FAO has been a pioneer in ComDev. Since the early 1970s it has been at the forefront of supporting agricultural and rural development programmes and policies through the implementation of hundreds of ComDev projects and initiatives worldwide.
The guiding principles and underlying philosophy of FAO’s work in ComDev are:
- Communication is a mediation process that brings different social groups together to discuss their interests and needs and reach consensus for action;
- Communication technologies and media are tools in this process, not ends in themselves;
- Listening to farmers, taking into account their perceptions, needs, knowledge, experience, cultures and traditions, is a vital part of the process;
- Stakeholder dialogue facilitates partnerships and supports a holistic approach to rural development and innovation;
- Appropriate media-mix -traditional, local and modern media- is designed to fit the cultural, social and economic conditions of rural areas in each country.
The main role of ComDev in FAO is to assist member countries in developing and implementing communication strategies to enhance the capacities of agricultural development programmes, institutions, farmers and grass-roots organizations to access knowledge and information and take an active part in making decisions on their livelihoods and the use of natural resources.
ComDev areas of work:
- Policy and program advice to member countries
- Technical assistance to governments, regional offices and field projects
- Capacity development of national staff and institutions
- Documentation activities, including case studies, guidelines, videos and publications
- Advocacy, training and knowledge sharing in ComDev
FAO is also active at the international level as a member of the UN Roundtable on Communication for Development (FAO hosted the 3rd and the 9th Roundtable in 1991 and 2004, respectively). In 2006 FAO organized the first World Congress on Communication for Development (WCCD), a milestone in the sector that has established the basis for practitioners and many development agencies.
In September 2011, FAO organized and hosted an Expert Consultation on ComDev in agriculture and rural development. One of the aims of this consultation was to assess the role of ComDev and position the discipline in the agriculture agenda and as a strategic component of FAO’s work.