Reaching 150 million rural decision-makers
A communication package
Reaching national and international decision-makers
Parc's future direction and the role of communication
Maintaining the campaign momentum
Revealing PARC's true mission: sustainable development
The issue of people's participation
The PARC image
The author formerly was the Regional Communication Adviser of the Pan-African Rinderpest Campaign, for OAU/IBAR offices in Nairobi, under a series of FAO executed projects from 1987 to 1993. He may now be contacted et the FAO Representation in Zimbabwe, PO Box 3730, Harare. The views expressed here are entirely his own and do not necessarily reflect those of OAU/IBAR.
In what is probably the largest livestock development project in Africa, the Pan-African Rinderpest Campaign (PARC), the exchange of expertise, experience and viewpoints is vital for its ultimate success. However, this exchange goes far beyond a technical discussion between veterinarians.
PARC is active and present on a continental scale, covering a region of 34 countries. It needs to reach across many levels, from grassroots to national livestock services to governmental decision-makers and beyond African shores, to international policy-makers and donors, particularly the European Community (EC). In a complex, multicultural and sometimes political environment, PARC needs not only to exchange information, but also to actively promote ideas, action and funding with credibility and effectiveness (Box 1).
"Communication" is what PARC calls a major portion of this effort, aiming to increase people's awareness and to involve them in key issues, thereby deepening their commitment to a common cause. This component was adapted from the technical discipline of Development Communication in FAO, which is the use of communication approaches and media, some especially geared toward rural people, for a variety of purposes, including better planning and programme formulation; more effective management; increased public participation and community mobilization; information dissemination; improved/raining; and generation of support from decision-makers (Fraser and Villet, 1994).
PARC's communication component went from being practically non-existent in 1987, when it was regarded at best with indifference, to, in 1993, being the most popular project component requested by national PARC authorities from their governments, the Organization of African Unity's Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (OAU/IBAR), PARC's regional coordinator, and the EC, the principal donor. National authorities felt that communication was a truly beneficial addition to their projects, to which they wished to appropriate available funds.
By 1993, almost every PARC country had a provision for a communication component, whether available or in the pipeline, and about ten countries had made significant progress toward implementing a communication strategy.
PARC's communication strategy evolved over those years, and, as described here, it has new specific problems to address in the future. In broad terms, however, the PARC experience may provide insights into the role that communication could play in many types of development programmes, whether or not they are concerned with livestock and whether or not they involve Africa.
Of course Africa does present specific challenges, which the PARC strategy attempts to address. Some are unique perhaps, but many certainly are not. The continent is home to 1 250 different languages (Unesco, 1980), which is a reflection of its immense cultural diversity. This diversity within a single continent can seem daunting even to the nationals who manage development programmes and projects. Perhaps more significant than communicating across cultural lines, however, may be the fact that managers are often located in city administrative centres, by education they are urban-oriented and often they do not have rapid information channels with rural communities. The rural extension system may be broken down or lack credibility or be difficult to access for one reason or another. The so-called mass media exist, such as television, radio and newspapers, but these mainly reach people in the cities instead of rural areas, with the possible exception of radio. Radio programming itself though is often urban-oriented instead of rural-oriented, for both political and economic reasons. The government ministry responsible for a specific development project, such as the Livestock Ministry in PARC's case, may not have much experience with communication techniques for rural areas nor easy access to those who could help locally. And even if they did, it might still be difficult to introduce their services into their ministry's administrative structure and work programme and budget.
BOX 1 - Profile: the Pan-African Rinderpest Campaign (PARC)
PARC has been developed to control and eradicate rinderpest, a highly contagious and frequently fatal disease of cattle and other cloven-hoofed animals; to restructure national livestock services so that they become more financially self-sustaining and effective in the field; and to help control the risks of desertification of the African continent.
PARC is coordinated regionally by the Organization of African Unity's Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (OAU/IBAR), from offices in Nairobi, Kenya, and Bamako, Mali, and covers a region of 34 countries, mostly sub-Saharan: Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, the Central African Republic, the Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti. Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, the Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal. Sierra Leone, Somalia, the Sudan, Togo, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zaire and Zambia.
PARC activities consist of technical assistance to OAU/IBAR, the establishment of vaccine banks. research and financing of national PARC projects. It has received its main external funding from the European Development Fund (EDF) of the European Community (EC). Other technical inputs at so have been provided by FAO (communication, epidemiology, vaccine quality control); FAO/International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) (seromonitoring); Overseas Development Administration (ODA) (technical advice); International Office of Epizootics (OIE) (disease monitoring); Institute for Livestock and Veterinary Medicine for Tropical Countries (IEMVT) (research); and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) (research): with cooperation from related projects of the World Bank.
Indeed, many of these challenges are not unique to Africa nor to the promotion of better livestock services. A recurrent theme is the gap between the Urban and rural worlds, which is found on every continent. As many development programmes grapple, sometimes unwittingly, with how to bring these two worlds closer together for the practical and direct purposes of a development project, improving the exchange of knowledge, ideas and views is vital. The PARC programme has made steps forward in this regard, through the use of Development Communication.
The crucial starting-point for the PARC communication strategy in 1987 was a decision to build national self-reliance in communication skills to support PARC. This meant that the nationals themselves, not international experts at OAU/IBAR, were to carry out national-level communication activities and media materials production. (A notable exception was the PARC logo sticker that was provided to all countries for immediate use as a cost-effective measure, after being designed with some input from the countries.) Guidance, examples, training, orientation, help in applying for funds from government and external donors - all these kinds of international inputs, however, were in good order.
An operational fact about PARC and its immunization programme and "communication campaign" is that action at the national level throughout the 34-country region never has been under the direct control of a central international body. The OAU/IBAR coordinates matters, but national authorities are responsible for final negotiations with the principle donor - the EC - to obtain project funding and then must decide upon local strategies, work plans and operations.
The country-by-country approach was largely the result of a policy intentionally implemented both to ensure that projects were formulated on a case-by-case need basis and to build national capacity, responsibility and self-reliance in rinderpest control and eradication. Of course, since country projects were often formulated for two or three years' duration and because projects of neighbouring countries may have commenced at different times, even five years earlier or later because of the nature of project negotiation and approval, there could be no synchronized communication campaign to pave the way for a continent-wide blitzkrieg of vaccinations against rinderpest.
The central coordinating body, OAU/IBAR, has played an indispensable leadership role, however, providing guidelines and constant advice. In a sense, not being involved in the day-to-day operations of campaigns has allowed OAU/IBAR to take the high road and address the big picture. For example, it came to the fundamental conclusion that, in order for a veterinary service to eradicate rinderpest, it must be effective in the field. In part, this effectiveness depends upon having a trusting and productive relationship with rural livestock owners.
Many livestock services deteriorated severely in the 1970s and 1980s, and many rural livestock owners lost confidence in their effectiveness and sometimes even in their honesty and integrity. Yet, for PARC to succeed, the veterinarians had to rely on people's help to bring their animals for vaccination, to allow ear-notching, to responsibly report suspected rinderpest outbreaks and to allow serum samples to be collected, among other things. Each of the 150 million rural livestock owners and their families in the PARC region is, in essence an individually powerful decision-maker that can effectively speed up or slow down the progress of any disease control and eradication programme. As occurred in at least one country in East Africa, if enough local people do not trust the livestock services, a rinderpest vaccination programme can completely collapse. In order to prevent this, the communication strategy, first, placed the responsibility of carrying out the actual communication effort in the hands of nationals.
Second, national authorities were guided to focus their communication efforts mainly on rural areas in order to increase dialogue between the livestock services and rural livestock owners. It was hoped that this would lead to greater mutual understanding, consensus and locally made decisions about how to make the campaign a success.
Third, the veterinary field staff themselves were chosen as the field communicators for several reasons: they needed to meet with livestock owners anyway in order to prepare and carry out immunization programmes, they were directly employed by the Livestock Ministry; and some members of their ranks such as the animal health assistants and drivers, were often drawn from local communities, providing entry points to these groups.
Fourth, PARC should aim to prepare and equip the field communicators with communication approaches and media materials that have proved to be practical and effective in the field on a widespread basis. They should also be supported by other communication channels to reach rural communities, primarily rural radio, but also through various local leaders, schools and presentations at markets, as well as through the local administration and information system.
Fifth, the field communicators and others involved should attempt to gather information from the field and analyse it with regard to people's attitudes, local problems and opportunities, and so forth. This information should then be passed on to PARC managers.
This was a strategy focused on the long-term results. It may be surprising, but a "communication campaign" approach of simply disseminating information about PARC throughout rural areas has never been strongly emphasized. For example, there are not many loudspeakers on Landrovers haranguing villagers about PARC. Rather, the idea is that through meaningful dialogue people can find out what they need to know.
Communication is similar to the story of the chicken and the egg. Convincing people who are reluctant to communicate to take the trouble to do so is often achieved by helping them to communicate well. They then often become enthusiastic practitioners, if not exponents themselves, of the communication process.
PARC developed a communication package that is sometimes called a multimedia approach. A main focus was to assist the veterinary field staff. Even simple communication materials and activities can tremendously improve their work and effectiveness in the field.
Discussion tools, such as illustrated flip charts containing topical themes, have been a favourite. Veterinary field staff trained in their use can generate discussion in a positive and productive way with rural livestock owners, often to a degree not possible before. The flip charts can be designed with the input of both field staff and rural people and be produced by local artists and printers using local materials. PARC's flip charts were silk-screen printed on washable cloth and bound with wood, able to withstand rain, dust and being knocked around in the field.
Other discussion tools, such as illustrated leaflets, adult literacy booklets and posters, while not as durable as the cloth flip charts, are relatively inexpensive means of spreading information on a mass scale.
Community visits and feedback to PARC national management in order to discuss issues with local leaders, to hear the attitudes, problems and suggestions of people in general and to reach a consensus is another integral approach. This is usually worked into the preparatory phase or during the immunization programme itself in order to keep the budget of petrol and staff per diems to a minimum.
Communication workshops were advised so that field staff could explore difficulties in working with rural people and possible solutions, carry out role-playing and practice using the discussion tools. Such workshops can often lift morale enormously by providing field staff with a chance to voice their opinions, even if solutions to problems cannot be immediately found. For PARC management, they are also a good source of feedback from the field.
Pastoralist woman in the Karamoja region of northeastern Uganda being interviewed for a PARC radio programme - Femme pasteur de la région de Karamoja, dans le nord-est l'Ouganda, interrogée pour un programme radiophonique sur la Campagne panafricaine de lutte contre la peste bovine - Pastora de la región de Karamoja, en Uganda nordoriental, entrevistado para un programa de radio de la Campaña Panafricana contra la Peste Bovina
Livestock owners in Ethiopia give advice to the designer of a flip chart on how to draw figures so that they are best understood by other rural viewers - En Ethiopie, des propriétaires de troupeaux donnent des conseils à un dessinateur de panneaux mobiles sur la meilleure façon de représenter des silhouettes pour être compris par d'autres membres de la communauté rurale - En Etiopía, los propietarios de ganado aconsejan al diseñador de un rotafolio sobre la manera más apropiada de dibujar las figuras
Rural radio programmes made in a participatory manner and featuring cattle owners themselves doing much of the talking, as well as cultural themes, is another means pursued by PARC. The idea is to make programmes that rural listeners will actually want to tune in to on a regular basis, rather than the more typical one-time-only lecture programme. An important hidden benefit is that the subjects discussed by the cattle owners can provide PARC managers and field staff with valuable insights into local attitudes and priorities.
A campaign image stemming from the- PARC communication strategy at the national and international levels is also important in rural areas. For example, the distinctive PARC logo in the bold green, white and gold colours of the OAU, the campaign's coordinator, helps to accent the apolitical and international objectives of the campaign. This has helped the campaign to be carried out in national border areas where transient livestock owners can see the same PARC effort on both sides or, for example, where veterinary staff on both sides of the border might share responsibilities and even cross boundaries officially or unofficially in order to accomplish an immunization and disease control objective.
The communication approach at the national level was quite different from that for the rural community. The national livestock services were encouraged to use information techniques to attract increased administrative and financial support from their governments. National PARC projects were advised to find means, including the national news media, of documenting their efforts in the field, of portraying their efforts as part of an -international effort to defeat rinderpest and of emphasizing the importance of livestock for the national economy and welfare National launches or celebrations of the campaign, featuring national leaders, also help to capture people's attention.
Some countries have taken novel approaches. PARC management in two East African countries arranged to issue thousands of PARC postage stamps, for example; these were snapped up by buyers and used. One PARC management office painted a 6-m-high gold, white and green PARC logo on the front of its building, located on a busy highway which advertised the campaign to thousands every day.
At important regional meetings of PARC representatives from many countries held in a particular country, local PARC managers were given the opportunity to impress upon their own people that their local project was part of an historic Africa-wide effort, for which the individual country should certainly put its best foot forward National organizers were encouraged to invite high-level dignitaries such as the country's national leader or a top minister, as well as representatives from the various agencies and organizations involved. OAU/IBAR helped to create a campaign atmosphere with bright gold, white and green banners and flags, colourful posters, photographs and occasionally audiovisuals showing field activities around Africa. When there was something newsworthy, journalists from the local newspapers, radio and television stations were invited.
These meetings also helped to facilitate what PARC called "cross-border harmonization" meetings between veterinarians located on either side of a national border, in order to coordinate rinderpest immunization efforts. These meetings, originally intended to be low-key affairs for a few individuals, often became major events almost reaching the diplomatic level, where groups of livestock professionals became acquainted with similar groups in neighbouring countries.
At the regional level, the aim of communication work has been in some ways similar to a public-relations effort to assist OAU/IBAR in building its leadership role, which has been indispensable to the cohesion and momentum of the campaign, and in building campaign credibility by showing real actions and reporting on newsworthy events. However, the "public" mainly aimed at was in reality a fairly small group of national decision-makers, donors and technical agencies involved in helping PARC.
OAU/IBAR, therefore, had speeches to make at key meetings, a regular newsletter, posters, campaign logo, stickers, flags and banners, photographic displays of campaign activities, the occasional video and shortwave radio programme and a series of news releases, and when there was worthwhile news it called a press conference with international broadcasters and journalists.
The communication approach has become popular among PARC's national managers, but carrying it out in a practical and cost-effective manner is a challenge.
OAU/IBAR, with FAO assistance, has addressed this by providing a prototype communication strategy and media materials for adaptation by each country to their particular needs. A description of the prototype follows here.
A PARC Campaign Communication Kit containing a guide booklet setting out how to arrive at a localized strategy as well as sample media materials (already field-tested in some areas) was produced early on. These materials included poster designs, initial flip-chart illustration ideas, PARC stickers and logo, postage-stamp artwork and video materials for television spots and programmes (Villet, 1989).
An initial booklet on participatory rural radio production, Sensibilisation des populations rurales par la radio rurale: guide du producteur, was also printed and distributed early on, and an English version prepared (Querre, 19893. A more comprehensive guide has now been drafted for finalization.
The booklet Picture, print and promote... PARC! Discussion tools for the campaign - guide for planning, production and use, encouraged the utilization of flip charts, posters, leaflets, literacy booklets, stickers, postage stamps, banners and flags. It gave veterinary managers a briefing on what would be required to produce these materials, from the people needed to the production processes involved, such as silk-screening. The booklet was based on the actual experiences of national PARC communication programmes and the materials that they produced (Villet and Willby, 1993).
Posters produced by the PARC/Uganda project advising livestock owners on protection against rinderpest. These were made available in eight different local languages, such as Luganda, as shown here - Affiches produites par le projet PARC/Ouganda incitant les propriétaires de troupeaux à les protéger de la peste bovine. Ces affiches ont été imprimées en huit langues locales, dont le Luganda, comme ci-dessus - Cartel preparado en el marco del proyecto PARC/Uganda para advertir a los propietarios de ganado de que deben vacunarlo contra la peste bovina. El cartel se preparó en ocho idiomas locales distintos, como el Luganda, que aparece aquí
Poster produced by the PARC/Ethiopia project - Affiche produite par le projet PARC/Ethiopie - Cartel preparado en el marco del proyecto PARC/Etiopía
Illustrations from panels of the PARC/Uganda flip chart locally drawn and produced using local materials - Illustrations provenant de tableaux mobiles du projet PARC/Ouganda dessinées sur place et produites avec des matériaux locaux - Ilustraciones del rotafolio del proyecto PARC/Uganda, producidas utilizando materiales locales
Training of national staff was carried out on an ad hoc basis in a number of countries. Subjects included communication planning, media production (for example, rural radio production) and the use of media materials by field staff.
Throughout, OAU/IBAR also assisted national PARC campaigns to draw up their communication components in order to secure available funding from both national and external sources.
PARC, now entering its eighth year and what some call Phase Two, is addressing two broad areas wherein effective communication will be crucial: bringing the control and eradication of rinderpest to a conclusive stage, and accelerating the acceptance and implementation of policy reforms to improve the financial self-sustainability of livestock services. Most important, it is a time for PARC to secure its hard-won position and to impress upon everyone involved that solid results indeed have been obtained and that these should now be made comprehensive and irreversible.
PARC will need to employ the following two approaches in order to communicate effectively.
Core communication teams (CCTs) will need to be created in each PARC country to formulate and implement the communication components according to national needs. Unlike in the past, the OAU/IBAR project advisers should not be primarily engaged in directly formulating national communication components, but rather they should be guiding national staff to do it themselves. These national teams should typically consist of the PARC national coordinator, a communication officer, a rural radio programming head and a discussion tools designer.
The CCTs will be expected to follow and refine the national communication strategy that has already been established by PARC. This will include:
· improved discussion with rural communities through visits by field staff, use of discussion tools;
· a wider and more interesting forum of discussion between rural communities, livestock service field staff and decision-makers through the creation of "participatory" rural radio programmes,
· regular communication workshops at several levels of the field-staff hierarchy to develop communication techniques, to discuss problems and opportunities of cooperation of rural communities and technical matters and to build morale so that the campaign may be implemented effectively;
· gathering feedback from the field for use in campaign management and improved implementation.
At the regional level, OAU/IBAR should be in a position to help organize and train the CCTs and to put them in contact with each other in order to share experiences as well as provide technical backstopping.
Informative, credible and attractive media materials will need to be created at the regional level in order to help make key issues of the campaign more accessible to national decision-makers and middle management, as well as to the regional coordination unit, international agencies and related advisers.
The act of gathering information on various PARC topics in order to create these media materials undoubtedly will explore and clarify the issues in new ways, in addition to being an exercise in information dissemination. These media materials should mainly aim to promote the campaign internally among its management and participants although spillover to the general public is to be expected for topical subjects.
The role and focus of these communication efforts will be deemed by a deeper understanding of the critical challenges facing PARC and of where its management should concentrate its efforts.
By 1992, PARC and other efforts to battle rinderpest already had reached a plateau of achievement against the disease. Rinderpest, at one time affecting 18 countries, had disappeared from West and Central Africa, and the continuing hot spots in East Africa were largely outside the campaign's control because of the inaccessibility of certain geographical areas as a result of civil unrest and war. In fact, a crucial task over the last couple of years has been to attempt to clearly understand what, if any, special action is needed to prevent any possible reintroduction of the disease into Central and West Africa. This special action might be a full-fledged disease sanitary cordon, among other measures.
At any rate, in order for countries to officially declare themselves free of rinderpest, they would need to stop vaccinating their national herds and allow herd immunity levels to start dropping. This would allow any remaining foci of rinderpest virus to be detected more easily, in the form of disease outbreaks, so that it may be stamped out forever.
Certainly national decision-makers will need to be confident, both technically and politically, in order to undertake such a course of action. They need hard evidence that the East African hot spots will not reinfect their national herds should they become vulnerable. They need to be sure that local politicians and livestock owners alike realize that it is a scientifically positive sign if any last rinderpest is found after vaccinations have been stopped locally, since this means that the veterinary service is on top of the situation and is busy stamping out the virus, in other words, it is being an effective veterinary service in the field, which is more important than simply giving vaccinations. A small outbreak should not be viewed as a set-back or a sign of negligence. The understanding and vigilance of veterinary field staff and rural livestock owners are vital.
This would be a classic situation where, in addition to building mutual trust and confidence between livestock services and livestock owners through communication, an organized national information campaign could help tremendously. A high-profile use of illustrated materials (flip charts, posters, leaflets, etc.), radio broadcasts and public meetings, and a significant reward for the detection of rinderpest, could keep the rinderpest topic in the public eye and steer public reaction in case of an actual disease outbreak.
The regional-level coordinators at OAU/IBAR could organize additional interventions such as:
· Directly assisting national authorities to conduct intensified campaigns in a special action zone around East African rinderpest hot spots, since this is for the benefit of many countries.
· Documenting the special action zone, and presenting this information in a form that is readily absorbable by non-veterinary decision-makers in West and Central Africa, so that they may better support their own veterinarian's decision to halt vaccinations and proceed with the 'Declaration of freedom of disease'.
· Showing - especially to decision-makers in West and Central Africa - the experiences of those countries withdrawing vaccination and entering into the above-mentioned declaration process, with a view towards both encouraging it and providing a psychological cushion if any set-backs should occur.
· Helping national authorities publicize the search for rinderpest - and even its discovery - as a positive sign that the veterinary service is effective in the field. Promoting the perception that countries reporting and investigating many rinderpest-like disease outbreaks will be looked upon more favourably than countries that are silent. A cash reward for finding rinderpest in certain geographical regions could be promoted, as was done in the final stage of the World Health Organization (WHO) small pox eradication campaign.
In the end, the last 10 percent of the rinderpest eradication effort will most probably prove as difficult as the entire preceding 90 percent.
Now that the rinderpest scourge is largely under control in Africa, greater attention can be paid to remedying the underlying cause of the problem: livestock services that are financially weak and so deprived that they become ineffective in the field and lack credibility with livestock owners.
Historically, this is what undermined the prior pan-African campaign against rinderpest -the OAU-mandated Joint-Project 15 - which was hailed internationally in 1976 to have eradicated rinderpest from the continent. During that same period the budgetary priorities of many post-colonial governments had steered away from livestock services, and as a result they degraded to the point where, from 1979 to 1983, the remaining and isolated disease foci were able to spread easily and rapidly, destroying approximately a million head of cattle across sub-Saharan Africa. The Joint-Project 15 campaign, costing US$5 1 million, was completely reversed. After this latest epidemic either ended naturally or was forcibly controlled, a number of new veterinary initiatives including PARC had to contend with rinderpest-infected animals in at least 18 countries. If PARC too were to result in the same debacle, it would be a long time before the effort to eradicate rinderpest would ever be attempted again.
To attack the root of the problem, PARC's mission is to help livestock services gain more income related to the productivity of the livestock sector and to reduce the chronic dependence on external donor aid. PARC originally posed a number of ideas in its so-called "dialogue points" with governments, which resulted in a number of proposed policy reform mechanisms:
· increasing cost recovery for services rendered;
· establishment of new financial procedures;
· reorganization of animal health services to correct the imbalance between personnel and other operating costs;
· liberalization of drug and vaccine importation and distribution;
· privatization of clinical veterinary services;
· reducing the risks of desertification.
Regarding the point about desertification, it is interesting to note that PARC has, to some degree, linked environmental protection to economic progress. -The theme still must be explored in greater detail, however.
The most salient theme in practice is cost recovery, or financial self-sustainability. This means that a nation's livestock services, whether government-run, parastatal, private or a combination of all three, must be financially supported by its clients, one way or another.
The clients, if they must pay for these livestock services, will naturally have the right, sooner or later, to help define those services. Or, to put it another way, livestock services should be marketed, that is, tailored to meet the needs of the clients. The vast majority of these clients are, by the way, rural livestock owners. As a result, PARC needs to win increased political acceptance of, and action for, its policy reforms and to better define which livestock services are most appropriate and effective from the point of view of livestock owners in order to encourage their participation in developing the livestock sector, since ultimately they must be the major contributors of the financial, logistical and moral support needed.
The first point principally aims at decision-makers at various levels of government, both within and outside the Livestock Ministry, while the second point is more concerned with the relationship between veterinary/related personnel and the clients - the livestock owners.
At the regional level, the first task is ensure that people at the national level clearly understand that PARC's principal aim is to create more efficient livestock services as a precondition for "permanent" rinderpest eradication, unlike the Joint-Project 15 experience mentioned earlier. Unfortunately, statements on this subject have tended to be - regarded as vague rhetoric at regional meetings of national campaign managers. The issue should be brought alive with actual examples presented through media materials.
In the style of candid news gathering, PARC could pursue a variety of story angles about the policy issues in order to show the human initiative and impact, and thereby create a more living picture of PARC. Topics could include the experiences of veterinarians going into private practice, when rural communities are (and are not!) willing to pay for livestock services, the attitudes of pastoralists and how field staff work with them, the pros and cons of revolving funds, the impact of livestock on the environment and experiences in pasture management.
The resulting materials, probably in video form and illustrated documents, should be distributed to PARC national projects and the CCTs, and occasionally to their ministers as appropriate, for redistribution among relevant personnel. There should be sufficient quantities of printed materials so that they may be distributed down at least to the middle-management ranks. National coordination offices should be recommended to have, or at least have access to, a VHS video cassette recorder and large monitor in order to show video materials to their staff.
Whether for policy reform or rinderpest eradication, in order to attract all the various groups of people and institutions needed to be contributors and participants, the PARC programme must address their concerns and needs. The equation is simple. People will assist if they think the programme is worth while and beneficial. What could ensure PARC's appeal to people? Giving people the opportunity to participate, truly participate, could almost guarantee success. Ideally this should begin et the outset by giving people a major role in identifying the need for a project and planning its execution (Box 2).
Most PARC national projects, however, like many other development projects, do not systematically utilize a participatory planning process to encourage people's participation. While these projects of course are prepared with the national authorities, and in some cases a project component may be designed with its direct beneficiaries, such as veterinarians wishing to privatize their professional practice, this process has not reached the grassroots level. To integrate a structured programme of people's participation into national PARC projects at this point would increase project budgets, although by how much and with what cost-effectiveness ratio has not yet been properly studied.
On the other hand most PARC projects currently provide for the practical expedient of a "communication component", the principal aim of which is to increase mutual understanding between rural communities of livestock owners and the livestock services, in addition to merely disseminating information, as described before.
The extent of a people's participation methodology in PARC has thus far been deemed as communicating with the relevant people. It is hoped that this will result in national project management taking the views of the people into account in order to implement the project better and to adapt other government actions. Perhaps this communication process pales when compared to the ideal methodology of people's participation, but at least dialogue between the so-called project providers and beneficiaries introduces a greater element of realism between them.
In the practical world of the field situation, it must be realized that PARC does sometimes provide a new and singular opportunity for livestock service staff and livestock owners to come in contact on a wide scale for a positive purpose, sometimes after years of frail or non-existent field activities. This contact can allow both groups to become reacquainted with one another and to find more ways of collaborating for a common benefit.
It may be beneficial for PARC's regional coordinators to expand this process by singling out a specific group, such as pastoralists, to be featured regularly in media materials that are produced with national assistance for regional distribution purposes. (Already PARC has drafted a guidebook describing all the various pastoralist groups in the PARC region.) The media materials could be valuable means of presenting the opinions and situations of a group, which are often not well understood but nevertheless instrumental in PARC achieving its objectives. Already PARC has at least one "barefoot vet" project in the pipeline and this could be a good source of such media materials.
Ultimately, through the experience of communication itself, the fund a mental need for people's participation is recognized. This may lead to more systematic efforts to achieve effective communication by national livestock services, which is a worthy, though admittedly long-term, objective.
It should not be surprising that a large project such as PARC cultivates its image. OAU/IBAR, which embodies PARC, is itself always in the limelight and should set the right tone, inspire confidence and lead the way so that many national authorities may make and carry out sometimes difficult decisions.
Credibility is vital. PARC's present style of openness and impartiality should be profiled more strongly through frank discussion of actual rinderpest or rinderpest-like outbreaks, difficulties with policy reforms, reasons why rural communities do or do not cooperate, how the environmental safeguards can fit into livestock development and other difficult subjects.
On another note, the PARC regional project should be positioned (to use a marketing term) as different from some aid projects of the past, which were basically grants of vehicles and funds, because even today many still think of PARC as being this way. PARC needs to emphasize even more an attitude of self-reliance, inventiveness and perhaps even an entrepreneurial spirit, fitting in with the theme of financial self-sustainability of livestock services. A modern and perhaps trend-setting profile rather than a traditional "veterinary club'' profile might be a more desirable image for PARC.
Credibility of the information contained in the media materials produced by PARC at the regional level is highly important. A journalistic approach ("here are the facts, like them or not") is preferable to presenting everything as successful. A believable presentation of PARC in these media materials will directly validate the credibility of the changes and actions proposed by PARC.
Like many other development programmes, OAU/IBAR's PARC programme has been addressing the fundamental issue of how to better involve rural communities. It has been recognized by all concerned that a planned communication process can make a worthwhile and practical contribution to rural people's participation. It has also been useful to help gain the understanding and support of decision-makers, to spread information and to better manage and coordinate campaign activities. A communication strategy has been conceived and will be applied on a more widespread basis. For this purpose, the major donor to PARC, the EC, has recently funded an expanded three-year regional communication programme to complement the individual communication programmes in PARC member countries.
The PARC experience with communication thus far holds valuable insights for many other projects even those that are not concerned with livestock or those located outside Africa. Development projects of diverse technical fields often share key broad issues: how to bridge possible gaps of understanding between project planning and management centres in cities and project "beneficiaries" in the rural areas; how to equip field staff so that they may be better communicators despite difficult field conditions; and how to better understand the attitudes and priorities of the rural communities. Based on such similarities, FAO has been using PARC's various communication guidelines and media materials as examples for other projects.
In short, based on the PARC experience, other development programmes, large and small, should include a communication approach from the very start. Initially for OAU/IBAR, the technical discipline of development communication was virtually unknown. Just as FAO helped OAU/IBAR to explore and benefit from communication, so it may be in a position to assist others as well. +
Fraser, C. & Villet, J. 1994. Communication: a key to human development. Rome, FAO. 36 pp.
Querre, F. 1989. Sensibilisation des populations rurales par la radio rurale: guide du producteur. Rome, FAO. 41 pp.
Unesco. 1980. Many voices, one world. Paris, Unesco. 303 pp.
Uphoff, N. 1989. Approaches to community participation in agriculture and rural development. Washington, DC, USA, Economic Development Institute of the World Bank. 26 pp.
Villet, J. 1989. PARC campaign communication guide. Rome, FAO.
Villet, J. & Willby S. 1993. Picture, print and promote... PARC! Discussion tools for the campaign - guide for planning, production and use. Rome, FAO. 48 pp.