Communication for Development

ComDev News

CSDI: reflections on past and current actions

July 2013. The Communication for Sustainable Development Initiative (CSDI) was jointly launched by FAO and Italy’s Ministry for the Environment and Territory, in 2008. The project promotes ComDev strategies and methodologies to improve resilience and adaptation to climate change, and encourage a shift to sustainable natural resource management, to reach the final goal: food security. Main  project activities ran until 2012, with pilot programmes in Bangladesh, Bolivia, Congo, Jamaica and the Caribbean region, providing technical assistance to field projects and initiatives at the country level to strengthen, systematize and enhance Communication action plans. Some activities currently continue with additional financial support as in the case of Bolivia and Congo. In Bolivia, a National ComDev platform  has recently been launched for institutional sharing and collaboration, while in Congo, a series of radio programmes focusing on defining climate change, its impact on food security, and effective resource management are being produced.

CSDI also supported and encouraged the establishment of communication platforms, for example CCComdev at global level, Onda Rural in Latin America and ComDev Asia; as well as providing agricultural technologies and practices  through virtual platforms, for example a decentralized TECA Bolivia. CSDI further aims to strengthen the dialogue between local and regional actors, national governments and ultimately, the global population. CSDI, emphasizes bottom-up change through ComDev; the programmes were very demand oriented, rendering it a learning opportunity for all those involved: from the local community, extension officers and managers, to donors and partner institutions.

In 2012, CSDI project staff from the 4 pilot countries and headquarters came together to evaluate their successes and shortcomings, culminating in the CSDI End-of-Project Stocktaking Exercise. The project was successful in mainstreaming ComDev into the international debate on community-based climate change adaptation; as well as encouraging information and practice sharing among local actors worldwide, this was achieved through partnerships with communication networks, for example AMARC (World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters). However, there was a call for further involvement of government extension services, ministries and FAO representatives within the countries. Additionally, the programmes and frameworks had great potential, however at country level the activities were seen as too ambitious, causing complications and delays, in the case of the Caribbean; whereas pilot in the DR Congo featured many constraints, for example limited time, financial and human resources.


Communication and community media action to advance family farming

June 2013. As suggested by the Philippines, among others, the UN General Assembly has declared 2014 the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF), under the organizational supervision of FAO. Family farming is a way of organizing land, fisheries and forests, which allows families to manage them as a domestic unit of production, ideally without additional waged labor. Family agriculturalists are responsible for the production of 70% of the world’s food – therefore, encouragement to adopt or perpetuate the practice is a priority for FAO.

FAO and the World Association of the Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) recently signed a Letter of Agreement under which communication activities will be enhanced to advance family farming, which is key to protect the smallholders livelihoods; increase their resilience to natural disasters and climate change; and eradicate hunger and malnutrition. This will be achieved through the use of communication and community media in Family Farming to increase awareness on the topic; and by enhancing dialogue and support for the adaption of policies and services to advance the use of communication in local and regional settings.

ComDev stresses community media’s ability to act as a driver for social change in rural areas; it also emphasizes the importance of partnership to end hunger, striving for inclusion of all stakeholders, in this case: community radio practitioners, FAO and family farmers. As part of this initiative, the FAO ComDev group and AMARC would produce a study on the role of communication and community media in Family Farming; radio coverage would be provided for FAO and AMARC’s events in Ethiopia (Addis Ababa High Level Meeting), Haiti and Kathmandu, among other, and disseminated through AMARC’s global radio network. In addition, an online platform in Africa would be established; modeled on Onda Rural (Latin America) and ComDev-Asia platforms, both supported by FAO ComDev. Finally, a proposal for an international forum on the role of communication in family farming will be also developed, eventually taking place during the IYFF.


World Radio Day 2013

February 2013. Each February 13, World Radio Day is commemorated to highlight the important services that radio provides. Radio encourages knowledge sharing and access to information in remote areas, making it an invaluable resource. This year, ComDev was recognized by FAO for its use of the medium to promote communication in communities around the world. 

In 2011, Krishi Radio was established by ComDev’s Communication for Sustainable Development Initiative in collaboration with the Agricultural Information Service and the Department of Agricultural Extension of Bangladesh. The station “focuses on agricultural issues such as fisheries, climate change and disaster risk management broadcasting a wide range of programs produced by community members in collaboration with the technical staff of the Ministry of Agriculture. This is a good example of the role that communication and the use of community media such as the radio can play to foster agricultural development,” says FAO ComDev officer, Mario Acunzo. 

Two of ComDev’s regional platforms, Onda Rural in Latin America and ComDev Asia in the Asia Pacific region, were noted for their work in networking between radio broadcasters and field projects. Onda Rural aims to promote the use of radio in rural development projects in Latin America. It links regional community radio networks like AMARC and ALER with international agencies such as FAO and conducts research and gives technical assistance to field projects. The ComDev Asia website publicizes good regional practices, news, and provides useful resources. Communication and community media practitioners are encouraged to use the interactive platform for collaboration and uploading materials.


ComDev hosts PROCASUR seminar

January 2013. On January 16 FAO ComDev hosted a seminar on "PROCASUR ’s Learning Routes: knowledge dialogue, participation and communication for agricultural innovation and rural development". PROCASUR is a non-profit organization funded by IFAD and the Ford Foundation that promotes knowledge management and sharing among small holder farmers, development projects, organizations and governments. Speakers included the Learning Routes Program Coordinators  for Asia Pacific, Latin America, and Africa. The seminar presented the experiences and results seen from using the Learning Routes methodology. 

The Learning Routes focus on identifying local talents and innovative experiences that have proven effective for rural development. These good practices are consolidated into strategies to strengthen local capacities. Groups that are facing similar problems can learn and adapt from each other through exchanges of local knowledge. “Each Route is organized thematically around experiences, case studies and best practices on innovative rural and local development”, notes Asia Pacific coordinator, Ariel Halpern. After participating in learning activities, workshops and interviews, participants will develop an innovation plan and eventually become trainers to continue the Learning Routes in their communities.  

It is estimated that the Learning Routes have benefited over 4,000 rural people in 15 countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa. Currently, PROCASUR is implementing the Learning Routes in the framework of a joint FAO and IFAD project that aims to foster knowledge sharing and mutual learning on food security and income generation practices in the border areas of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. 


Celebrating One Year of Krishi Radio 

krishi radio womenDecember 2012. December 2012 marks the one year anniversary of Krishi Radio’s first broadcast. In 2011 it was established in the province of Amtali, Barguna district, with support from FAO and in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC).

Since 2011 the station has grown from producing a two-hour program per day to eight hours of broadcasting each day. A recent telephone survey revealed that within Krishi Radio’s 17 km radius, 40,000 people listen to the station daily using either a mobile phone or radio tuned to the station. As most media in Bangladesh is offered in the national language - Bengal - Krishi Radio gives a “voice to the voiceless” by providing 16 different programs in the local language of Barisal. Topics include agriculture, fisheries, climate change, gender issues, livestock, disaster risk reduction, health, youth programs, and local songs and folk stories. To encourage community participation the program “Listener’s Letter” broadcasts criticisms and suggestions from letters sent by the audience. In addition to broadcasting, Krishi Radio also hosts a youth club to educate children about different issues and involve them in the production of radio programs.

Read more information about Krishi Radio at the CSDI website


Confronting Risks and Disasters through Communication 

November 2012. DIPECHO 2011-2012 Action Plan of Peru has published “Enfrentando Riesgos y Desastres” based on a qualitative study conducted from 2011-2012. Written in collaboration with other UN agencies and national institutions, the study aims to understand the perceptions, attitudes and behaviors of Peruvians in rural areas in response to disaster risk management. 

 Peru is a unique case in regards to disaster management as it is home to several ecosystems and therefore susceptible to a variety of disasters. The study focuses on seven different provinces from coastal, mountain, or Amazon areas. Each province is given a profile in the publication describing its economic activity, education level, and human development index. This study was done from a Communication for Development approach, as main local stakeholders participated in the development of a Communication Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction. The 287 participants were divided into 34 focus groups categorized into groups of children, adolescents, adults, leaders, and teachers. 

Perceptions were built around three subthemes:

1) Knowledge, attitudes and practices with respect to disaster
2) Organization against disasters
3) Sources of information

The study concludes that in most areas disaster risk management is not a widely utilized concept. It is rarely practiced within families or in the areas of local or regional government although participants acknowledged disasters as a large factor in their lives. The study provides a series of recommendations that would involve community members and government actors in strengthening communication and knowledge sharing. 

The full publication can be read here.


AMARC Broadcasts Member Stations for World Food Day 

October, 2012. On October 16, 2012 the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) in partnership with FAO participated in World Food Day by inviting its member stations to produce programs on their communities to be aired and archived on the AMARC website. 

In support of World Food Day’s theme for this year, “Agricultural Cooperatives”, stations were encouraged to report on the theme as well as other subjects affecting their communities. Programs were recorded in English, French, Spanish, Nepali, Portuguese, Bahasa, and other languages. 

Executive Director of Pesticide Action Network for Asia and the Pacific, Sarojeni Rengan, was interviewed about the work that PANAP does to reduce and eliminate the use of highly hazardous pesticides. Although pesticides greatly facilitate food production PANAP aims to increase awareness of the chronic health effects that accompany exposure to highly hazardous pesticides. PANAP works at the local level, assisting communities in monitoring the impact of pesticides. Training workshops inform participants on how to document and take action against the use of highly hazardous pesticides. 

In another broadcast secretariat member of the Asian Rural Women Coalition, Marjo Busto Quinto, spoke about the Asian Rural Women Coalition. Formed in 2008 and made up of over 700 rural women throughout Asia, ARWC works to protect women in agriculture from land grabbing and securing access to land and resources. Through ARWC, women are able to share experiences and strategize collectively to demand more legal rights. Quinto stressed, “Rural women need to have their voices heard on the ground”, which AMARC facilitates. “This is a venue to hear our voices at the international level”, she stated. 

Listen to all of the WFD broadcasts at the AMARC website


ComDev contribution to Market Oriented Agricultural Advisory Services

October, 2012. From 8-9 October 2012 the “Market Oriented Agricultural Advisory Services Workshop in Latin America”, was held at the Hotel Camino Real in Santa Cruz (Bolivia). The aim of the workshop was to better understand how ministries of agriculture are addressing marketing and agribusiness development issues within their organizational structures and extension services, identifying capacity building gaps and developing action plans for follow up support. 

The first day of the conference, under a “World Café” methodology, participants were divided into five groups. The discussion groups focused on defining the challenges and priorities for each region. Conclusions from the “World Café” were presented on the second day followed by country profile presentations.

The Communication for Sustainable Development Initiative (CSDI) Bolivian team represented FAO’s CSDI initiative with a presentation highlighting the benefits of implementing a ComDev approach for agriculture and rural innovation, including fostering dialogue and multi-stakeholder participation. The presentation outlined the contribution and main results of the CSDI project towards applying ComDev methods and tools, including the establishment of the National ComDev Plan in collaboration with the Bolivian Ministry of Rural Development and Land (MDRyT) and the National Institute of Agriculture and Forestry Innovation (INIAF). The plan outlines a ComDev national strategy to facilitate coordination and communication between local and national actors while strengthening existing networks and links between researchers, technical assistants and producers in the field.

To read more about the CSDI project in Bolivia click here

To see the full CSDI presentation click here


Communication for Disaster Preparedness in Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Jamaica

September 2012. In recent years, floods, landslides, droughts and hurricanes have crippled agricultural production in the Caribbean, where national economies are largely dependent on agriculture and tourism. To strengthen community preparedness and resilience to natural disasters in the region, the OSRO/RLA.102.BEL Disaster Preparedness Project for Dominican Republic, Haiti and Jamaica of FAO was launched in 2011. In September, the project entered its second stage. CSDI has been supporting the project through the design and implementation of communication strategies and local information and communication (IC) plans for community based Agriculture Disaster Risk Management (ADRM) activities.

In its first stage initial assessments were made through focus groups and interviews to identify with key stakeholders and farmer’s groups ADRM and communication needs, as well as knowledge sharing opportunities, sources, and channels.  The whole process was documented through short videos and photo series, including the systematization of good ADRM practices to be used later for strengthening resilience capacities of farmers and fishermen.  Based on the results, local IC plans are being designed for 16 communities, as well as three overall communication strategies for each country, including awareness raising, training and information sharing on community-based ADRM activities.

The second phase of the project is focusing on selected vulnerable areas of the Dominican Republic and Haiti to support follow-up and implementation of plans that take into account local priorities of intervention. The success at the local level can then contribute to a broader up-scaling and replication at the national and regional level.

Read the full article at the CSDI website


Participatory Video Exhibition and Restitution in Nyagen village, North Bank, The GambiaParticipatory Video: giving a voice to rural communities

August, 2012. Participatory Video can be defined as a “script-less video process, directed by a group of grassroots people, moving forward in iterative cycles of shooting-reviewing. This process aims at creating video narratives that communicate what those who participate in the process really want to communicate, in a way they think is appropriate”.

It is an accessibleinclusive methodology that differs significantly from conventional filming techniques in which the focus is primarily the production of a finished product. In Participatory Video, the process is often more important than the product itself and it is the views and opinions of the subjects that are presented, rather than those of the filmmaker. The goal of the Participatory Video process is to empower rural communities by giving them the opportunity to document experiences from their own perspectivesanalyze issuesprovide solutions and build together their own future. Through this process rural communities communicate with each other so that common problems or achievements, can be identified and appropriate solutions and knowledge be shared to improve their lives. Participatory Video also provides a useful tool for development practitioners to learn what rural communities really want and need, and evaluate if - and to what extent - development projects are serving their purpose or respond to their needs.

Read the full article on FSCA website.

Here are some examples of Participatory Video projects in Gambia, Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau.


New ComDev Platform online: The Collaborative Change Communication

July, 2012. FAO and the College of Development Communication of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) are pleased to announce the launch of Collaborative Change Communication at!

CCComDev is a global initiative for capacity strengthening in communication for agriculture and rural development. It is designed as an interactive platform where communication and development practitioners can find information on training opportunities, access learning resources, exchange experiences and explore collaborations.

CCComDev promotes social networking and innovative forms of collaboration. In just a few click you will be able to join the online ComDev community to create connections, share your activities and materials, and take part in discussion groups on communication for rural development.

Sign up and get involved in CCComDev community of practice! For questions or help, please contact the platform team at


“Lo que la tierra nos da” A photobook on efforts for the conservation of Bolivia’s agrobiodiversity

An initiative of the Governments of Bolivia, Italy and FAO

June, 2012. Genetic resources for food and agriculture are vital for all humankind. The Government of Bolivia the Italian Development Cooperation and FAO, have joined efforts to strengthen national policies and public management system of genetic resources. The book “Lo que la tierra nos da” presents the enormous variety of genetic resources for food and agriculture in Bolivia and their strong bond with rural people. The launching of this book is an important step in the promotion of traditional agricultural crops and a relevant activity in relation to the International Year of Quinoa to be celebrated in 2013. 

Read "Lo que la tierra nos da".

For further information visit the CSDI official website or read the Concept Note of the event (available in English and in Spanish)


New Publication


Read the conclusions and final recommendations of the Expert Consultation on ComDev here


What is ComDev

Communication for Development (ComDev) is a social process based on dialogue using a broad range of tools and methods. ComDev is about seeking change at different levels including listening, establishing trust, sharing knowledge and skills, building policies, debating and learning for sustained and meaningful change.


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FAO – Research & Extension Branch
Communication for Development
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