The IWMI Wastewater KSinR Pilot project is focused on using knowledge sharing approaches to promote better use of wastewater in food production. This Pilot project recently published an article in the RUAF Regional Newsletter Urban AgricInfo Vol.2, Issue No.1, ISSN, March 2008, p 2-3.

See- Knowledge sharing on’Good Practices’ for Safer Vegetable production

The article highlights that in most urban centres in Ghana where no treatment for wastewater is available, most of this wastewater ends up in urban drains and water bodies- sources which are used by urban farmers to grow perishable vegetables. While this may have some positive livelihoods benefits, it has major health implications which must be addressed.

With many hard ways (e.g restrictions, laws etc) often failing to solve the problem, research from IWMI, KNUST and IDS have tried to find soft ways of addressing the problem in the form of ‘good practices’ for farmers and food vendors.

These ‘good practices’ (knowledge) however need to be carefully targeted at a variety of stakeholders and shared with them using various channels. Thus the intention behind this Pilot project to find and use knowledge sharing approaches to help promote safer wastewater use.

This article outlines one innovative knowledge sharing approach used in the project.

Using a World Cafe approach, the Pilot Project allowed various stakeholders to provide feedback and opinions in an a structured yet informal discussion format in small groups about the messages that had been developed from the research findings. The goal of the meeting was “to find out from farmers and street food vendors about the necessary framework for changing their behaviour to follow the key messages for health risk reduction“.

Groups of farmers in Accra discussing the tested methods for health risk reduction (31st October 2007)

Not only was the activity meant to increase awareness of the health related risks and to provide ‘good practices’ of health risk reduction, but it was also to allow the research team to discuss with the stakeholders (and thereby assess) the feasibility and adoptability of the “good practices”.

The conclusion of the article highlights that “the participants revealed that the current methods are used because they are not aware of the dangers associated with their practices. Therefore, they suggested that education of these ‘good practices’ should be increased to cover the majority of farmers and street vendors“.

The results from this World Cafe exercise have been helping to strengthen and format the messages on “best practices” and the ways for them to be disseminated to various target groups, with the aim of increasing adoption of these practices.

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One of the activities proposed by the IWMI Wastewater KSinR Pilot project was the development of an interactive radio program to extend the delivery of research results and messages to target groups. The radio program was targeted at farmers, traders (market women) and caterers-all users of wastewater in various stages of food production.

A script for the radio program was first developed by deriving key messages from results of various research projects working on wastewater issues in Ghana. Once the key messages to be broadcast were developed, these were translated into Dagbani, a local language in Ghana.

The radio program was designed to be interactive, using the following format:

  • jingle
  • introduction by program host
  • traditional music
  • drama
  • talk by host or agricultural extension agent
  • question and answer session
  • panel discussions based on call-ins
  • conclusions

This interactive radio broadcasting on wastewater use messages was recently held on 14th and 20th June 2008.

According to the leader of this activity, Gordana Kranjac-Berisavljevic “it went well.”

She reported back that “we discussed basically 5 key messages for safer use of wastewater where relevant to farmers, vendors and caterers in Dagbani, as well as the recommendations that came out of the World Cafe discussions about key messages held with target groups earlier, with Mr Ghanyu adding some useful advice as facilitator.”

As this is a new approach of dissemination for many research organisations, it is interesting to look at the challenges that may occur as well. Gordana explained that “The problem we found is that everyone talks too much, it was difficult confining them to a 1 hour frame“.

Dr. Pay Dreschel, IWMI researcher and Theme Leader in the Ghana office who oversees the wastewater work and champions the KS efforts within it, responded to this time issue saying “this type of chaos is often inevitable and can be reduced by developing before-hand a clear discussion line for the program“.

This radio program has been recorded and will be shared with others who may be able to use the program itself or learn from this experience for undertaking their own radio programs.

To follow-up on this activity in order to learn from the use of this type of strategy and see whether the messages were received, remembered and used, interviews with listeners will be carried out.

According to Pay “it will be interesting to get the listener feedback. Doing this some weeks later will have merit in terms of seeing if there is any longer-term memory or behaviour change impact from the radio program“.