In a virtual seminar organized by IITA–CGIAR on 12 September, Program Manager of Biotech and Genome Editing Communication in IITA Nairobi, Patricia Nanteza, spoke about “Empowering effective science messengers through capacity building and communication.” Nanteza highlighted her work in Science Communication over the last three years and its impact across Africa.
Nanteza shared her experience working with the IITA Communication Office in Ibadan as a Science Writer before taking on the Program Manager role. She explained how she amplified the work of scientists through print and video documentaries. Highlighting two major stories that showcased the excellent work of scientists over the years, she mentioned the IITA Insect Museum in Benin for pest control and advocacy for science-based guidelines for gene-edited products. She also shared videos that showcased the celebration of IITA’s contributions to plant health during the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH) 2020. “This research has contributed to the greatness of the Institute,” she said
Nanteza stated that she moved to Nairobi in 2021 to lead capacity building for biotech communication. Her primary role was empowering science communicators through training. To date, over 100 science messengers—scientists, journalists, and farmers—have been trained, with policymakers also involved as facilitators to enable participants to better understand what is expected of them in the policy making process. “We have trained 18 scientists in partnership with Science Stories Africa on storytelling and how to amplify their stories. We also trained farmers in Nigeria and Kenya to amplify their voices,” she said.
To boost internal communication, Nanteza started a webinar series titled “Spotlight your work” to strengthen team cohesion and help staff members know whom to go to for help. The webinar series is for everyone, not just researchers.
Highlighting the future, she mentioned that more scientists, farmers, and journalists would be trained and empowered as science messengers for biotechnology products in their communities. She also stated plans to work with Katherine Lopez, Head of IITA Communication Office, to establish IITA as the African Science Communication center of excellence.
Nanteza appreciated all partners for their support, including the IITA Communication team in Ibadan and Nairobi, Scientists, Administrators, and external partners, especially the Alliance for Science.