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Support for people to build the capacities and skills necessary to engage in social and political processes

Ab Shasan Humro Hoi

This grassroots comics campaign on children's participation in local governance was organised in December 2009 by World Comics India in collaboration with Adithi-Plan.

Communication Strategies: 

World Comics India has created a methodology - the "grassroots comics campaign" - that it has applied to several social change efforts (click here for other examples). As World Comics India's founder, Sharad Sharma, explains in his Grassroots Comics Campaign Manual, grassroots comics are comics which are not prepared by professional artists, but by socially aware people themselves, based on their own views. The idea is that people can tell their own stories using the comics format, i.e. storytelling with a combination of images and texts. Through a series of workshops, ordinary people learn that "making grassroots comics is relatively easy and does not require heavy duty technical expertise of any kind. All one needs is a story, paper, pen and access to photocopying."

Recognising the power of being able to share their views with other people, comic drawers like the children participating in Ab Shasan Humro Hoi prepare black-and-white comics for distribution at a local level. After photocopying, the grassroots comics are pasted up in places where people gather leisurely, and in schools, at bus stops, in shops and offices, on notice boards, and even on electricity poles. "Only when the comics are distributed in the society, they make an impact. People become informed of new ways of thinking, and at best, the messages in the comics create local debate." There is also an experience of rallying - as is best communicated by viewing the series of photos available here - whereby children march with their comics on the streets and spark debate. As Sharma explains, "The close connection is the most important point here. The readers and the people who have made the comics are not very different from each other. Common people of the society, who feel strongly about some issues, prepare the campaign material themselves, instead of getting them done by an artist from the capital or abroad [the material produced will often lack a local touch, local language, and local culture]. One of the most important things...is the fact that when a wallposter comic is on view, not only a message is conveyed, but also debate takes place."

In short, "Grassroots comics help local people to bring forward their own issues and experiences by framing them in a visual story. Once the technique of making comics is understood by people, then they can prepare comics on almost any issue in a very short time."

Development Issues: 

Children, Governance.

Key Points: 

After viewing and discussing with children the comics they produced as part of Ab Shasan Humro Hoi, the Village Head sanctioned 2 hand pumps when children reported a water scarcity problem in school and village. Sharma shares another example of impact: Rinku studies in Class 8 and was quite angry at the garbage lying next to her classroom. She drew a comic and sent it to her ward member and soon the school compound was cleaned. Here is a summary of the text of her 8-page comic "My Beautiful School" (see above for an image of the comic): "People are annoyed by the stench that surrounds an otherwise beautiful school. The children go about complaining to people but not many show concern. A teacher understands the gravity of the situation and complains to the ward member. The ward member gets the school cleaned immediately. Further dumping in the area is also stopped. The children noticing the clean unused space now decide to plant trees there. The school that once smelt foul now looks very beautiful and it even has a pretty garden in its backyard."

Partner Text: 

World Comics India and Adithi-Plan.

Source: 

OURMEDIA-L listserv, December 28 2009; email from Sharad Sharma to The Communication Initiative on January 27 2010; and World Comics India website, January 27 2010.

Radio Salus

Radio Salus (derived from the Latin word "salut", meaning salvation) was established in 2005 at the National University of Rwanda as a result of a project implemented by the United Nations Educational

Communication Strategies: 

Radio Salus broadcasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and organisers say its programming reaches the entire population of Rwanda, as well as neighbouring communities in DRC and Burundi.

The radio station team, which includes professional journalists and journalism students, produces a variety of news, educational, and entertainment programming broadcast in Kinyarwanda, Swahili, English, and French. According to organisers, each week more than 25 different programmes are broadcast on a broad range of topics including education, agriculture, health, HIV/AIDS, Rwandan history, news, conflict management, sports, and coffee (a long-established, but not well understood industry in the country).

In advance of the August 2009 elections, journalists from the station received training specific to election coverage, including election laws and rules, understanding the Rwandan journalists' code of conduct during elections, the professional standards of free and fair elections, and covering elections independently and professionally.

According to the radio station, the training of students and professionals at the radio station has become a key determinant in diversifying media programming in Rwanda and in building confidence in private radio as a viable means of mass media. Radio Salus has reportedly also managed to empower Rwandan youth, women, and disabled people. Through its educational programmes on economy, environment, HIV/AIDS, health and history, organisers say that it has become a socio-economic development tool for many Rwandans. For example, Radio Salus has contributed to educating local small businessmen and women on how to advertise their products and services. In addition, it has supported and promoted young artists by giving them the opportunity to publicise their new songs.

Development Issues: 

Democracy, Media Development.

Key Points: 

As of November 2008, more than 100 young journalists had received training through Radio Salus, and many students continue to work there as trainee journalists. The station's sports programme has been rated the top radio programme in the country.

Partner Text: 

United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Contact Information: 
Source: 

National University of Rwanda website and UNESCO website - both accessed on January 12 2010.

Khululeka Siyavota

Khululeka Siyavota is a drama series, initiated by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) Education Department, which is designed to address issues related to voter education, the secrecy o

Communication Strategies: 

The 13-episode series is set in the Western Cape, and focuses on the extended Zwane family, their friends, and community. It addresses apathy among the youth, alienation, and disillusionment of voters while taking a human rights approach - exploring individual and group rights as underpinned by the South African constitution. It also examines issues of accountability and transparency of those holding public office and highlights institutions of democracy that support the community. The series places emphasis on individuals taking responsibly and taking part in the elections. According to organisers, the show intends to remind viewers that their vote is their voice and every vote has the power to make a difference.

Khululeka Siyavota is part of a larger ID Ur-Self NOW! campaign which went on road shows in 5 different provinces. The campaign encouraged 16-year olds to get their ID document to be able to vote in the future, and urged 18-year olds to get their ID documents in order to vote in the 2009 elections.

The series was broadcast on SABC 2 every Sunday evening for 13 weeks beginning January 4 2009.

Development Issues: 

Democracy and Governance, Youth

Partner Text: 

Penguin Films, SABC Education, Independent Electoral Commission

Contact Information: 
Source: 

Khululka Siyavota press release on December 10 2008; and Penguin Films website, February 24 2010.

Africa Good Governance Programme on the Radio Waves

The Africa Good Governance Programme on the Radio Waves is a project of the World Bank Institute (WBI), launched in 2006, to support local government capacity building and community empowerment via ra
Communication Strategies: 

The objective of the project was to support local government capacity building and community empowerment through transmission of key information related to anti-corruption, civic participation, and fiscal decentralisation. The programme stems from the lessons learned from the Local Government on the Radio Waves pilot project held in Malawi in 2003.

The programme included 4 different components:

  1. Governing Municipalities without Corruption - this programme was designed with all of Africa in mind, but particular attention was paid to municipal national associations from Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, and Uganda. Key stakeholders from central government and non-governmental institutions were involved directly in its design and content. All local governments and members of civil society were invited to participate in this learning programme to combat corruption. The programme was produced in both English and Swahili to increase outreach to stakeholder groups.
  2. Civic Participation – this programme introduced listeners to concepts, definitions, and tools regarding civic participation and governance. The course featured four modules: Principles of Community-Driven Development, Strategic Planning for Communities, Civic Participation and Local Governance, and Participatory Monitoring & Evaluation. Listeners learned why participating in their community's development was important, and how to effectively engage in their own local governance. They also learned tools such as setting goals and forming action plans, and gained knowledge on how to hold local governments and organisations accountable through monitoring and evaluation methods.
  3. Municipal Finance/Participatory Budgeting – this programme presented a step-by-step methodology on how municipal government can work collaboratively with the community in order to define, execute, monitor, and evaluate a budget which reflects the priorities and needs of the population. The course focused on both revenue generation in budget formulation and on defining public expenditures within the context of limited means. In addition, the course emphasised how to ensure that the budget mobilises and motivates the contribution of both the community and the private sector. Given that each country has their own internal budgetary processes, the course was not intended to replace or change existing systems, but, rather, to complement and improve the overall municipal budgeting experience.
  4. Africa Municipal News Magazines – the objective of this programme was to ensure that the news of municipal governance was known throughout Africa. In addition, the monthly news magazine presented lessons learned from past practice and emphasised how to avoid errors and mistakes. The magazine intended to give voice to municipal government in Africa ensuring that local governments were linked through knowledge and news. The magazine took as its principal source the Africa Local Government Action Forum (ALGAF) but was also open to contributions by listeners and interested institutions. Each municipal association was invited to participate, thereby hopefully ensuring relevance and impact. A summary of the programme was then prepared in written form and posted on partner home pages and sent as a news release to national and local journalists in order to foster local dissemination.


Three of the programmes - Governing Municipalities without Corruption, Civic Participation, and Municipal Finance/Participatory Budgeting - were structured as formal capacity-building initiatives. The fourth component, Africa Municipal News Magazine, used a magazine format and served as an umbrella programme to disseminate information, share experiences, and provide news to municipal stakeholders in the region. The three capacity-building initiatives use an interactive methodology that promotes active participation in the learning programme.

Development Issues: 

Democracy and Governance.

Key Points: 

The goal of the learning programmes was the elaboration of action plans by the participants (mayors, local public officials, members of local communities, and representatives of civil society) that could be incorporated into ongoing reform work and had the potential to be replicated in other municipalities and countries.

The first component of the programme - Governing Municipalities without Corruption - started on July 14 2005. The other components started in early 2006, and ran until June 2006. The programme was broadcast in English, and there were plans to include local languages (French and Portuguese).

Partner Text: 

WBI, First Voice, Municipal Development Partnership for Eastern and Southern Africa (MDP-ESA), and the national associations of local governments.

Contact Information: 
Source: 

World Bank website on February 17 2007 and July 23 2009.

Political Crisis, Mediated Deliberation and Citizen Engagement: A Case Study of Bangladesh and Nirbachoni Sanglap

Author: 
Veena V. Raman
Anurudra Bhanot
Publication Date
November 3, 2008
Affiliation: 

Pennsylvania State University (Raman); BBC World Service Trust (Bhanot)

Accepted by the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) Conference, held in Mexico City, Mexico, July 21-24 2009, this 32-page paper examines the role of the media in Bangladesh during emergency rule through a look at television and radio debates designed to foster awareness and conversations among citizens and to engage them politically.

It does so through a case study of the following BBC World Service Trust (BBC WST) initiatives:

Contact Information: 
Source: 

Email from Emily LeRoux-Rutledge to The Communication Initiative on October 1 2009.

A Campaign Manual for Women Candidates in the Sierra Leone Local Government Elections

Subtitle: 
Promoting Women's Participation
Publication Date
Publication Date: 
December 1, 2008

Developed by the National Democratic Institute (NDI), this 23-page training manual is designed to train women candidates in campaigning for local elections.

Cost: 
Free to download
Languages: 

English

Number of Pages: 

23

Contact Information: 
Source: 

National Democratic Institute website on December 16 2008 and January 25 2010.

Managing Mobilisation? Participatory Processes and Dam Building in South Africa, the Berg River Project

Author: 
Lisa Thompson
Publication Date
November 15, 2005
Affiliation: 

Institute of Development Studies (IDS)

This 47-page research paper on water resource management focuses on the attempt by some countries to neutralise criticism of their water management policies by creating formal spaces for public consul

Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association (EWLA)

Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association (EWLA) is an organisation that has been working since 1995 to raise awareness of women's legal rights in Ethiopia using diverse media such as newsletters and the in
Communication Strategies: 

In an effort to inventory laws that discriminate against women, ELWA carries out research and law reform advocacy. Specifically, the association commissions research on laws which directly or indirectly affect women and their rights. The findings of this research are used as the basis for advocacy and an entry point for national debate.

EWLA uses newsletters, the media, and the internet to get its message across. For example, EWLA also has a 10-minute educational radio programme that airs once a week on the national Radio Service (Saturday mornings from 8:40am to 8:50am). The association also has a documentation centre that provides reading materials on women’s issues and other related matters to students and individual researchers. These communication tools are meant to ensure that EWLA's research on the social, economic and political impact of discrimination against women reaches key people in government and throughout civil society.

Interpersonal approaches also characterise ELWA's work. The organisation has an ongoing public education training programme for women on women's rights, assertiveness and reproductive health and rights. The objective of the training is to enhance awareness on women's rights among female students and women workers.

Development Issues: 

Rights, Women, Gender.

Key Points: 

ELWA aims to:

  • assist Ethiopia in the preparation, implementation and monitoring of a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy
  • strengthen and provide local security and access to justice
  • strengthen the capacity of Ethiopian civil society organisations
  • support prisoners' rights in Ethiopia through Prison Fellowship Ethiopia, which lobbies for adequate services and support for prisoners, ex-prisoners and their families.


The organisation believes that, “Although [women’s legal rights] are enshrined in the country’s constitution, women still face legal and traditional discrimination as well as unequal treatment in education, employment and access to public services.”

Partner Text: 

Department for International Development (DFID) Ethiopia.

Source: 

DFID website on January 18 2005; and EWLA website on July 26 2005.

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