Learning from benchmarking Living Income: 2. Identifying your stakeholders

Cocoa farmer field school in Ivory Coast © UTZ Certified

In 2018, the Living Income Community of Practice (LI CoP) embarked on a new adventure – applying the Anker Living Wage Methodology to estimate living income for cocoa farmers in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. This is the second in series of blogs reflecting on this experience and what we as a community have learned both about the methodology and about the value of living income benchmarks themselves. This blog focuses on stakeholder identification, which is a fundamental activity that occurs in the scoping stages of the benchmarking process. The two living income benchmark studies were presented to stakeholders in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana respectively, and are now available on www.living-income.com/papersandreports.

Identifying your stakeholders

Concurrent with selecting the benchmarking geography, a first step in scoping your benchmark is to identify stakeholders that will be affected by, or should act on, the outcomes of your work. These are the people you will need to engage with over the course of the benchmarking process. Stakeholders play a vital role in the creation of a living income benchmark; engaging in benchmark shaping opportunities (e.g. launch and validation workshops) and playing a part in any advisory governance you may want to include to support the benchmarking journey. They facilitate a credible research design and analysis as they can provide local expertise to ensure what you are doing is accurate and appropriate to the benchmark context.

Also fundamental is the choice of the research partner who must meet criteria for credibility at both the global and national levels, as well as have the content expertise for the study. In Cote D’Ivoire this was CIRES (Ivorian Centre for Economic and Social Research) and, in Ghana the University of Ghana with former Living Wage researcher Sally Smith. In both cases, on selection, sufficient understanding of the mechanisms and application of the Anker benchmarking methodology were demonstrated.

Involving a wide range of actors in the research process builds ownership of the final benchmark, making it more actionable and credible, particularly if you engage with those that you expect to act on the benchmark from the outset. This is because, through engagement and transparency, you are able to refine your activities, build a rapport with stakeholders and shape their understanding around the process and decisions.

A helpful starting point for identifying and engaging stakeholders can be to approach local, national and international multi-stakeholder platforms. For our benchmarks connecting with, and leveraging the experience of, the WCF and UTZ Sector Transformation Programme in Ghana, GIZ agricultural programs in Ghana and Ivory Coast and the governments’ platforms for gathering industry together, was key to engaging stakeholders and facilitating coordination with relevant government ministries.

In Ghana for example, the Living Income Community of Practice worked with the industry platform WCF Foundation to identify key public sector and research partners. The University of Ghana research team and Ghana based WCF staff, as well as the German cooperation staff, engaged the key ministries early in the process, most notably the Ministry of Food & Agriculture and the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD). COCOBOD contributed support in field work through their district managers and their research department reviewed drafts of the early results. It was also critical to have direct contact with cocoa producer groups, cocoa companies, sustainability standards, NGO’s and research teams all operating in the region whom were fundamental to engage with through the benchmarking process. This significantly facilitated the stakeholder mapping exercise, and there is hope that early and continued engagement with the two actors will increase the acceptance and understanding of the completed benchmark.

Engagement with your identified stakeholders would ideally occur on a regular basis throughout the benchmarking process, including initial scoping and launch and validation workshops at the beginning and end of the benchmarking process. The details and purpose of these engagements in Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire will be provided in the next blog on stakeholder engagement.

For full and detailed guidance on the process and application of the Anker methodology click here.

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