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Science Communication

To demonstrate the impact of science and
improve the visibility of
African scientists.

WHAT WE DO

PES

Science communication sits within the Corporate and Science Communication unit and seeks to demonstrate the impact of science by improving the visibility of SFA Foundation funded programmes and the science and scientists supported through these programmes.

Why science communication

Created by an experienced team of scientists, professionals, African and global partners who have established a series of major science initiatives across the continent, SFA Foundation is revolutionising approaches to advance the development of science and innovation on the continent. It is implementing major science programmes, including the Developing Excellence in Leadership, Training and Science Africa (DELTAS Africa); the Grand Challenges Africa (GC Africa) programme; Open Research Africa (ORA) and Public Engagement with Science, among others. SFA Foundation supported scientists drive locally relevant and high-quality research impacting on science, policy and practice in Africa and contributing to improved health and development on the continent and globally. For the research to impact policy and practice, there needs to be visibility and uptake of science. To enable this, the Foundation is showcasing the impact of science in collaboration with key stakeholders including the African scientific community and national, regional and global partners.

Additionally, science news has always struggled to compete with politics, sports and entertainment for public attention and perhaps most alarmingly, this trend away from dedicating resources to science journalism, coincides with an era where the public’s understanding of truth, trustworthiness, and responsible communication has been upended due to varying forces. Thus, less professional science journalism has left a void that is filled with disinformation and misinformation, resulting in the sad fact that actual data and logical, compelling analysis don’t always prevail in public discourse. The SFA Foundation sees science communication as an avenue for reaching audiences with a clear and credible message that will not only improve understanding of science but also the visibility of science done on the continents and, in turn, the scientists who conduct the science.


SFA Foundation’s science communication portfolio

Ultimately, the SFA Foundation’s science communication is geared at:

  • communicating scientific knowledge, evidence and facts for use in decision making and Africa’s development
  • increasing visibility and recognition of an existing and rising African scientific community and leadership
  • showcasing SFA Foundation funded programmes

Accompanying activities that are therefore specifically designed to showcase science on the continent are the:

  • Calestous Juma Science Leadership Fellowship developed as a response to the need for communities of scientific leaders to spearhead matters of global health after the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Africa Science Journalism Awards which seek to recognise and honour excellent reporting on science and innovation in Africa and also aim to improve and increase coverage of science on the continent.
  • DELTAS Africa Science Communication Network to network, share ideas and collaborate on improving the visibility of science in Africa

Africa Science Journalism Awards

The Africa Science Journalism Awards (ASJA) seek to uplift credible health, science and development reporting. The awards recognise and honour excellent reporting on science and innovation in Africa and also aim to improve and increase coverage of science on the continent. The ASJA is a project of SFA Foundation implemented with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The ASJA are given to

  • African journalists whose stories cover the SFA Foundation’s thematic focus areas of health, climate change and environment, and agriculture.
  • Scientists so to uplift credible science voices to eliminate misinformation and disinformation that sometimes characterises conversations on science particularly on social media.

ASJA seeks to:

  • Establish an annual award that recognises excellence in science journalism
  • Contribute to the pool of science journalists in the continent
  • Build the capacity of African science journalists through workshops and site visits that enable them to gain in-depth knowledge about a specific science subject.

DELTAS Africa Science Communication Network

Established in 2018, the DELTAS Africa Science Communications Network provides a platform for DELTAS Africa consortia to network, share ideas and collaborate on improving the visibility of the initiative. We are dedicated to accelerating the impact of science and innovation in Africa by powering and spearheading a creative, informative science communication agenda. The DELTAS Africa network will in time be expanded into a pan African science communications network with communications professionals initially from across all our programmes and from the African continent and beyond.

Evolution

The evolution of the network will ensure organised, sustained, meaningful engagement and consistent communication for SFA Foundation programmes and involve communication leads from the SFA Foundation grantees and programmes.

DASCICON Objectives:

  • Ensure increased and continuous visibility of SFA Foundation funded science
  • Upskill Africa scientists in telling high impact stories
  • Create a platform for continuous knowledge exchange and capacity building for science communicators across SFA Foundation funded grantees or programmes