In late 2022, with development of its second National Strategy for the Development of Statistics well underway, INSTAT Madagascar decided that the time was ripe to prepare a communications strategy to support this new era for national statistics.
As the country sets out a concerted action plan to build statistical systems that deliver the quantity and quality information required to ensure development targets are met, a communications strategy is an essential tool to build better understanding and use of national statistics amongst a greater number of stakeholders in Madagascar.
However, there are several challenges currently faced by the communications team of INSTAT. Together, Thierry Andrihery and Francis Ravoahangilalao are responsible for providing support across the organisation, they note that there are several opportunities for the future.
INSTAT is highly regarded and has a lot of credibility, but we lack visibility. Our [communications] team has the skills required to carry out the necessary work, but we are too small in number and find that communications via some platforms are deprioritised since we are unable to meet all the demands. We also lack time to develop materials that target all our specific user groups
INSTAT then called upon PARIS21, with whom they had partnered to support the preparations of the NSDS, to support the communications strategy. PARIS21’s well-regarded Communications Strategy Handbook contains a comprehensive package that supports the inclusion of a range of stakeholders in the design of the communication strategy, ensuring that it is audience-focussed and action-oriented. The Handbook has already been used in Paraguay and Kenya to develop communications strategies for NSOs.
Under the Global Strategy for Agricultural and Rural Statistics (GSARS), PARIS21’s ongoing partnership with FAO provided an opportune moment to develop a targeted communications module for users of agricultural statistics within the new communications strategy. The country’s largest economic sector, agriculture is the country’s socioeconomic backbone. Users of agricultural statistics are widespread and varied, and need quality, timely and easily accessible data and statistics, making them an essential target audience for the communications strategy.
But the benefits of working with partners didn’t stop there. This project has also benefitted from international and local expertise thanks to the dedicated involvement of Anna Blomen, former journalist and communications expert with Statistics Sweden, and Nisa Rambel, a local consultant who combines expertise in communication for development as well as experience having been Director of Communications at the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development in Madagascar. Together with the INSTAT communications team, they have deftly managed a multitude of stakeholder inputs, ensuring that the process remains inclusive, comprehensive and user-centric.
The participatory approach was adopted in the development of this strategy, from the diagnosis and analysis of the existing ones through the reflection of the working group towards the implementation of contextualized solutions adapted to each of the targets of the Strategy
On April 20 2023, the draft strategy was shared with the Ministry of Agriculture’s Technical Committee, responsible for developing new Agricultural Statistics Strategy, with support from the FAO. Sharing the communications strategy at this stage provides stakeholders an opportunity to ensure alignment of objectives as well as a chance to learn from peers.
The communications strategy is expected to be finalised in the second quarter of 2023, however, many partners have found great value in the participatory process.
The process has been greatly helped by the broad range of competencies and backgrounds in the team. We certainly develop each other during the process, while also developing the strategy. One shared experience between INSTAT and Statistics Sweden is how powerful data is in communication. Our work will give those messages better ways to reach the stakeholders.