Francisco Barreto de Carvalho
Since its independence Guinea-Bissau has endeavoured to restore, and in many cases re-create her «national communication system». In recognising the prime importance of communication in the overall socio-economic development of the country, the Government has attributed high priority to the development of the national communication system, which will play a dynamic role in providing essential support to furthering the following national objectives:
Reinforcing the sense of national cultural identity;
Communicating information of national and international importance;
Motivating the people of Guinea-Bissau within the framework of the countrys development process;
Educating the population and furthering the effective transfer of knowledge by improving living and working conditions;
Promoting health and public health conditions in general;
Contributing to the creation of a pluralist democracy and respect for human rights;
Furthering the protection and conservation of human and natural resources;
Encouraging farmers to adopt modern production techniques and to improve their own techniques;
Encouraging the population to follow the path leading to industrial development;
Furthering commercial activities through advertisement and the use of publicity;
Promoting tourism, sports and other social activities.
Consequently, one of the prime objectives of the Guinea-Bissau Government has been to create a fully-fledged communication network to cover the entire country.
In 1991, following years of intense efforts, the Country finally created a social communication infrastructure that had certain amount of potentials, but the country did not have the means necessary for effectively using it in the service of development.
For Guinea-Bissau as for any predominantly agricultural country, communication is indispensable for making a number of development conditions possible, including technology transfer for progress in agricultural, animal breeding and fisheries practices, improving health care services, for the linking of knowledge and scientific experience, local culture and farm practices, etc.
A very rapid analysis will make it possible for us to measure the full extent of the shortcomings that characterised the Guinea-Bissau communication system.
These shortcomings merely reflected the extremely difficult situation throughout the country, in spite of the fact that all the reports that were made at that time with regard to Guinea-Bissau indicated that there had been a clear improvement compared to the previous decade: Food products were in greater supply, the economy had been liberalised and stabilised, social relations were less strained and political life was more democratic.
In spite of these improvements, and notwithstanding international aid and the efforts of the Government, the countrys situation remained extremely problematic, with regard to health care infrastructure and consumer prices, as well as the nations industry, which seemed to be unable to effectively take off. Guinea-Bissaus GDP per capita at this time barely reached US$ 120 to 130 per year.
Communication needs were at four different levels:
1. Needs that might be characterised as urgent, as they are linked to the necessity of providing farmers with timely technical information, such as weather information, farming schedules, pest attacks and epidemics they might cause or the changing of farm product prices. At the time there were no means to provide information to farmers regarding these questions;
2. Universal needs, such as those that exist in every other country, including education, extension and information in the areas of agriculture, animal breeding, fisheries, public health, nutrition, etc.;
3. Need for systematic information modalities for reaching the countrys entir population, a large part of which was completely isolated due to the lack of adequate means of transportation, and its geographical location (part of which is an archipelago, whilst another winds its way among innumerable streams and rivers);
4. A more complex need that involved the expression of the cultural identities of rural communities, which is a basic condition for development, and is coupled with the need (without being necessarily contradictory) to reinforce the feeling of national unity.
Guinea-Bissau, like all the countries surrounding it, has an extremely diverse ethnic base, made up of the Balantes, Manjagues, Fulas, Papel, Bijagos, Beafada and other ethnic groups. The country has no language that might be considered to be a true common language, including Portuguese. In addition, the Creole dialect, which is spoken by managers and development officers, cannot be understood by a large part of the rural population.
The objective of the countrys authorities was to succeed in affirming unity through diversity. Guinea-Bissau, though a small country (36 000 km2) is subject to many centrifugal forces.
The national radio is unable to reach the countrys entire territory, and many people have adopted the habit of tuning in to Senegal Radio instead.
It is within this context that the Guinea-Bissau Government appealed to FAO for assistance in creating a multimedia communication strategy.
The project involved aiding the Guinea-Bissau Government in defining a social and educational multi-media communication strategy in the area of rural development, and in formulating a medium-term project involving the development of the principal instruments for communicating with the rural world, in particular rural radio, video and the different audio-visual support methods for education extension and group communication.
In order to accomplish this, particular attention was to be devoted to:
Developing the production of radio programming for the rural world;
Developing the production of television programming for the rural world;
Developing the activities of the Documentation and Agricultural Broadcasting Centre (CDEDA) by circulating written information as well as teaching and audio-visual materials for the rural world;
Supporting an inter-sector view with regard to the planning of communication needs for the rural world.
The expected outcomes of these project activities were the following:
Creation and development of rural radio programming on the national radio networks, and preparation of a rural radio development plan in Guinea-Bissau;
Development of television programming aimed at the rural world;
Improving the documentation circuit for rural development officers, and defining the production of teaching aids for the rural world;
Analysing rural communication needs and defining a multimedia and inter-sector communication strategy.
Coordination of the project activities was entrusted to a consultant specialised in communication who had all-around versatility. In addition to carrying out his coordination activities, and his specific contribution to each of the other above-mentioned activities, his tasks consisted of:
Encouraging the Bissau-Guinean partners to develop the practice of permanently evaluating communication activities with the rural world;
Defining the structure of a far more comprehensive programme for supporting rural communication, and favouring the creation of rural radio networks that would broadcast in local languages, and develop participatory communication experiences;
Contacting other sponsors, and encouraging them to provide the complementary financial means needed for the implementation of the post-project phase activities.
An evaluation mission was carried out by a representative of the Information Division (GII) of FAO Headquarters in Rome at the conclusion of the project.
In 1990, the Guinea-Bissau Government presented a request to FAO for assistance in the area of communication in the rural environment.
An exploratory mission, on the basis of an evaluation of the possibilities and limits of the existing tools, as well as the countrys communication needs, was able to measure the full extent of the shortcomings that characterised the Bissau-Guinean communication system.
This mission reached the conclusion that there was an urgent need to support the Guinea-Bissau Government in elaborating a multimedia communication strategy that could satisfy the needs of the rural world. The activities undertaken by the project were effectively launched in August 1992. Their essential objective was to assist the Guinea-Bissaus authorities in defining a multi-media strategy involving social and educational communication in the field of rural development, and in formulating a medium-term development plan regarding the principal means of communication with the rural world.
This project concentrated mainly on the following activities:
Training technicians from Guinea-Bissaus national radio broadcasting network, as well as representatives from other technical structures in the methodology of rural radio. A number of field trips enabled different teams to produce radio broadcasts for rural audiences;
Training television producers (TVEGB) and technicians from the documentation and agricultural broadcasting centre (CDEDA) in the production of interactive broadcasts with rural communities. Four quality programmes (reports) were produced, edited and broadcast on the national television networks. They had the advantage of filling a substantial gap in national production programming, normally saturated with television series and entertainment films;
Specific CDEDA support
In training, with the advanced training of two technicians who attended two working sessions in rural radio and TV/video. These technicians were also trained in the methodologies needed for farm education, at the audiovisual production services centre (CESPA), Bamako, Mali;
In institutional cooperation with the audiovisual media, through CDEDAs participation in rural radio field trips, as well as in the editing of programmes produced by the national television network;
In equipment, through the acquisition of a complete set of equipment, to allow the CDEDA to produce and edit television films.
In order to achieve the projects major objective, namely, defining a national strategy with regard to communication for development, four regional meetings were organised, with the following objectives:
Identify, list and analyse the communication needs of the different social actors in the urban and rural environments;
Make concrete proposals, in the form of sectorial and regional action plans, on the mission, general and specific objectives of the national communication for development strategy;
Analyse the role and place of the media;
Plan the training in communication for development;
Define the institutional and juridical framework responsible for the implementation and follow-up of the national communication for development strategy.
Each of these meetings, which lasted four days, was attended by twenty to thirty participants from the following regions:
The autonomous Bissau sector
The Northern province (Oio and Cacheu regions)
The Southern province (Quinara, Tombali and Bolama/Bijagos regions)
The Eastern province (Bafata and Gabu regions)
Five sector studies were carried out at the same time by national consultants, dealing with the following subjects:
Radio broadcasting in Guinea-Bissau
The juridical and institutional framework of communication for development
Television in Guinea-Bissau
The press in Guinea-Bissau
Training in communication for development.
In carrying out their assessments, the consultants examined the current status of communication for development, analysed assets and constraints, and offered recommendations with regard to communication for development strategy.
Contacts were begun and have been maintained with the bilateral and multilateral cooperation partners, in order to directly involve them in the implementation and running of the seminar that would define the national strategy regarding communication for development. These partners include organisations such as UNDP, UNICEF, WHO, UICN, the EEC, USAID and the diplomatic missions of the following countries: USA, Sweden, France, Portugal, the Netherlands and Canada.
This long process finally resulted into holding from 30 January to 6 February of the seminar for the definition of a national strategy regarding communication for development. One of the principal purposes of the seminar consisted in summarising the experience that had been accumulated, with a view to placing social communication at the service of the transformation of Guinean society.
The mission of the national communication for development strategy is to serve as an evolutionary and flexible reference framework, to inform on projects by means of dialogue held between the actors in development, so that the ideas and capacities of beneficiaries are taken into account, in order to mobilise them (social communication) and to allow them to successfully carry out development actions (educational communication).
Its mission, furthermore, is to facilitate the establishment of a climate of confidence between the Government and its partners, both internal and external, in order to achieve a concerted action for dealing with the problem of national development, and to eliminate, in addition, the divisions between "decision-makers", "executors" and "beneficiaries".
1. GENERAL OBJECTIVES
General objectives of the national strategy regarding communication for development are:
Promote the participation of civil society in the definition and implementation of the major orientations in the countrys development, by fostering a dialogue between all the actors in development with regard to these actions;
Support the initiatives of the base communities in the different development sectors, by promoting the exchange of information, knowledge and techniques between communities;
Allow all those persons who bear the responsibility for distributing information, or for introducing innovations in the different development sectors, to have the necessary social and educational communication instruments at their disposal, to carry out these distribution activities under the best possible conditions;
Promote, for all action in the rural environment, educational extension, supervision, training and communication systems, based upon strategies involving dialogue and participation, rather than strategies limited to vertical messages alone.
Furthermore, the national strategy regarding communication for development must contribute to the consolidation of democracy, including making the nations citizens aware of their rights and duties, and making the Government aware of its responsibilities and the extent of its authority.
2. SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES
The national strategy regarding communication for development must contribute to the implementation of the Governments priority sector policies in the areas of education, public health, energy, agriculture, housing conditions and other infrastructures.
The national strategy regarding communication for development must support all of the Guinea-Bissau development sectors and areas, particularly:
The economic and financial sector;
The production in the agricultural, animal breeding, forestry, agronomy research, fisheries, energy, industry, natural resources, tourism, environmental and handicrafts areas;
The social system, transport and communication infrastructures, housing conditions and urban areas;
The commercial area;
The social area, in particular social affairs and the promotion of women, and the youth, culture and sports areas.
This support must be concretely shown by:
Facilitating the implementation of the Government sector policies based upon dialogue and the Governments consultation with its different partners, both internal and external;
Improving training, motivation and information for managers who are responsible for the implementation of development projects;
On-going training and capacity-building to the countrys population, to disseminate information and promote openness with regard to development activities, particularly those that directly concern them;
Creating a legislative network that would facilitate dialogue, leading to enhanced responsibility and the improvement of relationships between the public sector and civil society with regard to development;
Enhancing the Guinean-Bissau culture, the social cohesion and harmonious development of the country;
Defending the peoples interests with special regard to education and health matters, particularly those of women;
Decentralising social communication, in order to enable the base communities to have access to information, and making sure that programmes reflect the problems and aspirations of individuals, families and communities;
Improving circulation of information with regard to the marketing schedules of food products, their prices and their availability on the market, etc;
Sharing of experience (both successes and failures) between the different participants in development actions, and particularly among the different base associations;
Promoting a major environmental protection campaign in order to contribute to the equilibrium of natural resources and the environment;
Applying participatory methods, to the acquisition and consolidation of peoples behaviour, attitudes and knowledge;
Identifying and integrating a communication for development component in all development projects and programmes;
Training and consolidating family values, in order to better manage family equilibrium;
Promoting consultation ("round tables") with development partners, in order to mobilise their participation in developing and implementing the national communication for development strategy.
The conditions for the implementation of the national strategy on communication for development have been very favourable, given the willingness of all the participants to take an active part in the development process. This is true with regard to the Government, which implemented the project, and to the development partners, the sponsors, the NGOs and the people themselves.
2. LIMITING FACTORS
However, there have also been serious obstacles to the implementation of a national strategy regarding communication for development, notably:
The lack of a conceptual definition of communication for development among the persons who have been delegated to intervene in this area, due to either the lack of training, or to the lack of the appropriate institutional structure needed for implementing programmes involving communication for development;
The lack of material and financial resources that would make it possible to implement the national strategy regarding communication for development;
The inadequate state of the existing infrastructures, particularly with regard to energy and access road planning;
The division or lack of contact between the rural and urban populations, with regard to value systems and cultural norms;
Projects operating with external funding that have limited their areas of intervention, and that did not facilitate communication, in spite of the fact that they had the financial and economic means to do so;
Documentation techniques and knowledge were not fully exploited, due to insufficient exchange possibilities;
Programmes and communication materials whose potentials were not fully taken advantage of, due to the lack of compensation on the part of the Government;
Under-utilisation of a large number of communication means, due to the lack of well-defined agreement protocols between the different sectors and services;
A considerable number of possibilities for improving communication in the rural environment and in urban areas never materialised, due to the lack of stimulation and motivation on the part of managers at the national, sector or local levels;
Certain means could have been better exploited, namely:
- Radio broadcasting, television, audio-visual studios in a different areas, traditional communication systems, the press and participatory intervention methodologies;
- Projects that had budgets available for the production of programmes in the information, education and communication (IEC) areas;
- Numerous NGOs, local associations and groups of women and men who supported communication at the local level.
1. SHORT-TERM ACTIONS (APRIL 1995 TO MARCH 1996)
Encourage the Government to approve the conclusions and recommendations with regard to the national communication for development strategy;
Begin the preparatory work involved in re-reading of the existing legal texts and identify new texts that are needed;
Distribute the results of the national seminar at all levels;
Create an inter-sector communication for development commission, whose Executive Secretary will be part of the Communication Ministry;
Elaborate a master plan for the development of social communication;
Create a rural radio network as well as regional stations;
Contact the development and cooperation partners, to implement the action plans forming part of the national strategy regarding communication for development.
2. MEDIUM-TERM ACTIONS (APRIL 96 TO MARCH 99)
Finalise and publicise the decrees that regulate the national strategy regarding communication for development and the master plan;
Set-up the coordination cells for the communication for development activities within government departments as well as in the other structures and bodies involved;
Create a school for social communication;
Create a national information and documentation centre specialising in communication for development;
Draw-up a training programme for professionals in social communication;
Drawing-up a training programme for field communicators in communication for development and on the use of educational communication supports;
Draw-up a development plan regarding research in the area of communication for development;
Institutionalise communication for development as a teaching discipline in secondary schools, as well as in professional, technical and graduate schools;
Implement the master plan for communication development, particularly with regard to the decentralisation of means of communication;
Draw-up the communication for development sector strategies;
Assign new functions and skills, as well as material and human resources to two information, education and communication (IEC) centres, so that these departments serve all the development sectors as training and production centres;
Reinforce the Rural Development Research Centre (CDEDA) as a training, information and documentation centre for field communicators in the methodology and approach to participatory facilitation;
Organise a meeting of the Portuguese-speaking countries (PALOP) in order to hold a debate on experiences in communication for development.
3. LONG-TERM ACTIONS (BEGINNING IN 2000)
Set-up a research and coordination structure for communication for development;
Consolidate the communication objectives in the countrys development sectors;
Evaluate and capitalise upon experiences in the area of communication for development.
The methodology underlying the implementation of the national strategy of communication for development was adapted to the cultural, economic, social and religious conditions in Guinea-Bissau, and to their stage of development. It was, nevertheless, based on the following four basic principles.
Support to local institutions and cooperation with local NGOs involved in communication was considered a priority. This support was to be integrated within the communication for development programmes and sectorial projects. The partners were intended to be the go-betweens in the actions undertaken.
All communication activity in the area of communication for development should include an interactive dimension, involving the reflecting, receiving and proposing ideas and information.
All the available media (the press, radio, television, cinema, video, theatre, dance, singing and storytellers) should be used, depending on the public concerned.
In areas with a low literacy level, direct contact should be favoured, by using local communication systems (LCS) as well as audio-visual methods. Traditional media (griots, marionettes...) and traditional communication channels (confessional communities, cultural events, etc.) would also be favoured, in order to reach the largest possible number of persons;
The communication for development activities should eventually be taken over by the development actors.
The Ministry in charge of Communication was responsible for carrying out the project, designating the organisation that would implement the strategy, and naming its national director.
In addition, the Government undertook to:
Favour the collaboration of journalists, producers and technicians with the organisation responsible for implementation, and to provide the necessary human resources;
Guarantee the permanent collaboration of all the Ministries involved;
Guarantee the participation of the organisations concerned.
Despite the fact that it had been approved, the national strategy of communication for development could not be applied for the following reasons:
The political instability in Guinea-Bissau. From the day that the strategy was created until 1998 (namely, in six years) there have been more than seven Ministers charged with communication, or a different Minister in charge every ten or eleven months. This rapid rate of ministerial change has made it practically impossible for the countrys different governments to include communication in their political agenda. As a result, the national strategy has never been formally approved by the Government;
As a consequence of Point 1, the operational coordination structure was never created. This is true for the communication units that had been planned for each of the ministerial departments and for the inter-sectorial committees. This has affected all the communication for development partners;
Lastly, in 1998 Guinea-Bissau suffered political and military conflict which resulted in the loss of lives, the destruction of the countrys socio-economic infrastructures and the forced exile of large parts of the population.
This political and military crisis has profoundly affected Guinea-Bissaus economy and society. It has had dramatic consequences in all areas of the countrys activity, and has seriously undermined the progress that had been made, particularly on the macro-economic level, and with regard to the confidence that had been created among economic operators and development partners. An evaluation of the impact that this crisis has had indicates the following results:
The destruction of the production sector, the disorganisation of the marketing and distribution networks and a decrease in farm holdings;
A reduction in the small amount of entrepreneurship the country had before;
A sustained increase in the informal sector;
A disorganisation and regression in the area of public administration;
An increase of uncertainty in the political and institutional system.
The implementation of a strong policy of support to the communication sectors would appear to be necessary at this point. It would require above all the updating of the communication for development national strategy. The Government already has in this respect requested the assistance of FAO for aid in its effort to re-launch its communication for development activities, as well as the updating of the already created national strategy, an indispensable condition for achieving sustainable human development.
With regard to this assistance, the Government has requested that a mission be sent to work together with the national counterpart in order to:
Carry out a review of the documents dealing with the national strategy of communication for development, as well as with the national programme of communication for development, in view of their updating;
Resume its contacts with the bilateral and multilateral cooperation partners involved in the implementation of the national policy of communication for development;
Initiate a round table of sponsors in order to finance the implementation of this policy.
UNICEF, in its Operational Plan For The 2003-2007 Programme, has included a project dealing with communication for development, whose general objective is to increase the intervention capabilities of social communication organisations; develop the traditional communication channels; coordinate social communication actions; and implement communication for development policies and strategies in order to bring about changes in behaviour in favour of children.
This project has three sub-projects:
Sub-Project 1 - Advocacy in favour of communication for development;
Sub-Project 2 - To reinforce the partnership with social communication organisations;
Sub-Project 3 - To develop local communication.
UNESCO has agreed to contribute to determining the countrys needs with regard to the rehabilitation of its communication infrastructures (the commercial press, as well as the audio-visual press and the public and private press), to an estimation of the costs involved in rehabilitating and equipping the press, as well as a determination of the needs involved in training journalists from the public and private press in the area of culture for peace. This training, which will be offered to different categories of journalists, will be carried out in seminars, training courses, days for reflection and panels on cultural themes for peace, including ethics, the journalists professional code of ethics, as well as the journalists role in the restoration and consolidation of peace in Guinea-Bissau.
The UNESCO assistance contributes to:
Training of information professionals in the methods and techniques of collecting and distributing information relating to peace, tolerance and human rights;
Permanent collective reflection with regard to the journalists role in the prevention of conflicts and the promotion of peace.
With regard to bilateral cooperation, France has resumed its assistance to Guinea-Bissaus national television, and Portugal has been assisting the countrys private radio networks, its television and the public radio networks in their re-structuring and acquiring technical equipment following the conflict.
All of these actions are in accordance with the document regarding the national strategy of communication for development.
The intervention of the national strategy of communication for development is part of a complex framework, inasmuch as it uses specific assets in order to contribute to:
The participation of the countrys population in the definition and implementation of the nations major development orientations, by favouring a dialogue between all the development actors with regard to these actions;
The initiatives taken at the level of local communities in the different development sectors, by favouring the exchange of information, knowledge and techniques between the different communities;
Make communication instruments available to all those who are responsible for distributing information, to enable them to carry out this task under the best possible conditions;
The implementation of the Governments sectorial policies on the basis of dialogue and the Governments collaboration with different partners, both internal and external;
The development of improved training, motivation and information for managers who are responsible for the implementation of the development projects;
Information and openness with regard to development activities, thanks to capacity-building and to training;
The emergence of a legislative framework that allows for dialogue, the taking of responsibility and the improvement of relations between the public sector and civil society in the area of development;
The decentralisation of communication so that local communities might have access to information, and so that programmes reflect the problems and aspirations of individuals, their families and their communities;
The exchange of experiences (successes and failures) between the different participants in development activities, particularly between the different local associations;
Consultations (round tables) with the development partners, in order to mobilise their participation in the elaboration and implementation of the national strategy of communication for development.
Conditions are very favourable at the present time for the implementation of the national strategy of communication for development, given that all the participants in the development process have the will to carry this through.
There has been a remarkable degree of participation in the elaboration of the national strategy of communication for development on the part of government, the sponsors, the NGOs and the other development partners.
Serious obstacles do exist, nevertheless, concerning the implementation of the national strategy of communication for development:
The lack of a conceptual definition of communication for development on the part of the persons charged with intervening in this area, the lack of training and the lack of an appropriate institutional framework for the implementation of communication for development programmes;
The lack of material and financial resources that would make it possible to implement the national strategy of communication for development;
The shortcomings of the existing infrastructures, particularly with regard to energy and access road planning;
The difference or lack of contact between the rural and urban worlds with regard to value systems and cultural norms.
The elaboration of the strategy of communication for development is a complex process involving the encouragement of the countrys population to participate in the definition and implementation of the nations major development orientations, by favouring a dialogue between all the development actors with regard to these actions.
Consequently, a country that plans to elaborate the national strategy of communication for development must:
1. Take into account the challenges involved, that include increasing the quality of life of the population, based upon the indicators for this quality that have been decided upon by the people themselves;
2. Adapt itself to the variety and diversity of all the actors concerned, namely:
The village community, composed of an ensemble of individuals, women, men and children, who are often organised in associations, groups and committees;
The notables and traditional or religious authorities, who are the guardians of the customs and habits of the community;
The different socio-professional categories concerned by the development tasks;
The development officers (technicians, educators, animators) from the Government, the NGOs, the projects and the institutions involved in development.
3. Meet the needs that arise at each step in the elaboration of the strategy;
4. Mobilise the existing communication tools and networks in function of:
The communication objectives to be achieved, which are not necessarily the same during each step of the strategy;
Their impact in the area;
Their flexibility during use (production and utilisation capacity, logistic facilities, etc.);
Their implementation cost;
The possibility for communities to take advantage of their use and/or to participate in the production of messages that are transmitted in such a way as to guarantee the sustainability of the communication activities and the reinforcement and development of local communication systems;
5. Use the different forms of communication (mass, local, traditional and institutional) as well as their tools in an organised, systematic and interactive manner, in order to:
Share knowledge and information;
Mobilise the different partners;
Reinforce the teaching abilities and communication skills of the development officers, at all the levels at which they work in the development sectors.
6. Include communication for development as a priority in the Governments work programme;
7. Make sure that the national strategy of communication for development will serve as a reference framework for all the partners involved;
8. Arrange for a communication section to be included in all areas of the countrys global policy, in order to make the bi-directional circulation of information possible;
9. Create an efficiently operating coordination structure. This structure must be both technically and politically flexible, and have a specific mandate as well as significant financial means. This structure should be presided over by the Prime Minister, and should effectively begin its work as soon as the action programme is approved;
10. Set-up a mechanism for evaluating the strategy throughout the implementation process, namely, by means of summaries, evaluation and modification;
11. Entrust the research activities to simple coordination structures, so as to guarantee the cohesion of the actions undertaken and minimise costs;
12. Involve all the partners in underwriting the costs of communication for development;
13. Take responsibility for all those persons working in the area of communication for development, so that the specific nature of their activity will be recognised, valued and institutionally regulated.
The following lessons can be learned from the Guinea-Bissau case.
Identifying the themes and research sectors be developed was facilitated by the experience gained in Mali.
Recruiting managers was generally not difficult, with the exception of the "traditional means of communication" area, for which the timeframe that had been set were not respected.
The timeframe that had been set for the consultants turned out to be too short in relation to the volume of work that had to be done, and it would therefore be advisable in the future to arrange for longer time limits (an additional month should be allowed for work to be carried out in the field).
The consultants did not have the benefit of a training workshop which could have helped them to harmonise the subjects to be treated with the methodological basis needed in order to carry out the diagnostic research studies.
The institutions that were contacted were willing to provide the elements needed for the consultants work, as well as participating in the national seminar. It would be advisable in the future to take advantage of this enthusiasm and great willingness to carry out more meaningful work.
The research studies carried out in the field have proved to be extremely useful, mainly because there had never been an attempt to learn what the expectations of the communication end-users really were, particularly in rural areas.
The research study on the juridical and institutional framework concentrated somewhat more on juridical than on institutional questions. It would therefore be necessary to repeat this study, in order to bring the strategy up to date.
The national director should become involved from the very beginning of the project, in order for him to be able to work on a full-time basis, and devote all of his time to the work, thus enabling him to direct the committee charged with the carrying out of the strategy. Inasmuch as he would be working for the project and a governmental structure at the same time, his activities could be limited.
The implementation of the strategy requires that attention be devoted to communication professionals from all the media, capable of mastering and adequately disseminating the subject matter and problems that are inherent to the development process.
The private communication sector was still in an embryonic stage at the time the strategy was prepared. It will therefore be necessary to take up this question again when the strategy is brought up to date, in the future.
The question regarding the Information and Communication Technologies was not sufficiently taken into account in the strategy. This aspect of the strategy should therefore be looked into more closely.
The conflict situation that occurred in Guinea-Bissau and the situation in the West African area makes it necessary to include the consolidation of peace, tolerance and respect for the Human Rights in the strategy regarding the role of communication for development.
A monitoring and evaluation structure must be associated with the project from the start.
The conceptual and methodological support that was provided by the service concerned at FAO Headquarters was a determining factor in the elaboration of the strategy.
The national communication strategy could not be implemented in Guinea-Bissau due to the reasons that have been mentioned above.
In conclusion, a certain number of questions should nevertheless be asked:
What good is it to propose that women undertake family planning if contraceptive methods and medical follow-up are not made available to them? What good is it to encourage young people to use contraceptives in order to prevent AIDS if these are not easily available on the market? What good is it to propose that farmers use animal traction if there are not enough cattle in the area? What good is it to urge market gardeners to increase their production if the necessary marketing structures do not exist? What good is it to encourage parents to send their children to school if the closest school is fifteen kilometres away, and if they have to pay the teachers? What good is it to encourage coal miners to stop their destructive production if no alternative activities are offered to them, and if the demand for coal increases? What good is it to "sensitise" the population to the sustainable management of their environment if no concrete means to do this is offered to them? What good is it to build infrastructures if they are subsequently destroyed in a conflict?
Practically all the organisations that work for development in our African countries, in the agriculture, health care, education and environment sectors, have long been aware that our women and men need concrete examples rather than words, in spite of the fact that oral discourse is an integral part of their culture.
Communication could accomplish a great deal for development, but on condition that in a parallel manner, the necessary services be present in the field, and that means of apprenticeship, tools, organisational capacities, financing, decisions and exemplary policies be present as well. In most cases unfortunately, these are all lacking, and the people are waiting to see that "those" individuals doing the talking demonstrate that they will help them do what is necessary.
The elaboration of a strategy of communication for development must not be an end in itself, a merely abstract operation. In order to bring it to fruitition, the specific mechanisms involved in decision-making, as well as the allocation of financial and logistic resources and the proper economic, social and political behaviour must be taken into account. Elaborating a strategy of communication for development merely for the pleasure of elaborating it is evidently a waste of time and effort. What will give meaning to the implementation of a strategy of communication for development will be carrying it out, and if it proves impossible to integrate the parameters that constitute political determinations and decision-making in this strategy, then not only will all the available possibilities not have been used to full advantage, but there is a grave risk of a total failure.