Strengthening Grassroots Engagement in ARD Policy Processes

Organised by: NEPAD

The objective of this session is to understand better how ICTs can amplify the role and participation of grassroots communities in ARD policy processes. A study commissioned by the NEPAD Agency and funded by the CTA reveals that there are elements of a Community-Informatics approach to how ICT4D and ICT4Ag interventions are being implemented in Africa, even though the term Community Informatics may not have entered mainstream usage. The study also finds that most initiatives were not designed or are not being used to engage communities in policy processes. Using three real-world examples taken from Colombia, Sudan and Kenya, the session will challenge participants to unpack the elements that are essential for strengthening the participation of grassroots communities in ARD policy processes. The session will use a modified World Café format that will engage participants in conversations applying the CI framework (an output of the NEPAD-CTA study) to the three examples. This will help to determine the usefulness of the framework as well as identifying and addressing potential gaps and challenges. Participants will come away from the session with insights into how they can apply the CI approach to strengthen policy processes in ARD with emphasis on participation of grassroots communities.

Nov 5, 13:30 - 15:00
Room: Ruhondo
Stream: Enabling Environments


Bringing grassroots communities into ARD policy process

Community Informatics is an emerging area of practice concerned with ICTs in relation to the socio-cultural, socio-economic and service needs of communities. Wikipedia describes it as “…a cross- or interdisciplinary approach interested in the utilization of ICTs for different forms of community action, as distinct from pure academic study or research about ICT effects “.Addressing the challenges of food security and rural livelihood, requires the participation and active involvement of different type of stakeholders including grassroots communities.To this end, a multi-sectoral framework for linking ICT for development actors, grassroots communities, academia, policy makers and media is critical and was the basis for a study on the operational context of a Community Informatics Network for Africa. The study findings illustrate that there are several initiatives on-going in different regions and countries that are closely related to a CI-approach e.g. Telecenters, Living Labs, digital villages (pasha), Community Information Centers, Community knowledge centers,Maarifa centers etc. The study also confirms that most of these initiatives were not designed or are not being used to engage communities in policy processes and that grassroots participation in policy processes for agricultural and rural development (ARD) remains weak. This session will start to unpack the issue of grassroots participation in policy processes through a structured discussion focusing on: -the requirements for national, regional or continental platforms for dialogue and exchange between grassroots communities and other stakeholders-the use of ICTs to enhance multi-stakeholder coordination and collaboration-the policy issues that require grassroots involvement and the processes needed to enable grassroots participation-the role of universities, agricultural research institutions and extension service operations in raising the capacity of rural communities for policy advocacy-the positioning of existing initiatives as intermediaries to strengthen links between grassroots communities and other stakeholders

Organization : NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency

The NEPAD Planning and Coordination Agency (NCPA) was established to; facilitate and coordinate the implementation of continental and regional programs and projects; mobilize resources and partners in support of the implementation of Africa's priority programs and projects; conduct and coordinate research and knowledge management; monitor and evaluate the implementation of programs and projects; and advocate on the AU and NEPAD vision, mission and core principles/values.


Towela Nyirenda-Jere

Programme Manager - e-Africa Programme, NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency

#OSWARRAP: Open systems strategies linking FOSS & open knowledge to strengthen agriculture in Warrap State, South Sudan

In many parts of the world new civil societies emerging from shattering conflict and revolution are facing the challenge to (re)construct nothing less than entirely new nations. Urgent calls to define political participation, state identity, economic self-determination, basic freedoms and reconciliation among resolute opponents have transformed seemingly local conflicts into issues of global concern.

Considering this scenario in the age of social networks, collaborative enterprise and open technologies the #OSJUBA - Open Sourcing South Sudan Initiative is being developed to apply the methodologies of the world's diverse open source and open knowledge communities in creating rapid and innovative new forms of development in regions of lingering conflict and post-war society. Tackling the many challenges in creating stable peace and democracy, building viable and accessible infrastructure and enabling the empowerment of its civil society South Sudan, the newest United

Nations member state, has a unique window of opportunity to apply the power of open systems solutions to become the model of innovation and sustainability in Africa and beyond.

As a first step towards a comprehensive 'Open Systems Strategy' for South Sudan' the country's largest federal state Warrap has embarked on #OSWARRAP (Open Systems for Warrap State), as a model or pilot initiative to empower citizens, and strengthen peace and security through open source technologies and methodologies, open data and open government principles.

The Warrap leadership, faced with the challenge of 'leading over one million young pastoralists from past conflict into the 21st century' is intent to strengthen open governance and create peace and prosperity to the advantage of all its citizens. The use of ICTs and open data are intended to act as implementation triggers for the open systems projects being developed in and for Warrap State in order to see and effectively create viable examples of what can be done on the ground in one of the most challenging post-conflict and nascent civil society contexts.

In the development of the #OSWARRAP initiative, South Sudanese agencies and ICT organizations are examining various social media, mobile technology and community Informatics (CI) tools as key elements their open systems strategy. Given its ease of use, mobility and primarily non-text base interface, they will introduce ojoVoz, a rapid implementation FOSS platform consisting of mobile and web-side applications that help communities make their voices heard.

View the presenatation


Eva Yayi

IT Officer, Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO)

Addressing poverty through ICT-driven wealth creation

Farmers lack knowledge in engaging with their value chain starting with input requirements during production including harvest handling. As happens, even when farmers lose, they always trust and hope that things will be better next time so long as what was left after sale was enough for food. A big challenge is that farmers do understand the market; and rely on third parties who ensure that the system of measuring what farmers deliver to them is not accurate, resulting in losses at that level and hence more poverty for the producers. Information asymmetry between the market intermediary and farmers is the only tool the intermediary uses to exploit them, a big challenge when the potential for spoilage of the produce is high. Value chain income is therefore generated where the farmers do not operate, the result of which is that poverty remains a royal ally of the rural smallholder farmer. The biggest challenge is that when research, or government intervention, comes, those delivering the intervention normally have little understanding on the challenges. The end result is one more lesson of how not to intervene rather than helping the farmers. The government employee ends learning something new on how not to do what they did, calling for more research or policies creating more work in reading what failed rather than what succeeded. In the event some success is recorded, it is normally too little existing too far from what can empower the farmers, as most interventions do not happen at the farmer level. Blame is placed on the farmer's illiteracy. Even when ICTs solutions exist, interveners do not understand what ICTs can help, hence the potential to benefit farmers remains a mirage. The researcher, government intervener and farmer are in the boat of ignorance but each blames the other.

Organization : VACID Africa

VACID Africa is a social enterprise development organization that focuses on the development of value chain linked community enterprises for the integration of productive resource protection, production, and use by linking value chain related opportunities to markets using farmer created and owned agribusiness organizations that intersect along agricultural value chains that the producers engage with. We link with governments, ICT4D companies, investment organizations, development partners, and value chain focused agribusiness enterprises in a public private perspective using technology solutions whose adoption we champion.


Kiringai Kamau

Value Chain Analyst and Knowledge Specialist, VACID Africa

PGIS. A tool contributing to the empowerment and governance of communities for the benefit of sustainable development

Will be shared a research study, conducted in high mountain area, in South America, Colombia, Tolima Department.The ecosystems of Paramo in Colombia have an approximate extension of 1' 925.410 hectares, area which corresponds to 2% of the national territory, of which 746.644 hectares are found in areas of national parks. In Colombia, the paramo areas are threatened by industrial mining enterprises and the expansion of the agricultural frontier; the delimitation thereof, is a figure of protection.The objective of the research was to delimit theof Anaime and river Chili paramo complex (33.159 has), supported at SIGP through the integration of primary, secondary, information, local knowledge, mapping drives, construction of a model in 3D and software for the management of geographic information.The methodology was based on the combination of mechanisms of participation, as a rain of ideas, workshops, training, participatory mapping, and construction of a 3D model, as well as travel of field, with people in the community.Was generated a social profile mapping input of the delimited areaand a model in 3D, used by the community, for negotiation and proposal of the management plan of this area, which showed that the SIGP are useful tools in the management and integrated management of the territory, that contribute to the strengthening of governance and empowerment of communities.The SIGP facilitate the presentation of the knowledge of the local population, the increase of power and the inclusion of groups marginalized through education and participation in geographic technologies;they are a tool of power for marginalized communities whose opinion is usually ignored in planning processes.

Organization : Tolima University

The University of Tolima, is a public, coeducational, research university based in Ibagué, Tolima, Colombia.


Ligia María Mejia Díaz

Research Group of Basins, Tolima University