies within their own project. Anthony Kariuki, Project Coordinator of the RFS Kenya project, shared the Upper Tana Nairobi Water Fund’s approach to ensuring the sustainability of the project’s outcomes: “There were clear mandates across agencies, but there was a gap of who would actually take care of the watershed from a scale perspective,” said Mr Kariuki. “For this to be sustainable, we would have to explore something new. In order for private actors, public actors, and farmers to participate in the same platform, we created a “trust”—a public good platform.”
This trust is key to the project’s exit strategy. Funds that are raised for the Upper Tana Nairobi Water Fund during the project’s lifecycle are invested in the open market. The interest that accrues from that investment will fund the operations and activities of the fund after the initial project funding ends. “We are bringing in resources that already existed but are now channelling them into a shared governance space,” said Mr Kariuki, explaining that the fund has allowed the project to secure the human and financial resources necessary to continue activities beyond the project lifecycle.
The lessons and experiences that were shared by RFS country projects during the two webinars provided valuable insight into how the SHARED tools and methods can be applied in different contexts and for different objectives. Following the webinars, the SHARED team and FAO will be following up with the country projects for longer-term engagement and technical support to implement the work areas outlined in the training. The SHARED team is also developing a tailored Toolkit, which will expand upon all the topics and tools covered within the training and case studies from the engagement interviews and will be published by FAO in September.
If you missed either training session, you can watch recordings of the webinars and download all training materials and presentations on the event page.
For more information on the SHARED Decision Hub or the training series, please contact:
FAO: Anne Sophie Poisot, Lillian Goredema, Stefano Mondovi
SHARED Decision Hub: Sabrina Chesterman, Constance Neely, Mieke Bourne
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