Campaigns: activities framed by a strategy to support project aims

We developed a communications strategy that was designed to let the voices of artisanal and small-scale miners be heard in discussions about inclusive and sustainable mining.

Article, 23 August 2017
Evidence of impact: evaluating our communications
A series of case studies evaluating our communications activities
Artisanal and small-scale miners at work at Geita gold mine, in Tanzania. Miners were interviewed about their experiences and thoughts about what needs to change (Photo: Brian Sokol/Panos Pictures)

Artisanal and small-scale miners at work at Geita gold mine, in Tanzania. Miners were interviewed about their experiences and thoughts about what needs to change (Photo: Brian Sokol/Panos Pictures)

During 2014/15 we started a focused communications 'campaign' around artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM), working with research colleagues. Our aim was to collect and amplify the voices of mining communities to inform and build support for more inclusive debates about ASM. 

Ahead of the project's first visioning workshop, we commissioned photographs and interviews with artisanal and small-scale miners in Tanzania about their experiences of mining and their views on what needed to change. These were included in the visioning workshop, made into a film, and later became an exhibition that we displayed at the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development in Geneva in October 2016.

Our budget allowed us to go back to the interviewees and their communities in Tanzania to share how the visioning workshop had gone, providing them with a short booklet of stories and photographs.

Building trust, mobilising support

We wanted to build trust and mobilise a group of people that had not been brought together before − large-scale mining companies, government officers, and artisanal and small-scale miners.

We started with this small group and then tried to engage with a bigger audience interested in ASM. We held a one-day Twitter chat, for example, using the #ShareASM hashtag. The aim was to provide a neutral space where all kinds of people could raise issues, share in identifying solutions, and develop a vision for a more inclusive, sustainable and productive mining sector.

At the end of the first phase of the project we evaluated the communication work.

The questions we asked ourselves included:

  • Did we achieve our intended outcomes? 
  • How did the accomplishments align with the project goals?
  • Learning: what worked well/less well?
  • Success in gaining further funding – is that evidence of impact?

We wrote up our findings for the work, which was funded by the Ford Foundation, in 'Achieving commitment to dialogue'. Among other things we noted were:

  • Collecting materials from and reporting back to the mining community, the #ShareASM day and the visual representation of ASM stories at the visioning workshop, were all innovations through which we started to build trust, gain new audiences (130 new people or organisations to engage with), and trigger dialogue
  • A multifaceted communications and engagement project such as this requires strong collaboration between communication specialists and researchers to keep it on track
  • It is easy to under-budget for innovative communication activities, and
  • Reporting back to the mining community that had been willing to share its stories with global audiences made us accountable and increased the miners' interest and engagement in the dialogue process, particularly their participation in a future national dialogue.

Since this first phase of the project we have developed the communications strategy, and produced new content, including a blog on how ASM can make a positive contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. We want to engage as much as possible with the sector, communicate artisanal and small-scale miners' stories, and include them and others across the sector in dialogue.