Learning for policy makers

Learning for policy makers - a Peer Assist

In a Peer Assist facilitated by Meena Arivananthan (ICT-KM/WorldFish), FAO staff shared their experiences on how they’ve worked to translate global climate change models into adaptation activities at farm-level in Bangladesh, and asked workshop participants for their input.

Stephan Baas, Claudia Hiepe and Selvaraju Ramasamy described the basic project Livelihood Adaptation to Climate Change in Bangladesh. FAO had conducted the baseline assessments and knew that farmers were aware of climate impacts but did not know the origin or how to systematically deal with the impacts. The demand for new activities was there and action in the field had to meet that demand. Under the project, FAO developed a suite of communications materials and processes targeted at different stakeholders, from the farming/community level, national/local (i.e. extension workers and NGOs) to the international realm, including climate change negotiators. Tools included an e-learning CD-ROM for extension officers, as well as visual learning tools for local farmers, briefs and reports for policy-makers and many more.

farm level communications materials

farm level communications materials


  • too much material? Is there a simpler way to work with all of these groups without producing so many outputs?
  • How to translate this local learning into higher-level policy making – adopting technologies and
  • How to institutionalize this issue without it being an additional burden on resources?

Suggestions from audience

  • extract key principles for adaptation
  • communications products need to be tailored to context
  • sell the ideas to senior bureaucrats/institutional leaders – if context allows
    FAO staff share their experiences

    FAO staff share their experiences

    • or the team that supports leaders – build capacity for these people to feed information to the heads
  • have the beneficiaries of change be the advocates, i.e. the front-line extension workers
  • be clear about the specific policy change that you want to achieve – and look for points of resistance
    • in theory the issue of adaptation has been taken up but no specific policy instruments. It’s been response-oriented – we need to move towards more pro-active policies, by moving to level below in terms of land tenure, water pricing/management,
  • at farm level,
    • use household flags which are raised after capacity building has taken place. the flag has some symbol of the objectives/elements of adaptation. Can serve many purposes, i.e reminding people of their commitment, and inducing neighbours to get trained
    • using free movies in community theatres
    • marketing characters
    • a tee-shirt with a communication objective printed on it
    • children’s education – training future generations
  • international policy-makers: think about how they learn, their needs
    • easy to read materials in appropriate language
    • physical presence: face-to-face briefings and workshops
    • address demand, rather trying to create demand
  • look at media that are popular in the area, i.e. radio. Feedback from external sources
  • think about how words are translation: different words i.e. drought, sustainability, may not be easily translated, may not convey the right message