Over 300 agricultural research projects in Africa are mapped

Ongoing Research Map in Africa demonstration

An initiative has now mapped over 300 of the world’s ongoing agricultural research projects in Africa. Evelyn Katingi, the map coordinator, says this represents ‘an 86 per cent coverage of information from all 15 centres of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), the world’s pre-eminent group of agricultural research-for-development specialists.’ Katingi leads this initiative at the Nairobi campus of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

‘CGMap Ongoing Research in Africa’ is the result of a collaborative effort between two CGIAR programs: Collective Action in Eastern and Southern Africa and ICT-KM (Information and Communication Technologies—Knowledge Management). The map makes information about research projects across Africa and the CGIAR consortium accessible to staff, partners and other key stakeholders in African agricultural research.

Information in the map is contributed by CGIAR scientists, who provide details of their projects, including time frame, location, key players and partners involved and contact information.

Started in 2007, this project provides an interactive way of viewing all projects that the 15 CGIAR partners are involved in, allows one to search and find out more about on-going projects and provides links to key players in agricultural research in Africa and beyond.

According to information collected from the map, 21 per cent of reported projects focus on crops, 14 per cent on policy and institutions, 10 per cent on livestock, 5 per cent on land management, 4 per cent on soils and 2 per cent on fisheries.

Most of the projects currently mapped are being conducted in East Africa, with 120 projects in Kenya, 91 in Uganda and 87 in Tanzania. But coverage of other countries, especially Ghana, Nigeria and Zambia, is growing.

A new version of the map launched earlier in the year is attracting increasing numbers of visitors, and thus generating concomitant increasing opportunities for greater collaboration.

The CGIAR demonstrated the use and utility of the CGMap to participants of a Science Week and General Assembly of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) held 19-24 July 2010 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

Visit http://ongoing-research.cgiar.org/ for more information or to learn how you can contribute to the research map.

ILRI workshop trains staff in social media for research communication

Research communications and Local Content workshops

A workshop on ‘Africa Learning and Exchange on Local Content, Social Media and Agricultural/Rural Knowledge Sharing’ opened on the Nairobi campus of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) last week.

From Monday through Wednesday, 5–7 July, the focus of the workshop was on ‘Research Communication’ and participants, who included ILRI staff and communication practitioners from research and non-profit organizations from Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, were trained on use of social media tools in research communications. Participants also shared their experiences of using these tools.

The research communication workshop taught participants how to recover and disseminate research, identify and counter bias in search tools and use social media/web 2.0 tools and skills and approaches. Participants gained hands-on experience in working with wikis, creating blogs and adding content, using social bookmarking tools, such as Delicious, and using feeds to organize information from different web resources.

Participants also identified the challenges and opportunities offered by social media tools in Africa. They used a participatory wiki to document and share the workshop proceedings and edited and produced short video clips highlighting their views of the workshop.

Evelyn Katingi, a research coordinator with ILRI, said the workshop helped her ‘appreciate the value of social media tools in better organizing my work.’ She added ‘I look forward to using these tools in my work and in training others how to use them.’

A second part of the workshop, held 8–9 July, focused on sharing experiences of using modern online communication, social media and digital tools in gathering and sharing local African content. Participants included community radio hosts and managers, social workers and trainers who also explored how digital and online output from their organizations in Africa can be combined and promoted externally. The participants developed a shared understanding of how these tools and approaches can best be adapted to the African context to promote knowledge sharing.

Output from this week-long workshop, which was organized by ILRI and a Dutch-funded initiative, Emergent Issues in Information and Knowledge Management (IKM) and International Development, known as the IKM Emergent Research Programme, will inform preparation for an AgKnowledge Africa ShareFair that will take place at the ILRI campus in Addis Ababa in October 2010.