Support for web applications that allow people to create and share information online (Web 2.0) transformed the way agricultural development stakeholders networked and communicated online. This revolution enabled the spread of information and ideas – as well as shifting the balance of power for enhanced policy dialogue and advocacy.
CTA’s long-running capacity building initiative on Web 2.0 and social media supported the uptake of digital solutions and provided people with the ability to collaborate and share information online via social media, blogging and web-based communities. The 2007 Web2forDev conference, co-organised by CTA and partners, was the first international event focusing specifically on using Web 2.0 for improved communication for development. The event introduced 350 participants, from over 40 countries worldwide, to low-cost, adaptable and interactive ICT tools and applications including wikis, blogging and social bookmarking.
Stimulating a Web 2.0 revolution
As a result of the conference, and in response to a clear demand to increase awareness and build capacities in the use of emerging Web 2.0 applications, CTA and partner organisations provided a variety of Web 2.0 learning opportunities from 2008 to 2014. The cascading of skills was a key element of the impact of Web 2.0 training. In Kenya, for example, CTA capacity building with Ministry of Agriculture staff led to the development of an e-extension curriculum and manual incorporating Web 2.0 concepts to enable the Ministry to communicate better with a larger number of farmers through ICTs. In recognition of the achievements in the area of Web2forDev, CTA won the ‘ICT Applications: e-Agriculture’ category of the World Summit on the Information Society 2013 awards.
In Madagascar, an e-discussion platform was established in 2012 as a result of the Web 2.0 training and proved to be a powerful tool in influencing policy. “More and more topics are debated as it is becoming the main discussion platform for rural development in Madagascar. A forum like this can really help to shape agricultural policy,” stressed Andrianjafy Rasoanindrainy, a lead trainer for CTA-supported Web 2.0 courses and an advisor to the Madagascan Ministry of Agriculture. For the first time, issues such as rural development policy reform could be debated by researchers, extension agents, farmers’ organisations and government officials.
“A key selling point of Web 2.0 is that it’s a technique anyone can embrace.” Steve Rono, Ministry of Agriculture Information Resource Centre, Kenya
Over the years, uptake and scaling of Web 2.0 and social media applications was supported by a growing Web2forDev community of practice (COP), which became a dynamic platform for members to discuss and exchange Web2forDev-related information. “I have benefited immensely from the Web2forDev COP, and gained immeasurable experience and interaction with practitioners,” declares member Winnie Lai-Solarin, a Nigerian communication specialist. By the end of 2019, the Web2forDev COP consisted of over 5,400 members from 121 countries with over 2,600 discussions held over the previous 12 years.
For more impact stories see: Embracing Web 2.0 and Social Media: A Life-changing Pathway for Agricultural Development Actors