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Mali formulated its national communication policy in 1993, Guinea-Bissau in 1995, Burkina in 2001 and Niger in 2002.

Beginning with the policy’s formulation phase and continuing through to its implementation, a number of different events - both positive and negative - affected the definition and implementation process of the national communication for development policies in these countries. The methodological stages often had to undergo changes with regard to political, financial, institutional and even simply logistical factors.

This passage of time has provided additional insight for Cheickna Hamalla Diarra, Francisco Barreto de Carvalho, Serge Theophile Balima and Daouda Diallo, who participated in and coordinated the definition of the national communication for development policies in Mali, Guinea-Bissau, Burkina and Niger respectively, and who provide us here with the lessons learned from their individual experiences.

In their analysis of the advantages and constraints relating to the different methodological phases involved in defining and implementing their countries’ national communication for development policies, these four authors provide specific suggestions for planning in order to undertake this process, namely, the precautions to be taken and the mistakes to avoid. In Mali the implementation of the national communication for development policy was carried out gradually. It took nearly ten years for certain activities to be brought to conclusion. But was this sufficient?

The road ahead will be a long and difficult one; given the lack of adequate financial resources, and above all due to the low level of priority that communication for development has been assigned in the work programmes of the different governments and NGOs.

It is not merely a question of formulating projects and defining development strategies. There must also be a genuine political will to undertake these programmes. What is needed today is a firm commitment at the national level.

Only in this manner can communication resources be of effective use in the services of a country’s development: education, agriculture and literacy services.

Short-, medium- and long-term action plans have been developed in each of these countries. What remains now is for these plans to be carried out in a systematic, coordinated and determined manner, by integrating them in the priority programmes of the decision-makers, the grass-roots actors and the development partners.

Jean-Pierre Ilboudo
Technical Supervisor for designing
Communication Policies Projects in French- and Portuguese-Speaking Africa

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