Engaging with Stakeholders - a Cochrane Colloquium workshop

Joy Oliver has been involved with The Cochrane Collaboration since 2000 as the administrator for the South African Cochrane Centre (SACC) and Trials Search Co-ordinator for the Cochrane HIV/AIDS Review Group. In addition, she manages the HIV/AIDS editorial satellite office based at the SACC and the HIV/AIDS Mentoring Programme for novice HIV/AIDS Cochrane authors. Joy also served on the Cochrane Collaboration's Monitoring and Registration Committee and was recently invited to serve on the Consumer Geographic Advisory Group. She can be contacted at joy.oliver@mrc.ac.za

Raising awareness about the work of The Cochrane Collaboration amongst South African consumers has always been one of my goals. I was finding it very difficult to get consumer organisations interested even though I offered to conduct free workshops to raise awareness about the Collaboration and how this can benefit them. Attending the Colloquium gave me the opportunity to meet other consumers and some insight into what they were doing in their respective countries.  When I saw that the South Asian Cochrane Network (SACN) was conducting a workshop titled 'Using and generating relevant evidence in LMICs by actively engaging stakeholders', I knew that this was one workshop I should not miss!

During the workshop we were given a project which the SACN had worked on to illustrate how they engaged with their stakeholders to raise awareness about pesticide related suicide deaths and to influence policy making to decrease the availability of highly toxic pesticides. Firstly we had to identify a list of stakeholders whom we thought had the power and interest to bring about change. Then we were divided into small groups and each group chose a stakeholder from the list identified and then we were provided with a framework within which we had to develop our plan of engagement with the stakeholder.  Below is the example of the framework for consumers they identified for their project.


Objectives of engagement

Activities relating to objectives

Components of activity

Process indicators





Small farmers and contact civil society

To provide reliable evidence to understand the magnitude of pesticide related problems


To inform them on the consequence of the high toxic pesticides as well as other alternatives

Identify and contact civil societies and NGOs working in this area


Identify and collaborate with small farmers to start a dialogue on this issue


Inform civil societies and small farmers about the magnitude of pesticide poisoning

Provide civil society and small farmers with evidence summaries about the magnitude of the problem in plain language


Provide small farmers with alternative methods of pesticide control

Number of civil societies contacted


Number of evidence summaries in plain language prepared

Plain language summaries

Small farmers switching to alternative methods of pesticide control

Number of civil society organisations engaged


Number of farmer clubs contacted

Change in pesticide poisoning treatment guidelines

The framework developed by the SACN is a valuable tool which I will definitely use to engage with consumers in South Africa.