International Center for Tropical Agriculture

The Challenge: Maize, beans and bananas are essential components of African diets and livelihoods, and are under extreme threat from climate change. A major study from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), published in Nature Climate Change, provided for the first time a timeline for action to preserve food security, detailing exactly when agricultural regions across Africa will need to transform. CIAT approached Marchmont to deliver a communications campaign to amplify the key messages of the report and offer practical advice to policymakers and donors on how to take action.

Our Approach: Marchmont first distilled the key messages of the study into a two-page media summary and press release. We positioned the story against the backdrop of the El-Niño induced drought that was affecting large areas in Southern and Eastern Africa at the time, asking journalists: Is El Niño the tip of the iceberg for African farmers? In addition, Marchmont created a series of animated GIFs for sharing on social media, which extracted the key takeaways from the study in a visually engaging way.

Outcomes: Our media campaign generated 71 pieces of coverage, including The Guardian, BBC, Reuters and Agence France Presse. Three opinion pieces were placed in the media (Reuters, Financial Times and the AllAfrica newswire) focussing on different aspects of the study. Environmental thought leader Al Gore even shared a piece we placed in National Geographic on Twitter, calling the research “eye-opening”.

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