Collaborate, Create, Communicate

Capturing stakeholder perspectives to enhance impact

When 255 stakeholders spread across three continents were tasked with designing a research program (in two short months) with the potential to effectively impact food security, nutrition, and income, they knew they had their work cut out for them. Especially, when you consider that it was logistically impossible to get all of them together in one room at the same time.

Such was the challenge confronting the team of collaborators responsible for developing the CGIAR Research Program (CRP) for Roots, Tubers and Bananas for Food Security and Income (RTB) last year. However, true to the collaborative spirit that underpins all the CRPs, stakeholder consultations were successfully carried out using both traditional face-to-face formats and online tools.

If you would like to know how they pulled it off, you can read all about it in a publication co-authored by collaborators from each of the four CGIAR Centers involved in the RTB Program: the International Potato Center (CIP), Bioversity International, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). Entitled, “Incorporating stakeholder perspectives in international agricultural research: the case of the CGIAR Research Program for Roots, Tubers and Bananas for Food Security and Income”, the case study describes the process used to engage stakeholders and incorporate their feedback into program design, with lessons learned and experiences that can serve others looking to replicate, adapt, or build upon this example.

Stakeholder input was gathered via regional workshops, on-line surveys, and one-on-one interviews. Our  Tania Jordan, one of the publication’s co-authors, helped setup online survey tool, SurveyMonkey, where over 150 people could provide detailed, novel, thoughtful – and highly useful ideas for the Program proposal.

“The survey was carried out in Spanish, English and French,” says Tania. “Although I was chiefly responsible for creating the survey and providing the team with technical support, I also made some suggestions regarding the actual survey questions, based on my previous experience with carrying out other surveys.”

The RTB Program team managed to easily communicate information about the Program and upload relevant documents through a public Google powered Site Tania helped setup and she also helped the collaborative process by instructing the proposal writing team on how to use Google Docs to write and review the proposal with people based at the different Centers. To learn more about the process involved, you can find lots of useful tips in a tutorial written by Tania: How can I write a proposals collaboratively?

I would like to extend my congratulations to the RTB Program for taking the initiative of documenting the experiences with the stakeholder consultations that resulted in this exciting publication, and to Tania for contributing to this successful collaborative process.