Sentinel’s communicators sharpen skills in learning exchange

Valerie Kalinso, Copperbelt University

IIED’s Communications Learning Week in late June hosted by the institute’s communications team was timely and highly opportune for the Sentinel project.

Over four days, the workshop’s participants – from Bolivia, Malawi, Nepal, Tanzania and Zambia –  and the IIED team shared ideas and swapped knowledge on how to develop and sharpen project communications. It was a truly mutual learning exchange.

From the wide range of sessions covered by the programme [], those on research communications, advocacy, writing for impact, working with policy makers and persona development were particularly relevant for Sentinel.

We also had an opportunity to refresh our minds on best practices in the use of social media. I drew so many useful ideas to take forward from the rich and diverse examples that came from the group.

Powerful communication lies at the heart of every successful project and Sentinel’s communications team recognises the value of exploring the tools and strategies for delivering effective communications. We also recognise that these tools and strategies are constantly evolving.

We know we learn by doing and the Communications Learning Week was built around a highly interactive approach where ideas bounced back and forth between facilitators and participants – as opposed to a one directional flow of information. The participants learnt from the facilitators’ experiences; the facilitators learnt about the participants stakeholders, countries and communication environments. We did make a truly awesome almost global team!

And while it was a busy, learning-packed week, the IIED team ensured we had fun – with park tours, city walk and picnics.  Oh, and lots of sandwiches!

Valerie Kalinso is a Communications Specialist on Sentinel’s project in Zambia