Voices from the Ground

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From Panos London, this blog follows the lives of five people working and living in developing countries, tracking their experiences in relation to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Communication Strategies: 

Voices from the Ground, December 1 2010 is an online platform for recording the challenges, frustrations, and successes of people affected first-hand by the impacts of the MDGs. Their experiences are recorded by Panos London local journalists in those countries who tell those experiences as first person. The bloggers' stories are told as they happen and feature people from around the world:

  • Northeast India: Takhelchangbam Ambravati (known as Ambra) is a grassroots volunteer with a local non-governmental organisation (NGO) near Imphal, the capital of the northeastern state of Manipur. She visits local women to collect information about human rights violations, domestic violence, and trafficking.
  • Pakistan: Zubaida Noor is working with women in a small village in Khyber Putkunkwa, previously known as North-West Frontier Province, who lost their homes in the recent floods. Her NGO, the Noor Foundation, focuses on women's education, health, and emancipation.
  • Jamaica: Dr Tracy Evans-Gilbert is head of the paediatric HIV programme at the Cornwall Regional Hospital, Montego Bay's main public hospital. Part of her job is to trace HIV-infected children who are not receiving treatment and babies with unknown status born to HIV-infected women.
  • Mali: As a housewife in the village of Tamala in the south of Mali, Sali Samaké has to fetch water every day to do the cooking and washing for her family. She is also one of thousands of small farmers trained by the Malian government to monitor rainfall.
  • Brazil: Dagmar Rivieri Garroux, known as Tia Dag (Auntie Dag), runs Casa do Zezinho, a school in one of south Sao Paulo's favelas. By offering social, cultural, and artistic activities for children, Tia Dag and the teachers aim to prevent them from joining Sao Paulo's criminal gangs.
Development Issues: 

Children, Economic Development, Education, Gender Equity, Maternal Health, HIV/AIDS, Health, Environment.


Email from Tia Jeewa to The Communication Initiative on October 15 2010; and Voices from the Ground blog, December 1 2010. Image credit: Sanjit Das / Panos Pictures

Research Makes the News: Strengthening Media Engagement with Research to Influence Policy

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Joanne Carpenter
Ingrid Yngstrom
Publication Date
March 1, 2010

Panos London

This document from Panos London, funded by the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), begins from the premise that: "If knowledge created by researchers is shared and debated publicly, it is more likely to be adopted by policymakers and practitioners." It assumes the stance that "media have the capacity to speak to policymakers, civil society, and the general public, and therefore have an important role to play in keeping debate and awareness of particular issues in the public domain.


Email from Christoph Dietz to The Communication Initiative on July 30 2010. Image source: Trygve Bølstad - Panos Pictures


The Ashe Company: Edutainment Initiative

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The Ashe Company (formerly The Ashe Performing Arts Company) has developed a social and behaviour change communication methodology designed to empower Jamaican youth to make their own decisions about living a healthy lifestyle and creating a healthy environment within their communities.

Communication Strategies: 

Ashe's model is culture-based, coming from the African tradition of using the arts as a developmental tool to stimulate youth from the entry point of the expressions they are already engaged in, such as: dance, drama, music, sports, and storytelling. Ashe uses these expressions to further the mission of meaningful participation and interaction in workshops and performing arts sessions/programmes that combine recreation and skills-building. The Ashe methodology has 3 components:

  1. The Multi-layered Approach - Ashe sees youth at the focal point of a cascade of concentric circles, with parents, teachers, and community leaders forming the expanding circles around them. What this means is that everybody has the same vision and is sending the same message to the youth. The youth themselves are also involved and are part of the process of the healthy development of their own lifestyles and communities.
  2. EIC Edutainment Model: E = Excitement. Participants are excited by participation in edutainment musical theatre performances; incentives (to travel and perform); music videos; and, in general, learning through use of culture and the arts. I = Involvement. Participants are involved by being part of the interactive learning sessions, whether during a one-day workshop or over an extended period. The approach is participatory. The involvement process includes: brainstorming; group discussions; role-playing; rap sessions; research; and sporting and performing arts classes. The idea is that the more involved they are, the more clearly they feel the impact of experience and explore their own integrity, principles, and values. Solutions are discovered together. C = Commitment. Commitment takes place when youth are empowered to make choices and decisions and they do so in relation to social issues that are dealt with in the programme (e.g., HIV/AIDS - they choose to abstain, reclaim their virginity, protect themselves, etc.) The youth make commitments not just for personal health and lifestyle but also for their families, the community, the country, and the world.
  3. Transformational Model - This is based on the image of people moving from the stage of 'caterpillar' to that of a 'butterfly.' It is about letting go of the old way of being and creating a new way that is healthy and beneficial for all. There are 3 basic stages: i) Recognition (participants come to an awareness of their own spiritual values and principles and look at issues of integrity. They also come to align themselves with a higher concept of life and way of being). ii) Die to the Old (participants give up negative stereotypes about themselves and others through forgiveness and other techniques). iii) Be Born Anew (participants fulfill the mandate that Ashe has as its mission - 'to live a life of integrity and fulfillment, doing what they love and loving what they do.'



For example, "Curfew for Schools" is an edutainment theatre production, enhanced by one-on-one discussions, that addresses the rights of young people; their civic responsibilities in the fight against corruption, crime, and violence; and ways to effectively engage them in problem solving techniques and anger management skills. The musical portrays a Jamaican community in a state of siege as a result of a curfew placed to control an eruption of violence. In the face of longstanding social disorder, members of the community struggle to create peace and find balance, using all the means at their disposal.


As part of an effort to empower students in 30 high schools to develop positive alternatives to anger and violence using the performing arts, the company journeyed (January 6-9 2010) to the island of St. Eustatius via St Maarten, all clad in brightly coloured red or blue Ashe/edutainment t-shirts. The 16 member crew, selected from the company comprised of past and present members, brought across key messages through singing, dancing, and acting - stressing to students and parents alike the importance of making safe choices, abstaining, positive parenting, etc.


Specifically, the edutainment package included, first, "Parenting Vibes in a World of Sexuality". Parents came out to see the production, which focuses on using positive parenting tools (communication, discipline, knowledge) instead of negative parenting tools (preaching, mixed messages, corporal punishment). After the production, Ashe's Executive Artistic Director launched a discussion with the parents about what the musical portrayed. Some of the parents even admitted that they were guilty of practicing some of the negative parenting tools. The next show was a back-to-back performance of "Safe Stupid or What!", a talk-show-like musical about making safe reproductive health choices. Ashe performed it twice to an audience of students: both a primary school audience and a group of older students (high school). With the latter group, there was a sense of prevalence of the issues portrayed, so the discussion following the performance was more colourful. "Safe, Stupid or What" formed part of the company's annual Season of Excellence, which opened in October 2010. Then, it was taken to schools as a part of an intervention which also included several follow-up visits and one-on-one sessions with students to discuss the various issues in the musical and to help students use song, dance, and drama to develop and portray messages relevant to them and their peers on the issues of reproductive health and sexuality, with a particular focus on HIV/AIDS.

Development Issues: 

Youth, Sexual and Reproductive Health, HIV/AIDS, Governance.

Key Points: 

Ashe is a Yoruba word used in Western Africa spirituality that means "the strength, the power and the God within." Launched in 1993, Ashe is a non-governmental professional edutainment and theatre arts company that is committed to the preservation and renewal of Jamaican and Afro-Caribbean culture. The Ashe Company is the umbrella organisation for:

  • The Ashe Performing Arts Ensemble, which consists of a full-time cast of professional artists who provide entertainment and edutainment presentation services, locally and around the world. Their work entails self-development and transformation, advanced training in the performing arts, creation and performance of edutainment musicals and products, choreography, scriptwriting, and teaching and project implementation at The Ashe Academy and The Ashe Edutainment Institute.
  • The Ashe Academy, which offers training in singing, dancing, acting, and drumming to new generations of performers and artistes. Ultimately, The Academy will take the form of a private secondary educational institution, preparing students for regional and international examinations, as well as theatre arts and edutainment education, utilising Ashe's EIC methodology in the classroom.
  • The Ashe Edutainment Institute, which provides certified edutainment training, consultancy, project management, implementation, and social intervention training services. The Institute operates under the principles of Ashe's edutainment methodology, dubbed the EIC methodology.
See video

Emails from Conroy B. Wilson to Soul Beat Africa and The Communication Initiative on March 10 2010 and July 22 2010, respectively; Ashe Performing Arts Company website, April 6 2010; and email from Jomain McKenzie to The Communication Initiative on October 22 2012.

The Evaluation of Guidance Counselor Training for Vibes

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Publication Date
May 12, 2005

Carried out by Family Health International (FHI) and Hope Enterprises, Inc., this evaluation explores the "Vibes" methodology as introduced in September 2001 to 108 guidance counsellors w


Email from Conroy B. Wilson to Soul Beat Africa on March 10 2010; and Ashe Performing Arts Company website and FHI website, both accessed April 6 2010.


Qualitative Assessment of Outta Road, an Entertainment-Education Radio Soap Opera for Jamaican Adolescents

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Scott Connolly
Katie Elmore
Wendi Stein
Publication Date
August 1, 2008

Population Media Center (PMC)


PMC website, accessed September 23 2009.


Outta Road

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Communication Strategies: 

Outta Road is the story of Jamaican teens and young adults from different social strata whose lives are interconnected. The drama is designed for 10-19 year olds across Jamaica, who through identification with transitional characters could vicariously experience the repercussions of their life choices. The social ills identified through nationwide formative research conducted by PMC in January 2006 helped guide the development of characters and plot lines. The characters grapple with conflicts ranging from love, friendship, peer pressure, violence, sex, drugs, HIV/AIDS, and more. Interspersed amongst dramatic conflicts and natural dialogue was popular reggae music. Outta Road also used epilogues to provide listeners with more information about the topics addressed and issues raised, such as where to access adolescent-friendly centres offering services like substance abuse counselling, HIV testing and contraception, and dispute resolution.


The messages in Outta Road, some episodes of which may be listened to online, were reinforced by flyers, pamphlets, handbooks, and good parenting calendars distributed by JA-STYLE to encourage further discussion among listeners. This supplemental information, what PMC refers to as the Whole Society Strategy, helped to reinforce lessons learned through the programme and provided another platform for discussion. Also, listening groups were established in schools as a part of the guidance curriculum. Youth listened to the programmes in a classroom setting and were also given CDs to bring home to listen to and share with their friends. Guidance counsellors used the programme as a stimulus for discussion about the difficult and highly sensitive issues addressed in Outta Road.

Development Issues: 

Youth, HIV/AIDS, Relationships, Substance Abuse.

Key Points: 

A quantitative evaluation conducted at the conclusion of the programme found that:

  • 31% of the adolescents surveyed had heard of Outta Road.
  • 32% of listeners had discussed the Outta Road drama with friends.
  • 56% of listeners were motivated by Outta Road to seek healthy lifestyles services (e.g., those related to reproductive health, substance abuse, parenting, parent-child relationships, sexuality, and conflict resolution).


In April 2008, PMC also conducted a qualitative assessment of Outta Road; click here to access that report in PDF format.

Partner Text: 


See video

Outta Road description [PDF], PMC, August 2008.

Survey of ICT and Education in the Caribbean: Volume 1 - Regional Trends and Analysis; Volume 2 - Country Reports

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Publication Date
January 1, 2009

This Survey of ICT and Education in the Caribbean: Volume 1 - Regional Trends and Analysis; Volume 2 - Country Reports comprises 16 country reports, primarily Small Islands Developing States (SIDS), that provide an overview of the current activities and developments related to information and communication technology (ICT) use in education in each country.


infoDev website on March 3 2009.


Multi-Country Consultation on Reducing the Impact of Small Arms and Light Weapons on Children and Their Communities: What Works?

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Publication Date
May 1, 2008

Emails from Bertrand Bainvel to The Communication Initiative on March 5 2008 and June 4 2008.


Making Global Fund Country Coordinating Mechanisms Work through Full Engagement of Civil Society

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On-the-Ground Research in Argentina, Cambodia, Cameroon, India, Jamaica, Romania, and Uganda

Publication Date
October 1, 2008

This International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC) report looks at the functioning of the Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) in seven countries - Argentina, Cambodia, Cameroon, India, Jamaica, Romania, and Uganda - with a particular focus on civil society (CS) engagement in CCMs. Research teams sought to understand whether and how CS has had meaningful involvement in the design and monitoring of Global Fund-supported programming, and, ultimately, how CS can be most effective in improving delivery of Global Fund-supported services.


Email from Pankaj Anand to The Communication Initiative on May 27 2010.

Caring and Learning Together: A Cross-National Study on the Integration of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) within Education

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Yoshie Kaga
John Bennett
Peter Moss
Publication Date
January 1, 2010

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

This United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) study offers an assessment of the policy of integrating the responsibility for early childhood care and education (ECC


Zunia website, July 22 2010.

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