Developing countries in general and Africa in particular have faced a great many challenges in the task of improving their peoples quality of life since they became sovereign nations. They have engaged in many efforts to develop and to modernise, often with the support of the international community. Unfortunately the results are often below those expected, as is witnessed by the level of the major development indicators in these countries, by the level and quality of peoples life and many authoritative reports from such bodies as the World Bank, UNDP and UNFPA.
A considerable number of explanations have been put forward for this situation, and one such is the deficit in communication between decision-makers and the promoters of development, on the one side, and the beneficiary community on the other. In actual fact there are many cases where local communities have more or less directly resisted those external interventions which have rained down on them from on high without their concerns, needs, vision or opinions having been solicited, nor without any prior explanation from the side of the promoters of development. As a result, it is now given that communication is an essential factor in the development process, even if its use has not been fully appropriated.
Thanks to the experience accumulated in the field in Africa, Latin America, Asia and elsewhere - including developed countries - much more is known today about communication strategies for development and about the methodologies required for drawing them up.
A quick look through the available literature shows that this experience has been gathered in several areas of development, as described below.
Health: Health in general, reproductive health, family planning, child health, STD/HIV-AIDS, nutrition, malaria, primary health care, vaccination and hygiene, for example.
Population: Population in general, gender, data collection, links between population and development, and family life.
Environment: Pollution, the urban environment, desertification/deforestation, wildlife protection, global environmental phenomena (such as the greenhouse effect), etc.
Agriculture and livestock: Modernisation of agriculture, dissemination and acceptance of new seed varieties, livestock vaccination, rural development, water delivery, etc.
Others: Education and literacy, addiction and dependence, poverty eradication, disaster mitigation, road safety, etc.
This document will give an overall presentation of the drawing up of a multimedia communication strategy, followed by the detailed steps of the methodology to be followed. First, however, it is necessary to define the following basic concepts: Development, Communication and Communication for Development.
Box Number 1: The Concept of Development
In brief, development can be defined as a long process of qualitative and quantitative changes in society in political, economic, social, cultural and social terms, which leads to individual or collective well-being.
The notion of sustainable human development is one which satisfies contemporary needs without compromising the satisfaction of the needs of future generations. It is centred on the human (the development of people by people and for people, for the whole person and for all people) and on the planet (maintenance of ecological balance). Human development relies on three essential conditions: Long and healthy life, the acquisition of knowledge, and access to the resources necessary for enjoying a decent quality of life.
Box Number 2: The Concept of Communication
Communication is a dynamic process in which a transmitter and a receiver exchange and share information, ideas, opinions, feelings and responses. It can take place in one of these spheres:
· Person to person (two persons in interaction) or in a group (one person or several). This is interpersonal communication;
· Organisation (in an institutional framework); the transmitter can represent an institution. This is institutional, or organisational, communication;
· Mass (the receivers are a disparate and dispersed set). This is mass communication.
The process of communication involves:
· Participants (transmitter/receiver), each with his/her own motivations and capacities;
· Messages, i.e. an organised sequence of signs and signals, following known rules and carrying a meaning;
· Channels, i.e. the routes taken by a message from the place of its production by the transmitter to the point of the receiver. In a given channel, a specific medium can be used (a medium is the medium used for carrying and giving a specific form to the message);
· an effect or impact, which is the result of the act of communication;
· feedback, that is response back to the transmitter from the receiver, in reaction to the message;
· A context, i.e. the physical, psychological, political or socio-cultural environment in which the communication takes place.
Box Number 3: Communication for Development
Communication for Development is the planned and organised use of techniques and means of communication (media or otherwise) in the promotion of development, through a change of attitude and/or behaviour, through the dissemination of the necessary information and through encouraging the active and conscious participation of all stakeholders, including the beneficiaries, in the process.
The operationalisation of Communication for Development requires designing strategies which are based on a sound knowledge of the context or environment, mobilising resources, drawing up appropriate messages and organising the flow of information to or between the people involved (targets, beneficiaries, stakeholders, participants) through channels and managing the process in order to achieve an impact in terms of development.
Box Number 4: A Communication Project in Burundi
Since 1988, the Ministry for Communication has been implementing an IEC project in the field of population and family planning with support from UNFPA and the collaboration of other ministries (Health, Social Action and the promotion of Women, Development Planning, etc.). Its goal is to raise the level of prevailing contraception which is very low despite the availability of services through clinics.
Objectives of the project
Public target group of the project
Channels and media of communication
This paper will now proceed to examine in turn:
- Process of drawing up a communication for development strategy;
- Its application;
- The structure of a strategy document on multimedia communication.