The author, who is Dr. Gary Coldevin of Concordia University, Montreal, wishes to acknowledge and commend the ground breaking efforts in mounting communication campaigns undertaken by the Lesotho Agriculture Information Service, under the guidance of the Director of Field Services, within the Ministry of Agriculture, Cooperatives and Marketing. A sincere note of appreciation is also extended to Headquarters staff of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) involved for their support, advice and guidance as the projects were implemented. Any errors in this Case Study are the author's responsibility and the opinions expressed in it are his; they do not necessarily reflect those of FAO.


This case study, like others in the series produced by the Development Support Communication (DSC) Branch of FAO's Information Division, is intended to shed light on outstanding examples concerning the use of communication to support rural development. In this instance the setting is Lesotho, a small, rugged, mountainous country in southern Africa, completely surrounded by the Republic of South Africa. The case study per se derives from two FAO/ Technical Cooperation Programme projects (TCPs) carried out by the DSC Branch over a period of eighteen months, during 1987 and 1988. The overriding goal beginning in the first TOP and carrying on into the second was to prepare staff of the Agricultural Information Service (AIS) to design, implement, and evaluate multi-channel communication campaigns, one of the most effective strategies in the arsenal of DSC delivery mechanisms.

In order to set a framework for the activities carried out in the combined projects, this monograph first examines the types of communication strategies used in rural development, and, in particular, the role of campaigns as catalysts to spur action in areas of high development priority. A sweep is then made of the range of campaigns used in a variety of Third-World development settings as background to outlining the DSC process model used in the Lesotho and other FAO projects. A description follows of the day-to-day experiences encountered as the normally headquarters-based AIS staff took to the field to conduct media presentations at the village level. Particular emphasis is given to the results of the evaluations carried out before and after each exercise in terms of levels of information gain and changes toward adopting recommended practices. Finally, the campaign methodology used is reexamined in terms of where weaknesses might be strengthened and successes underscored in the continuing quest to provide transferable lessons to other developing countries planning or already undertaking similar communication activities. The document is directed at project planners and government-level decision makers with the aim of describing, and promoting, this relatively new and exciting strategy for improving the lives of rural people.



During the past two decades the purposeful application of media and communication support has assumed an increasingly important role in many facets of rural development. Much of it has been subsumed under the larger movement normally referred to as Development Support Communication (DSC), or more recently, Development Communication. Broadly defined by the U.S. AID, the process refers to "The application of existing communication technologies and media to the problems of development" (AID, 1984, p. i). FAO more precisely delimits DSC as "The systematic utilisation of appropriate communication channels and techniques to Increase people's participation In development and to Inform, motivate, and train rural populations, mainly at the grassroots level" (Coldevin, 1987, p. 4). DSC sections are currently found in most international development agencies (although they may be subsumed under different titles), with spheres of project support ranging across agriculture, forestry, fisheries, health, nutrition and population activities, to women in development and functional literacy.

The idea of using media to assist Third-World development grew out of relatively consistent research findings demonstrating that focussed, receiver oriented communication strategies could play a significant role in accelerating the rate of technology transfer, whether it be process or product - or both. Thus, as communication technologies improved, became easier to use, and costs lowered, broadcasting and a variety of "small media" were increasingly harnessed to reach people at the village level. Prior to this, the main vehicle for linking scientific advances in agriculture, health and nutrition between researchers and rural adopters was the extension worker. Historically, however, their singular efforts have been limited by the thin spread of front line agents available in relation to the volume of people requiring information and training. Transportation difficulties have also tended to impede their outreach. In addition, effective communication with predominantly illiterate farmers was hampered by poor training in face-to-face communication techniques. Against this background, the use of media could accelerate awareness of, and adoption rates toward, recommended technologies through targeted information, motivational messages and training.

Nowadays in rural development, it is common to talk about media categories which are taken to include broadcast (television and especially radio), group (video, tape-slides, sound film-strips, audio-cassettes, overhead projections, flip-charts, posters, pamphlets, and leaflets; as well, traditional folk media such as puppets and live-theatre may be included), and Interpersonal channels (community leaders, contact farmers, extension workers). And DSC delivery strategies have been hierarchically ranked, in terms of complexity, from interpersonal communication through radio and television broadcasting, and group media, to multi-channel campaigns. This ranking also subsumes the notion that each strategy can be made more effective by incorporating that which precedes it. Radio broadcasts, for example, have much more impact if they are backstopped with authoritative, village based interpersonal sources, and group media can benefit from both radio and interpersonal communication support. Well designed communication campaigns usually involve broadcasting, village based group media, and intensively trained field workers. The general rule of thumb emerging from two decades of field experience is to use multiple channels, wherever possible, so that each medium reinforces and multiplies the importance of the others in an integrated network.

While there is no proven formula for selecting media for rural development, certain guidelines have emerged from practice. We know for instance that radio is particularly good at reaching a mass audience, quickly, with simple messages; print media like posters and pamphlets are good reminders or reinforcers of broadcasts, and interpersonal sources who provide opportunities for discussing information inputs are most useful for adding credibility to media content, shifting attitudes and prompting behavioural practice changes. Group media combinations have proven strikingly productive at the grassroots level. The advantage of this strategy is the establishment of a two-way flow of information with an audience and the possibility for immediate feedback as the presentation unfolds. Central points can be reemphasized, remedial information provided where needed, and discussions started with a view toward putting the recommended changes into practice. Particularly effective use has been made of small format video combined with simple, well illustrated pamphlets and field worker support for direct training of farmers and participatory community development (Fraser, 1987a; 1987b).

As mentioned earlier, all delivery strategies come to bear in the design of communication campaigns. In contrast to its founding "members" comprising field workers, broadcasting, and group media - which would normally function as part of an ongoing development support methodology - campaigns are usually carried out at a national or regional level, extend over a short time period, focus upon a specific topic of high development priority, and have a limited set of objectives. Most take advantage of multi-media impact and intensively trained extensionists. Other devices such as jackets, and T-shirts bearing campaign symbols are sometimes added. Often these campaigns are kicked off by the President or Prime Minister of the country.

The primary purpose of most campaigns is to stimulate action on problems requiring short-term or simple solutions which in turn often serve as the thin-end of the wedge toward embarking on broader, long term development goals. As such, they are normally information-intense with messages being repeated over and over in thigh frequency" advertising fashion, using a diversity of channel formats from radio spots and jingles to field worker demonstrations. An important feature of the campaign is to ensure that it proceeds hand in glove with the availability of field inputs associated with the technological product or process being advocated. Without this essential component, not only will the credibility of an on-going campaign be damaged, but in all likelihood attitudes to regular rural communication services will be affected as well.


Campaigns have been used in virtually every facet of rural development. All of the better reported projects have used radio as the primary mass medium. Among the more striking non-agricultural examples occurring during the late 60's and 70's have been the nutrition campaigns in Nicaragua, Tunisia, the Philippines and Tanzania, breast feeding in Trinidad and Tobago, family planning in Colombia, Honduras, Iran, Pakistan and Taiwan, and health in Tanzania (American Public Health Association, 1982). Currently, probably the most frequent application of this DSC delivery strategy is carried out by UNICEF in creating awareness of, and motivation to participate in, its Global Child Immunization Programmes.

Certainly among the best documented campaign examples were those launched in Tanzania during the 70's, namely, the 1973 health campaign, Man is Health, which ran for a 12 week period, and the 1975 nutrition campaign, Food Is Life, which extended over an 18 week period (for an extensive description and analysis of these campaigns see Coldevin, 1979; and Hall and Dodds, 1978). Both campaigns, conducted on a national level, were built around organized, village-based study groups. About 70 000 such groups, with 15 people in each, were targeted in the first campaign and 75 000 in the second. Basic elements included a weekly half-hour radio broadcast, an accompanying text book with a specific chapter reinforcing each radio lesson, and trained group leaders supplied with study guide manuals. Radio was also used in a variety of ways to encourage enrolment. Songs written especially for the campaigns were promoted (one written for the health campaign quickly climbed to the top ten in the national hit parade), and catchy commercials were aired frequently. Several speeches were carried by the Prime Minister calling for full participation. Additional promotion materials included posters, press releases, and T-shirts and dresses bearing the campaign logos.

The target for the first campaign was one million participants, and 1.5 million for the second. Both campaigns exceeded these targets with some 2 million initially showing up for the sessions. As a result, a number of problems arose which were not initially foreseen. Chief among these were the supplies of both study texts and group leader manuals; and because of the burgeoning numbers, some of the group leaders which had to be quickly pressed into service were inadequately trained. Some critics have also questioned the length of each campaign as being too short to expect many behavioural changes, with the length of time between campaigns, i.e., two years, dissipating the effects of one before the next began. And while positive results were recorded during the first campaign, in terms of knowledge of causes and prevention of common diseases and improvement in some health practices, no Before-after' impact evaluation studies were conducted in the second. The more compelling legacies of these campaigns thus rested in the guidelines they provided for orchestrating action on a national level to improve the quality of rural life, and lessons for doing it better.

A number of successful campaigns have also been undertaken in agriculture. Adhikarya and Posamentier (1987) for example, documented a rat control campaign in Bangladesh during 1983 which raised the adoption of rat control practices among targeted wheat farmers from 10 to 32%, resulting in an average harvest gain of 54 kg/hectare in treated fields. Perhaps the best known campaign, however, was that associated with the "Masagana 99" project in the Philippines during 1973 which catapulted the country toward adopting high yielding rice cultivation. "Masagana" translates as bountiful harvest with "99" referring to the project objective of achieving 99 sacks (50 kilos per sack) of unmilled rice per hectare.

The project was built around three main elements: 1) availability of high yielding seeds, fertilisers, and a simplified 16 step cultivation process; 2) credit assistance; and 3) a multi-channel mass information campaign extending over three months. The channel mix included radio broadcasting, a variety of print (bulletins, newspaper stories and posters), and intensively trained farm technologists in the 16 step methodology of rice production. Radio was used in three ways during the media intensive portion of the campaign to provide: a) motivation (jingles and spot messages were broadcast up to 20 times per day); b) information (daily 30 minute farm programme); and c) instruction (short courses were offered through the existing Farmers' University of the Air; registrants received printed materials to use with the broadcasts). In addition, television was used to kick off the campaign and to report on its progress. After completion of the campaign, the daily farm programmes were intended to provide follow-up reinforcement.

By 1973, as a result of particularly poor harvests in the two prior years, the Philippines had to import a substantial part of its rice supplies to meet national requirements. Following the campaign in 1974, rice yields had increased by 28%, and by 1976 a 40% rise was registered over 1973 levels. By 1977 national requirements were more than met and the country began exporting its excess harvest. The project was later to be criticised, principally because of farmers' low repayment of loans (Rosario-Braid, 1983). Overall, however, "Masagana 99" was declared a considerable success (Sison, 1985), one in which the multi-media campaign played a significant role.

A final example which should be mentioned in this section is a recent FAO supported campaign carried out in Sierra Leone during 1984 (Coldevin, 1986). Following a baseline survey which assessed information levels, perceived information needs, and media access among a sampling of the intended farmer target audience, an information campaign was built around the urgent priority to expand rice production through increased cultivation of swamp farms. The two month campaign, which was carried out by the Agricultural Communication Unit, involved a mix of dedicated radio broadcasts and village based slide-tape presentations, supplemented by posters and pamphlets. Extension workers fielded questions during the group media presentations.

Post-campaign results showed that, on average, farmers involved in the exercise had increased their knowledge levels by almost 60% over baseline scores. The highest gains were noted among solely dryland, or non-rice farmers whose after-campaign scores were three times higher (307%) than baseline levels. There was also a significant, positive shift in their declared intention to develop a swamp rice operation. An additional interesting finding was that, overall, farmers who tuned in regularly to the campaign radio broadcasts exhibited almost twice the amount of information gained when compared with sporadic listeners. Perhaps most important, the project aptly demonstrated the ability of a regularly functioning, agricultural media unit to carry out an effective multi-channel communication campaign based upon expressed information needs of the target audience.


In addition to the success rates associated with technology transfer, a positive contribution of previous projects has been in the continual refinement of a methodology for planning, implementing and evaluating development support communication. The "learning by doing" approach has currently evolved into a comprehensive DSC Process Model developed by FAO during 1987 which, while being flexible enough to accommodate most types of Rural communication activities, is particularly appropriate for multi-media campaigns. Broken down into its essential elements, the systematic approach comprises four stages as follows:

1. Needs assessment / information gathering

Determine key development priorities through field surveys, community consensus, interviews with field specialists and subject matter specialists; assess media channels available to potential target groups; ascertain whether technology transfer inputs are readily available.

2. Decision making / strategy development

Prioritise needs, select most important and establish development or project objectives to be addressed; identify target groups, carry out baseline knowledge, attitudes, practices (KAP) survey, conduct focus group sessions, set specific communication campaign objectives, determine multi-media mix and message design strategies.

3. Implementation

Draw up action plan, produce and field test samples of media materials, revise and finalise materials, train field staff in content and use of materials, distribute materials, and monitor campaign as it unfolds.

4. Evaluation

Carry out small scale field evaluations at strategic points during campaign to suggest where "in-course" changes may be warranted; conduct full scale post-campaign impact evaluation survey and use as feed-forward for future campaigns.

The components of the model were initially tested in Sierra Leone and formed the basis for the series of campaigns in Lesotho. Its applicability is intended to range across a variety of rural development themes within agriculture, fisheries and forestry as well as several FAO executed projects for UNFPA which involve information/communication for population activities.

An important point to be stressed in the model is that it begins with a field generated, "bottom-up" needs analysis with potential target beneficiaries; setting specific development or project goals is thus made on the basis of direct input from those who will be directly involved. The implicit understanding here is that communication support is most effective when it is included as part of early project planning, rather than being drawn into the operation as an Add feature at some point during the implementation phase. Formulating specific goals on the basis of information about people's real needs, and building in receiver oriented communication as a project unfolds, are proven ingredients in technology transfer success stories. In this participative process, rural people become not only recipients, but partners in development.

The most difficult, and at the same time one of the most important of all activities in the communication support process, is the target audience analysis (KAP or knowledge-attitudespractices indices; literacy levels; access to, use of, and preferred communication channels) since this serves both production and training objectives. At the outset it sets the baseline for establishing "success indicators" and later validation of the project's achievements. It also provides valuable guidelines for initial production and pre-testing of materials in terms of print and visual literacy levels; the choice of medium or media combination which is likely to produce the best results; and the identification of weak levels of knowledge, negative attitudes, and inappropriate practices. Briefing or training sessions for field workers can also be focussed on real information needs and specific characteristics of the intended target audiences, rather than formulating workshop goals and contents based upon the best judgements of an urban planning team. As the campaign unfolds, monitoring and small scale field evaluations can accurately point to where emphasis should be redirected, or where content units need reinforcement. Finally, post-campaign impact evaluations can focus on both quantitative and qualitative results for comparison with before-campaign or baseline data, and as such, function as accurate "feedforward" for sustaining the effects of a given campaign, or planning for carrying out new ones.

The campaign methodology advocated by FAO also includes both a "Management Plan" and a "Staff Training Plan" . Reference will be made to these components in describing the Lesotho campaigns, but our main focus will be on the DSC Process Model as it was applied over the 18 months of the case study.

(Appendix I includes a more detailed summary of the Process Model as background reference for DSC practitioners.)



Because of its geographical position and mountainous features, the Kingdom of Lesotho has attracted a number of colourful descriptors. It is not unusual, for example, to hear of it referred to as "The Switzerland of Africa", or "The Mountain Kingdom". Certainly for the first time visitor arriving during the winter months, well-travelled Africa hand that he or she might be, the initial impression of snow-capped mountains in a tropical continent is awe-inspiring; and even after some time the feeling persists that, aside from the racial makeup of its people and indigenous language, one could as easily be high in the Andes in South America. Lesotho is also affectionately known as "The Roof of Africa" or "The Kingdom in the Sky" because of its spectacular height above sea level. Indeed, it has the distinction of being not only the highest country in Africa, but in the whole world for its lowest point is higher than the lowest point of any other country. Its entire land mass is over 1 388 metres above sea level.

Lesotho was established as a nation by King Moshoeshoe the Great in 1857, largely as a result of his leading a large portion of the Basutho people away from numerically superior, warring Southern African tribes into the environmentally inhospitable, but more easily protected territory.

Approximately 20 years later, as a result of increasing pressure from white South African settlers, overtures made to Queen Victoria were favourably received such that the British Crown Colony of Basutoland was created in 1868. Masenu became the capital in 1869, one year after the British assumed responsibility for the administration and protection of the country. The Kingdom of Lesotho was created when the country came to independence in 1966, initially functioning under the aegis of a Westminster style parliamentary constitution. Currently, the country is governed by a national assembly under the leadership of a Military Council.

The land left to the descendants of the followers of Moshoeshoe I consists largely of a range of mountains, the "Malutis", which occupy over two-thirds of the country. The foothills descend to a narrow plateau along the western border of the country and comprise most of the 13% of land suitable for cultivation. Only a small portion of a, however, is good farming land and severe erosion over the years has reduced the amount of productive soil even further. All land in Lesotho has continued to remain the property of the nation, held in trust by the Head of State - currently King Moshoeshoe II - and only the right to use it is granted to individuals. Typically, a male head of household would have entitlement to a given number of plots for life, after which it is passed down to his heirs. Being allocated a piece of land was formerly considered a right but with growing population pressures, coupled with erosion estimated to be depleting up to 2% of arable land each year, there is simply not enough to go around. Indeed, the proportion of rural households without land steadily increased from 1~2.7% in 1970 to 25.4% in 1986 (Ministry of Agriculture, 1987). This doubling of Endlessness has taken place in the context of a country where almost 85% of its citizenry is rural based, where current annual population increases are registered at 2.8%, and where the estimated 1990 population of 1.8 million people will double in 24 years (Haub & Kent, 1990).


The AIS began as operations during the mid-1960's and like many of its sister agencies in Africa initially functioned as a public relations service for the Ministry, with media distribution primarily confined to press releases, the public radio service, and some mobile film showings. From rather modest beginnings, it currently offers a wide range of information services. The staff component of about 40 people operates under the direction of the Chief Information Officer in eight sections comprising radio broadcasting, audio-vi-qua, aids, press and publications, graphics, library, stores, technical/maintenance, and accounts and administration. The variety of visual and print materials produced by the service encompasses posters, slide presentations, photographs, handouts, flyers, flip-charts, and a quarterly magazine. Small format video has also been recently added to the roster of media capability. By far the largest activity of AIS, however, is in radio production. Operating under the banner of "Re Bitsa Lehoai" or Calling All Farmers", eleven programmes per week are broadcast for a total of 210 minutes of air time. The regular schedule includes a Monday through Saturday 15minute,earlymorning broadcast(5.45-6.00a.m.), and an evening session beginning at 6.15 p.m. - which varies between 15 and 30 minutes - from Monday through Saturday, except for Thursday. Field interviews with progressive farmers and subject matter specialists are intermixed with traditional music, weather and market reports, and lively dramatic sequences on topics of seasonal interest.

The AIS is in an excellent position to exploit the use of broadcasting and a variety of print media. For a start, the country has a unified language, Sesotho, which, aside from English being used in parallel in the capital city of Maseru, is common to all Basutho, the indigenous people of Lesotho. As well, the literacy rate of those reading Sesotho is comparatively high among the adult population with estimates ranging between 65 and 70%. Lesotho's relatively small size and cultural homogeneity also greatly facilitates the transmission of messages for a mass audience.

AIS material is broadcast through "Radio Lesotho" which covers the lowland regions of the country well but has severe Shadows" in the mountain areas. Still, overall, a relatively high proportion of the rural population own radio sets. A recent survey (Lesotho Distance Teaching Centre, 1987) showed a nation-wide radio ownership proportion of over 62%, with the greatest concentration occurring in the arable lowlands (69%) and the lowest in the mountains (51%). Eighty percent of those with radios reported that they were in working order; and of those without sets of their own, or with sets not working, about half said they listened at a friend's or relative's house. The general radio audience is thus in the neighbourhood of 75% nationally, and almost 80% in the lowlands where the bulk of the population resides. It should be emphasised that radio is the only mass medium in Lesotho since no national television production and transmission facilities as yet exist. Television viewing fare is readily available in Maseru and larger lowland centres, however, from two South African channels but to date has made no inroads at the village level.

A large portion of AlS's efforts are directed toward aiding the Ministry's Extension Service. Administratively, the country is divided into ten districts, each having a District Agriculture Officer (DAO), a District Extension Officer (DEO), several Subject Matter Specialists (SMSs), and approximately ten Extension Workers (EAs). The SMSs are each a specialist in a particular area (e.g., crops, livestock, conservation and forestry) and, while based at district headquarters, serve as technical backstopping to extension agents in the field. Other field based personnel benefiting from AIS materials are nutrition agents who are also technically assisted from their District Headquarters. As well, AIS is frequently called upon to produce audio-visual support materials for workshops organized in six Farmer Training Centres distributed throughout the country. Following the FAO projects, the Service is also now in a position to effectively carry out multi-media campaigns and to progressively add video to as range of media-mix combinations. The roster of activities and capabilities is thus extensive and indicative of a growing reliance of the Ministry on AIS to provide timely information directly to the jamming community, and to support farmer training exercises at both the village and training centre level.


Prior to FAO involvement, it was apparent that although the AIS was performing an increasingly valuable function, most of as staff were formally untrained in media production for a multi-channel communication strategy. Many were recruited directly from the ranks of Certificate or Diploma graduates of the Lesotho Agricultural College and some were seconded from other sections of the Ministry,. In order to prepare the Service for undertaking campaigns, the first FAO project kicked off with a six week combined workshop in radio/audio-cassette and slide production methods conducted by two FAO consultants. This was followed by the first exercise in communication campaigns, under the guidance of an FAO field communication consultant. The follow-up project included an FAO campaign production management consultancy, video production workshops, and guidance in designing and evaluating the second campaign exercise. A detailed description of how the campaigns evolved, and affected their target audiences, follows.