The first bilingual regional workshop, The Elaboration and Implementation of Methodologies for Designing and Implementing Multimedia Communication Strategies and National Communication Policies, was held in Niamey, Niger, from 1-5 April, 2002. It was organized by the FAO Extension, Education and Communication Service (SDRE) in partnership with AIF, UNICEF, UNDP, the World Bank and ECOWAS.
The workshop was attended by approximately 50 participants from 13 ECOWAS countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte dIvoire, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo. Its being held signals acknowledgement at the highest level of the fundamental role of communication in sustainable development.
Development itself can be defined as a process involving both quantitative and qualitative changes in political, economic, social, cultural and scientific arenas of society which can lead to individual and collective well-being.
The goals of development can only be defined in the context of the needs and expectations of local communities. No policy change or action can be effective without their support, and this is where communication comes into its own. Communication is a dynamic, participatory process involving the exchange and sharing of information. Once a policy has been communicated, it can be shared, discussed and modified as appropriate, and this gives rise to a sense of ownership of that policy by those affected by it.
A communication for development strategy calls for the full participation of all those involved in development activities. It should aim to influence the opinions and behaviour of communities to resolve problems that have been identified by those communities in accordance with a schedule also worked out in a fully participatory manner and taking into account available resources. Such a strategy would also constitute both a commitment and guidelines for mobilizing different partners in the development process.
A national communication policy constitutes the basic conceptual and institutional framework for the coordination of effective development activities. At the workshop, countries such as Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau and Niger, that had already implemented a national communication for development policy, presented the results of their work to neighbouring countries.
The principal objective of the meeting was to provide a forum for the exchange of views on and discussions of specific needs and expectations of different national communities.
Three documents, as well as this final report, were published as a result of the workshop:
A methodological guide to creating a multimedia communication strategy;
A guide to creating and implementing national policies on information and communication for sustainable development in Africa;
A report on the definition and implementation of national communication for development policies, with case studies from Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Guinea-Bissau.
We hope that workshop participants were inspired and enabled to develop and implement sectoral strategies for multimedia communication and national communication for development policies in their countries. The FAO Extension, Education and Communication Service (SDRE) is ready and willing to provide technical support to their activities.