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FAO’s Extension, Education and Communication Service (SDRE) organised a regional workshop in Niamey (Niger) on the methodologies involved in designing and implementing national policies and multimedia communication strategies. The workshop’s principle objectives were twofold: to reinforce the impact of its fieldwork within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and to ensure the availability of the field tested and developed methodologies in the area of communication policies and strategies.

Most of FAO’s experiences were undertaken in the following ECOWAS member countries: Mali, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, Burkina Faso and Niger. In order to satisfy the ever-increasing demands made with regard to national communication policies, it seemed more logical to work on heightening awareness in the other countries in the same geographical area (fifteen countries with a total population of 230 000 000 inhabitants). In this manner, they were aware of the progress; the constraints and the lessons learned, through the experiences of the countries that had already commenced these activities, and were thus able to successfully develop their communication policies and multimedia communication strategies within the framework of development projects and programmes.

After ten years of support to the member countries in French- and Portuguese speaking Africa, the transfer of knowledge and the lessons learned proved to be useful, if not indispensable. This initiative is part and parcel of the Extension, Education and Communication Service’s mission, namely, the strengthening of national technical capabilities.

In ensuring the availability of the knowledge and know-how needed for designing and implementing national policies and sector-based strategies regarding communication for development, FAO is able to provide a modest contribution by means of the different manuals and case studies (in Mali, in Guinea-Bissau, in Burkina and in Niger), these were developed during the Niamey workshop. They are a contribution for the executive officers of both governmental and non-governmental institutions involved in the definition of national communication policies, in order to improve the design and implementation of communication policies and strategies, particularly with regard to rural sustainable development and food security.

Ester Zulberti
Extension, Education and Communication Service

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