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July/August 2003

Announcement of publication

Evaluation and utilization of traditional methods of communication in Cameroon's central, southern, eastern and extreme northern regions

Case study 20

by the Communication for Development Group
Extension, Education and Communication Service
FAO Research, Extension and Training Dicvision

In collaboration with:

PROJECT FPA/CMR/903/FPA
Community information, education and communication
in the area of reproductive health, Cameroon

This study covers 18 Cameroonian villages: five in provinces of the center; five in provinces of the extreme north; four in southern provinces; and four in provinces of the east. This study's main objectives are to thoroughly evaluate traditional means of communication; to note their constraints; to select the traditional methods which can best be used for the diffusion of information and to devise a strategy for implementing the selected method of traditional communication. The methodology of this survey is based on the Active Method of Participative Research.

This study illustrates that the traditional media for communication in Cameroon are: the gong and songs accompanied by dances (in all of the surveyed provinces); the xylophone (in the center and south); griot [travelling poet] and balafon (in the east); colleagues of the traditional chiefs (Lawanes, Djaoros); and messengers of traditional chiefs or muezzins (extreme north).There are numerous constraints to using individuals in devising communications strategies: a lack of trained musicians, the lack of initiative on the part of the village elders, the disinterest of the youth, conflict among the different generations, the proliferation of modern communications technologies, the complexity of training in various methods, the possible alteration of messages, a lack of motivation and the slow speed of transmission. The study notes that the best methods for the diffusion of information in the regions surveyed in Cameroon are considered to be: the gong, the colleagues and messengers of traditional chiefs to organize village meetings in which reproductive health issues could be raised, singing and dancing, travelling poets and xylophones.

In order to devise effective strategies for conveying messages about reproductive health through these traditional methods of communication, traditional authorities must be engaged early on in the process and informed of the importance of these means of communications; qualified individuals must be identified as resources and others trained; and a training of trainers must be conducted.

(Only available in French)

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