Talking about collaboration: Notes from our FRI e-Discussion

Talking about collaboration: Notes from our FRI e-Discussion

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From November 1-29, 46 participants from more than 11 countries took part in an online discussion on collaboration in radio. The participants discussed the definition of collaboration, its advantages and challenges, how collaboration can address gender issues, and how to make collaborations last. Here is a summary of key points discussed.

What is collaboration in radio?

Effective collaboration requires two or more partners, groups, or individuals (radio stations, researchers, funders, resource persons, etc.) who create strategies to achieve well-defined and/or common actions, projects, results, and/or objectives. Collaboration can be either formal or informal, and can take place with or without a contract.

In collaborative processes, it’s beneficial for diverse actors to work together. The variety of skills, knowledge, and efforts of each person or group can be complementary in achieving a common goal. Collaboration is often a win-win scenario for the people and parties involved. By working together, each is able to progress towards their individual goals.

For broadcasters who work on farmer programs, collaboration means working in partnership with stakeholders such as government departments, farmers’ organizations, fellow radio stations, universities, research institutes, specialists, and non-governmental organizations. Collaboration promotes synergy between broadcasters, farmers, and stakeholders and improves the efficiency of information flow between them.

Participants in the discussion said that effective collaboration requires vision, communication, brainstorming, mutual trust, respect, support, skill, teamwork, authenticity, and planning.

Collaboration promotes a synergy between broadcasters, farmers, and stakeholders and so improves the efficiency of information sharing between them.

What are the benefits of collaboration?

Collaboration can lighten broadcasters’ workload, allowing them to better focus on producing quality content that is relevant to their listeners. these results are possible thanks to resource people and experts who are knowledgeable about agriculture.

Collaboration can sometimes result in referrals to other stakeholders, which create more opportunities for collaboration in the future. For example, some participants reported being referred to other media organizations with whom they could partner.

Participants said that collaborating with larger or well-known organizations can help to build the credibility of a radio station. Collaboration within a station’s broadcast zone helps to build local trust in the radio station and may even help gain new listeners.

Collaboration with diverse people and organizations adds valuable information to radio programs and heightens interest in a program. It can also help present important but underrepresented perspectives, such as those of women and marginalized communities.< Challenges identified by participants included: Lack of funding or sponsorship Unavailability of experts Farmers asking for money to participate in interviews>
Parties not respecting their commitments or agreements
Communication or language barriers
Offers to collaborate on subjects that the radio station does not want to be associated with
Promoting products that farmers cannot afford to purchase
Helping farmers understand that collaboration will benefit them in the long run

How collaboration can address gender issues

It was suggested by one participant that it’s a good idea to identify stakeholders who work on gender-related issues with whom broadcasters could collaborate or feature in interviews. This could include local women and girls, who could either present material on gender issues themselves or participate in interviews. Some participants suggested that this strategy would help women share their experiences on issues that affect them and also increase the program’s credibility with female listeners. With the help of stakeholders and local women, broadcasters could create a gender sensitivity team to advise on themes, use of language, and program dates/times suited to the target audience.

Another participant suggested that interviews about gender should resemble conversations but also be well-structured and planned to achieve the specific goal of the broadcaster.

One participant suggested that, before conducting interviews, broadcasters should update their own understanding of gender, including the roles and responsibilities traditionally assigned by society to men, women, boys, and girls. Another participants pointed out that, to do so, it’s important to hold discussions with local women and girls to understand the issues which matter to them.

Finally, as women are often more comfortable discussing their challenges with other women, it is helpful to have a female presenter on programs that focus on gender. And, as always, it is important to follow best interviewing practices such as respect and preparation.

How to make collaborations sustainable
For collaboration to be effective and sustainable, all stakeholders must respect their commitments. In order to do so, stakeholders must be motivated and responsible to one another. As one participant mentioned, outside funding is not always reliable. Because of this, sustainable collaboration should rely on a consistent and reliable budget, such as that of the radio station itself.

In the short term, per diems or other financial contributions may help to sustain a collaboration. But in the long term, it is better for the financial stability of a radio station for the station to incentivize contributors by consulting them as often as possible and by publicly recognizing their contributions to programming.

Another participant suggested that collaborators should build mutual understanding, either informally or by way of a Memorandum of Understanding. In the future, such a document could be referred to in order to ensure that all parties are fulfilling their roles.

Special thanks to our resource people for the e-discussion:

Yakubu Abukari, agricultural development officer, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Northern Regional Coordinating Council, Tamale, Ghana
Ben Fiafor, Country Representative, Farm Radio International, Ghana and Nigeria
Sidy Mamadou Coulibaly, agricultural extension agent, Regional Agricultural Office, Sikasso, Mali.
Sita Kam, member of a women’s organization in Burkina Faso called Réseau d’Appui à la Citoyenneté des Femmes Rurales Ouest Africaine et du Tchad

To read all the questions and responses shared in this discussion: http://discussion.farmradio.fm/
This e-Discussion was offered with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through Global Affairs Canada

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