How Country Advisory Groups are helping achieve Sentinel's objectives

Valerie Kalinso, Copperbelt University

Crosscutting all of Sentinel’s objectives is the theme of stakeholder engagement. This is a critical element of the project’s theory of change: if we are to succeed in achieving our intended outcomes and create impact beyond the project, it is vital we identify key individuals and institutions in our three focal countries, and establish and maintain two-way communication throughout the project. If we can understand stakeholders’ interests, concerns and priorities, we can better shape our research to meet those needs and frame our findings in the most relevant way. This is likely to lead to longer term impact.

Country Advisory Groups (CAG) in Ethiopia, Ghana and Zambia and an important part of Sentinel’s governance structure. These groups are made up of stakeholders from within each of our focal countries.  They provide regular feedback and advice to the country project teams on how the research is progressing and how it could better meet local and national policy needs. Many of the CAG members are also involved in the participatory scenario development work.

Mr Mathews Ngosa is a member of Zambia’s CAG. He is ZAMBEEF PLC’s Head of Marketing and Sales (Zamchick/Hamhatch Division) and has been participating in the scenario development work to date. He has found the process helpful, encouraging different perspectives and prompting ideas for new ways of working:

“The scenario building process being used by the project is encouraging. We haven’t previously paid attention to future planning and this exercise has given us an opportunity to look at things differently … it will give us an indication of future trends and the interventions we need to make in the agriculture sector”.

By continuing to work alongside stakeholders like Mr Ngosa we hope to learn more from each other, strengthen the relationship between researcher and research user, and achieve more meaningful project outcomes – ultimately achieving longer-term changes in policy and practice.