27 March 2018
IAP Project Report: West Africa (2017) "Awareness Creation, Advocacy and Relevant Data Collection Strategies for the UN 2030 Agenda for Librarians"
IFLA supported an International Advocacy Programme project in West Africa in 2017. After completion of this regional project we asked the project team some questions and this is what they told us about the workshop they organised.
What were your goals?
- To build the capacity of West African librarians to effectively advocate for inclusion of libraries in development plans at different levels of governance.
- To provide skills to West African librarians for the collection and showing of their stories relating to their contributions to the UN 2030 Agenda.
How did you plan to make this happen?
We started by creating a task force confirmed by the IAP teams from Ghana and Nigeria, to submit a funding proposal to IFLA under the IAP. The project consisted in bringing together librarians from all West African countries for a two-day workshop in Accra, Ghana.
Getting experienced international librarians—preferably from West Africa—as speakers was very important to ensure a quality programme and for adopting a local approach. The Ghana Library Association hosted the event and worked together with Ghana IAP participants to arrange logistics. IAP participants from Nigeria were dedicated to preparing the content for the workshop.
Participants were hosted by the University of Ghana Guest Centre and utilised the University of Ghana Balme Library Seminar Room as the venue for the two-day workshop.
The workshop included presentations, group and individual activities and reporting, role playing, question and answer sessions, etc. Workshop materials were translated and simultaneous interpretation into English and French was offered to ensure a better understanding of the content by all participants.
How did it work?
Almost all Western African French and English speaking countries were represented at the workshop with one or two participants each, with the exception of Niger and Liberia who unfortunately could not participate.
The event was facilitated by two resource persons and supported by four IAP members from Ghana and Nigeria.
Six topics were presented covering issues such as the United Nations 2030 Agenda and the African Union's 2063 Agenda (including the role of librarians in these), Storytelling, Advocacy Cycle, Developing an Advocacy Plan and Follow-up Actions and Deadlines. There were also exercises with reporting back as a group or individually and role playing.
After the workshop, participants completed evaluation forms and received certificates of participation.
How did you use communications during the project?
In the initial stages communication was mainly handled through email and telephone. During the workshop, our face-to-face meetings were aided by simultaneous translation.
An English/French speaking IAP member from Ghana played a vital role in supporting communications between English and French speakers before, during and after the workshop.
What did you learn in the process?
The participants had many takeaways after the workshop concluded, with some key learnings:
- A deeper understanding of the UN 2030 and AU 2063 Agendas. The roles that librarians can play to support these Agendas and how to also increase the profile of the library and information profession.
- A new way of assessing our work by telling stories to each other and to the world—and more importantly to our governments and agencies.
- A clear understanding of the seven steps in the advocacy cycle and how to use it to put in place a plan to support the UN 2030 Agenda.
Role playing excercises were quite revealing and confirmed some of the issues that confront us when we meet stakeholders and helped to identify other potential issues we need to work on. We discovered there were also some issues that we had in common and others which were peculiar to individual countries; both enriched the discussions.
Few participants knew each other beforehand, but through the workshop they developed closer relationships with each other and the entire team. Communications by email and exchanges on the WhatsApp platform created at the end of the workshop were evidence of this great bond created as a byproduct of the workshop.
What are your next steps?
After the workshop, the following steps will take place:
Reminding and monitoring the tasks agreed by all participants, with two key activities and deadlines for 2018:
- Task A: Organise awareness raising sessions on the SDGs
- Task B: Meet up with policy makers
- Supporting all participants to carry out their IAP activities in their respective countries