16 January 2024, Zambia: CABI Zambia has recently shared evidence on the impact of its communication campaign on Cassava Brown Streak Disease. The assessment finds that the campaign activities played a pivotal role in the fight against CBSD at both local and national levels.
Cassava is important to Zambia’s food security and economic development. However, the emergence of Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD) represents a substantial threat to livelihoods in the country. CBSD was first documented in Zambia in 2018. It has caused estimated losses of around 55% of annual total cassava production. In monetary terms, this amounts to over USD500,000.
CABI launched the communication campaign in 2021 under the PlantwisePlus programme in partnership with the Zambian government. In 2023, CABI undertook several communication activities to spread awareness of CBSD by delivering tailored messages to diverse stakeholders.
In 2023, CABI collaborated with seven local radio stations across four provinces in Zambia, with a particular focus on the two provinces experiencing the worst impacts of CBSD. A special programme examining the challenges posed by CBSD in Zambia was aired twice a week over three weeks.
The programme featured a phone-in segment in which cassava farmers engaged directly with locally trained advisors from CABI. This allowed farmers to ask questions and seek guidance on CBSD-related concerns. Target communities particularly appreciated the phone-in segment as it addressed the specific needs of cassava farmers.
CABI produced two advertisements which focused on mitigating the spread of CBSD. The 45-second advertisements aired on the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC), the country’s leading news broadcaster, consecutively for 28 days from November to December 2023. The adverts were broadcast just before the main evening news at 7:00 pm.
For these adverts, CABI enlisted the help of influential figures at both national and regional levels. Including His Royal Highness Chief Kaputa of the Tabwa People and Dr. Gabriel Pollen, the National Coordinator of the Disaster Management & Mitigation Unit within the Office of the Vice President (DMMU-OVP). Their participation helped enhance the credibility and significance of the messages, contributing valuable weight to CABI’s outreach efforts.
Another aspect of the campaign involved organising a plenary discussion on ZNBC. The discussion focused on the significance of CBSD to Zambia and delved into broader topics such as the economic potential of cassava for the nation. The key participants included CABI Southern Africa’s esteemed Regional Director Dr Noah Anthony Phiri, ZARI’s Dr. Rabson Mulenga, and Itabwa Investments’ COO Musonda Chansa. The programme was broadcast four times throughout December 2023. This approach ensured a broad audience would benefit from the comprehensive insights shared during the discussion.
PlantwisePlus produced five thousand flyers. The flyers contained information on the symptoms for effective identification of CBSD, outlining the key management practices to mitigate the spread of the virus. The materials were distributed in areas directly impacted by CBSD. And were available in the five languages widely spoken in the affected regions: Silozi, Luvale, Kaonde, Bemba, and English. The flyers served as a valuable resource for farmers and advisors.
Stakeholder meetings and workshops
In addition to the conventional dissemination channels mentioned earlier, the campaign also involved organising stakeholder meetings and communications workshops.
On November 16, 2023, CABI Zambia orchestrated a pivotal gathering of diverse stakeholders to disseminate findings and share experiences gleaned from the CBSD campaign. Between the 21st and 23rd of November 2023, CABI hosted a CBSD communications campaign workshop attended by various stakeholders.
A recent CABI Zambia Monitoring and Evaluation team assessment found that the campaign had achieved important local and national outcomes.
There has been a discernible shift in agricultural practices at the local level, as farmers have actively embraced the agricultural techniques necessary to manage CBSD effectively. Farmers in several areas of Zambia have developed a greater understanding of the disease, meaning they can now identify the disease symptoms and implement preventative measures.
At the national level, the government has made tackling CBSD a national priority and has distributed disease-free planting materials to affected districts. These activities have been supported by national media campaigns on television and radio to raise awareness of the disease.
Looking forward, the CBSD communication campaign must continue building on the current momentum and intensifying efforts. The successes achieved since the campaign’s inception, including those in 2023, should serve as a foundation for continued progress in 2024 and beyond.
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