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

Most of FAO’s experiences in the region have been in the following ECOWAS member countries: Mali, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, Burkina Faso and Niger. In order to satisfy growing demand for assistance in formulating national communication policies, we decided to focus on awareness-raising in the other 15 countries in the region (a total population of 230 million) so that they could learn from the experiences of the first five. In this way, they can develop communication policies and strategies within the framework of development projects and programmes.

This workshop in West Africa illustrates a core function of FAO’s Extension, Education and Communication Service (SDRE) – the strengthening of national technical capacity. Lessons learned and knowledge gained from ten years of support to member countries in French- and Portuguese-speaking Africa have proved invaluable.

Manuals and case studies developed during the Niamey workshop, and which reflect experiences in Mali, Guinea-Bissau, Burkina Faso and Niger, constitute FAO’s modest contribution to regional resources for designing and implementing sector-based strategies for communication for development. They are written for executive officers of both governmental and non-governmental institutions involved in the definition of national communication policies, and are designed to help improve the design and implementation of these policies and strategies, especially in the context of sustainable rural development and food security.

Ester Zulberti
Extension, Education and Communication Service

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