Resilience and Humanitarian Response: Helping People Deal with Risk, Respond to Change and Cope with Emergencies

"At BBC Media Action, the BBC’s international development charity, we believe that media and communication can help people become more resilient and recover more swiftly from disaster."

Dream, Save, Do: Financial Empowerment for Families

"The ability to make careful choices, plan, and save is essential for positive health, education, and overall life outcomes. As with so many other critical life skills, establishing a foundation for...

Delivering digital stories in contexts with no grid power and Internet

Author: Ephraim Mhlanga, June 29 2015 - How do we deliver digital stories in contexts where there are power and connectivity issues?

White supremacy, black liberation, and global development: The conversations we're not having

Author Jennifer Lentfer, June 28 2015 - Below all of the talk of "evidence-based approaches" and "taking it to scale," there is an undercurrent of disquiet.

Family Planning in Latin America and the Caribbean: The Achievements of 50 Years

This report and its accompanying case studies on Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Paraguay examine "the 50-year period starting in the mid-1960s...

African Storybook Project (ASP)

"Our vision is for all African children to have enough stories in a language familiar to them to practise reading and learn to love reading."  South African Institute for Distance Education...

#authenticate Campaign

"We can no longer accept the use of cell lines that have not been authenticated as a normal part of the research process. Cell authentication is a key element towards improved research fidelity. We...

3 Ways To Create Buy-In for True Customer-Centric Design

Author: Elizabeth Drachman, June 23 2015 - The “Customer Centric Design for Ag Programs” breakout session at this year’s ICTforAg conference sounded like a simple one. We design programs to help...
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The Communication Initiative Network and Partnership convenes the communication and media for development, social and behavioural change community to share knowledge, connect, debate relevant issues, and critically review each other's work in order to advance effective development action across and between all development priorities. Contact Warren


This article describes social franchising in the health sector. It is a model that organises small, independent health care businesses into quality-assured networks and "has been shown to improve quality, client satisfaction, and access to...

Author: BBC Media Action blogger Maha Taki, June 22 2015 - An elderly man, one eye milky blue with age, peers into the camera. Immediately behind him lie neat rows of white tarpaulin shelters, walls flapping in the wind.

"Each person...

This guide, Steps to Engaging Children in Research: The Researcher Toolkit and Methods in Context, complements the first volume of this pair: Steps to Engaging Young Children in Research Volume 1: The Guide [See related...

"The Researcher Toolkit and Researcher Resource have been developed to support researchers to include young children in research; particularly children aged 5-8 years of age."

The project "Transparency for peace and development" was established in Cundinamarca, Santander and North Santander, Colombia, to create opportunities for dialogue between state institutions and civil society in order to enable an approach of...

Author: Fennovia Matakala, June 19 2015 - A sea of serious faces looked to the front of the local council chambers. Shuffling in anticipation, the crowd exchanged excited whispers.

Looking like they were attending the start of a high-...

"Healthy Start is WaterAid’s four-year (2015-2019) campaign focused on improving the health and nutrition of newborn babies and children."

The campaign aims to bring forward the evidence of "access to clean water for hygiene" on lowering...

Author: Dr. Ranu S. Dhillon, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, June 16 2015 - The CHW Reference Guide was produced under the Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program, the United States Agency for International...

Lilian Kiefer

Author: Lilian Kiefer, June 19 2015 - Discrimination and marginalisation have lasting effects in that they take away human dignity. Discrimination means to be treated in a negatively different way because of certain real or perceived...

Author: Ranjani K. Murthy, June 15 2015 - When I asked women and men from six Chennai [India] slums: "What are the changes - positive and negative - you have seen in the last five years in the institutions of marriage, family, markets and state...

This Sesame Workshop initiative consists of a multi-media intervention to promote positive health behaviours in children ages three to seven years and their caregivers in Bangladesh, India, and Nigeria - with a focus on some of the economically...

Mamoletsane Khati

Author: Mamoletsane Khati, June 11 2015 - African children suffer from neglect, deprivation, poor nutrition, poor access to health services, violence and other harmful social and cultural practices that affect children’s wellbeing and expose...

"...the widespread penetration and use of phones in Somalia meant that it was appropriate for reaching hard-to-reach communities and represented a relevant mechanism to deliver health and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) information."...

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Strengthening Community Participation in Early and Pre-school Bilingual Intercultural Education (APEDIBIMI)

This early and pre-school bilingual programme for girls and boys of the Maya Ixchil indigenous community has been developed in the department of El Quiché, Guatemala through community participation

Communication Strategies: 

The APEDIBIMI methodology intends to optimise early education through the joint efforts of various actors including APEDIBIMI, the Guatemalan Ministry of Education the communities, and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). The Ixil indigenous area of the province of Quiché has 20 bilingual Ixil/Spanish nursery schools decorated with bright colours, drawings, and bilingual posters. When children come to school, each chooses one of three ‘corners’ identified in the classroom: language and communication; logical thinking; or artistic expression. After spending some time in these corners, they gather around for a ‘dialogue in chorus’ to openly express themselves. Both languages are spoken in the school by children and adults. Teachers are selected from the community. The parents are directly involved in the educational process, going over at home what the children have learned in the classroom and collaborating on making classroom toys or preparing school snacks.

UNICEF implements workshops to keep teachers updated, train mothers in early education, and deliver support materials. The programme trains mothers of children under three on the importance of early education, stimulation, and health care. Workshops include capacity building for health promoters and teachers and organised circles of interaction on themes related to the curriculum, including comparing it to the national standards.

Meetings of parents in the programme include local community leaders and elaborate what the community and parents can do to support the schools. These meetings also provide parents with guidance on how to support their children's education.

Development Issues: 

Education, Children

Key Points: 

The project focuses on the geographic region called the Ixil triangle, identified by the centralised communities of Nebaj, Chajul, and Cotzal. In 2005, the project included 40 teachers, 25 health promoters, 1,771 children from 0-6 years old, and 700 parents. Community- and school-based projects included a festival of stories and legends for children, a document on the rights of children, an exchange of information and experiences among the promoters and teachers from all the communities, a student exchange of experiences for those entering first grade, and special attention for the needs of 34 youths. Parents met to make toys from local materials for the schools. The education ministry (MINEDUC) certified the teachers and registered the schools. MINEDUC is also involved with ongoing curriculum formation and provision of materials.

Partner Text: 

APEDIBIMI, UNICEF, Ministry of Education, Bernard van Leer Foundation, Volens/Itinerans, Global Fund for Children, Proyecto Ixil, Red de Información para el Pueblo (the Information Network for the People), Centro de Comunicación Comunitaria Ixil (The Centre of Community Communication Ixil), SERJUS - Servicios Juridicos y Sociales (Legal and Social Services), the Work Group.


The UNICEF website and the Volens America website, December 15 2010. Image: UNICEF Guatemala

Supporting the Peace Process in Guatemala

Since 1997, the international peacebuilding organisation Interpeace has been working with 8 national partners of Foro de Organizaciones Sociales en Temas de Seguridad (FOSS) to support the peace proce

Communication Strategies: 

This initiative uses interpersonal communication in an effort to strengthen the capacity of civil society organisations specialising in security issues to work with the state (from the military to the police, Parliament, and the Office of the President) to elaborate public policy and establish mechanisms for citizen control and monitoring of the security sector. It is implemented in partnership with 8 FOSS national partners and in close collaboration with the Congress and the Advisory Council on Security, which serves as an institutionalised platform between civil society and the Office of the President. This collaborative strategy is designed to create a constructive relationship between political institutions and local citizens in order to formulate more effective public policies.

In its third phase, the initiative is continuing along these strategic lines, working together with the state to support the implementation of the National Security System, which FOSS staff have played a central role in developing. Interpeace is also working to strengthen the capacity of civil society groups to participate in the advancement of democratic security, to the end of hopefully allowing these groups to make informed joint policy proposals and inputs to legislative debates. Finally, organisers are facilitating focused face-to-face dialogues between the state and civil society on various aspects of democratic security and consolidating the institutional mechanisms for such dialogue.

Development Issues: 

Conflict, Democracy and Governance.

Key Points: 

According to Interpeace, years after the signing of the Peace Accords on December 28 1996 that brought a formal end to 36 years of brutal civil war, Guatemala remains a fragile democracy. It has seen a rise in violent crime, the growing threat of youth gangs (pandillas or maras), and drug trafficking and money laundering. The homicide rate is higher than during the civil war. In this context, "[s]ecurity has become a primary concern for both the population and the political elite. In turn, rising insecurity is encouraging repressive measures with a recourse to autocratic habits and army involvement in what should be domestic police responsibility. These trends threaten basic democratic principles and institutions, including human rights and public confidence in the state and its institutions. Confronted by all these challenges, the ability of the Guatemalan state to formulate and implement policies remains weak. Security problems constitute the main threat to democratic governance and reflect the unfinished security sector reform processes spelled out in the Peace Agreements."

Partner Text: 

Asociación de Investigación y Estudios Sociales (ASIES), Asociación para el Estudio y Promoción de la Seguridad Democrática (SEDEM), Centro de Estudios de Guatemala (CEG), Fundación Myrna Mack (FMM), Incidencia Democrática (IDEM), Instituto de Enseñanza para el Desarrollo Sostenible (IEPADES), Instituto de Estudios Comparados en Ciencias Penales de Guatemala (ICCPG), Universidad Rafael Landívar (URL).

Contact Information: 

International Development Research Centre (IDRC)'s Lasting Impacts: "Countries in Transition", June 2010 - forwarded from Bill Carman to The Communication Initiative on June 10 2010; and the Interpeace website, October 29 2010. Image credit: © Sandra Sebastian

Maya Salud (Mayan Health)

Launched in 2005, Save the Children United States (USA)'s 4-year Maya Salud project worked to bring high-quality sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services to 51,985 women and men of reproductive a

Communication Strategies: 

To achieve its aims, Maya Salud engaged a range of constituents as equals in a process that built local capacities to improve and monitor the quality of SRH services: community members, Ministry of Health (MOH) representatives, Cooperativa Todos Nebajenses or Cooperative of the People of Nebaj (COTONEB), and community health workers (CHW) - MOH volunteers who receive a stipend to provide certain health services in rural communities.

Maya Salud used a methodology that Save the Children calls Partnership Defined Quality (PDQ), which was developed in 2000 and has since been implemented in more than 18 countries. (click here for a related toolkit in PDF format.) PDQ engages community members in improving and monitoring the quality of their health services, and is shaped by the awareness that solutions to health service problems might lie outside the formal health system.

Representatives of 88 communities and of the health system jointly examined and improved SRH services according to this 4-phase PDQ process:

  1. Building Support: Save the Children staff held a series of meetings with residents who could represent their communities' concerns to the health system and with local, district, and national service providers, including the MOH and COTONEB. In all, Maya Salud achieved acceptance of the PDQ process in 88 communities (or 92% of target) over the life of the project.
  2. Exploring Quality: 5 Maya Salud field staff guided community groups and service provider groups - separately - to explore their perceptions of what constitutes a quality health service, particularly in matters of SRH. Each group developed its own definition of quality by considering its members' needs, resources, rights and responsibilities, and cultural heritage. Each group also explored the benefits of a partnership between community and health workers.
  3. Bridging the Gap: In each community, the residents' group and the health workers' group brought their definitions and characteristics of quality health care to a joint forum. They presented their own and heard each other's ideas and perspectives. In each case, Maya Salud staff guided the 2 groups to form a team and develop a shared vision of quality. Together, each team then identified and prioritised problems and constraints that made it difficult to achieve quality health services within the community. Each of the 88 participating communities established its own Quality Improvement Team (QIT) composed of a subset of community members and health workers.
  4. Working in Partnership: Through dialogue and analysis, the QITs explored the root causes of inadequate quality of services and identified appropriate, feasible solutions for reaching the desired level of quality. The resulting Quality Improvement Plans delineated actions to fill gaps in knowledge, skills, or attitudes at 2 levels: community/client (service demand) and community/provider (service supply). The QITs also established goals and identified indicators to monitor progress and determine when a goal had been achieved.

Here are a few examples of activities that the QITs undertook in their Quality Implementation Plans.

Building demand:

  • Peer networks called Amigas/Amigos (friends) were established in participating communities. Amigas and Amigos learned the basics of FP, including modern methods, peer counselling, and referral (and sometimes accompaniment) to health facilities.
  • Maya Salud developed and distributed a Contraception Sample Kit to help the Amigas/Amigos, MOH service providers, and CHWs show which methods are available, what they look like, and how they work. The kit was designed to demystify contraception for new users who could touch, see, and ask questions about methods in an informal environment.
  • Maya Salud trained 1,000 QIT members to mobilise their peers and community members to promote social change. Likewise, 1,000 QIT members learned the basics of family planning (FP) and modern contraceptive methods so that they, too, could promote them and counsel others in their use.

Building supply:

  • The MOH and COTONEB trained more than 200 health workers in FP and SRH counseling.
  • 80 CHWs learned the basics of SRH and modern contraception, counselling, and information dissemination. In the most remote communities, the CHWs dispensed condoms, pills, and quarterly injections to new users who did not have the time, resources, or confidence to travel dozens of miles to seek contraception from the nearest health facility.
  • One community built a new post, and 3 more rehabilitated their posts to provide comfortable, confidential FP services. In one case this involved building a wall to create more privacy; in others, interiors were painted and basic furniture built. Some clinics changed their operating hours to better suit the needs of clients who worked long days in the fields.
  • QITs and Maya Salud partnered with APROFAM (the Guatemalan branch of International Planned Parenthood Federation) to bring 5 mobile clinics to the most remote of villages. The clinics offered voluntary tubal ligations and vasectomies, Jadelle® implants, and gynaecological exams including pap smears. "Such services had never before been offered in these far-flung hamlets."
  • Maya Salud staff gauged client satisfaction with SRH services via exit interviews, monitored contraceptive stocks, and observed service delivery to clients as appropriate. Staff shared the results with the QITs as a way to ensure consistent application.
Development Issues: 

Sexual and Reproductive Health.

Key Points: 

The Ixil Triangle, deep in the highlands of western Guatemala, is an isolated area home to the Ixil Maya, who make a living from their farms and looms. Ixil's remoteness and near-invisibility on the national stage made it a target during Guatemala's civil war (1960-1996). A rebel group established its headquarters there; hundreds of civilians lost their lives. Not surprisingly, the people of the Ixil Triangle have learned to be wary of outsiders. At the same time, the disconnect between them and social services has exacted a toll, as indicated by data such as the following (cited by Save the Children):

  • 82% of residents live on less than US$2 per day (versus 52% nationwide).
  • More than 60% of Ixil's girls do not attend school and a mere 20% complete their primary education.
  • Maternal mortality is estimated at 277 deaths per 100,000 live births (the national average is 153).
  • Infant mortality rates reach 66 deaths per 1,000 live births (versus 47 nationally).
  • In Ixil, girls marry young - some as young as 12 - and experience an average of 10 pregnancies before the end of their reproductive years.
  • Studies from 2002 and 2003 revealed that just 20% of women in Ixil had healthy birth spacing, and only 28% were using any form of effective contraception - even though 56% did not want to become pregnant in the next year.
  • Just 13% received information on SRH during visits to their closest health post, which in some instances was as far as 38 miles from home.

According to organisers, "Often, health workers in rural Guatemala are trained to dispense contraceptives upon request, but they have not learned to counsel and inform, or to consider cultural taboos, the sensitivity of the issue, and the gender divide between the (typically) male service provider and the (typically) female contraception seeker."

Endline research (2009) found that, by the end of the 4-year project, the number of couples using safe and effective FP methods had more than doubled, and the contraceptive prevalence rate had surpassed 33%.

Partner Text: 

Save the Children, MOH, COTONEB, APROFAM. Funded through a subgrant from the US Agency for International Development (USAID)'s Flexible Fund.


Improving Family Planning by Creating Community-Service Provider Partnerships in Guatemala [PDF], Save the Children - forwarded to the CORE Group Child Survival (CS) Community listserv, December 2 2009. Photo credit: ACME Producciones/Hugo Gonzalez

Violence, Power and Participation: Building Citizenship in Contexts of Chronic Violence

Jenny Pearce
Publication Date
March 1, 2007

University of Bradford

This 66-page Institute of Development Studies (IDS) Working Paper (#274) explores civil society participation in two contexts of chronic violence.

Contact Information: 

id21News, Number 251, July 2008; and "Ending the Culture of Violence in Latin America" on the id21News website.

Using Radio for Budget Advocacy: Stories from Azerbaijan, Guatemala, Georgia, Indonesia, Kenya, and Uganda

Publication Date
July 1, 2007

This article, published in the International Budget Partnership's bimonthly newsletter (Volume 39, May-June 2007), describes civil society organisation efforts to use radio as part of larger budget ad


International Budget Partnership website, Bimonthly No. 39, Newsletter, May - June 2007; and ACCU website, April 19 2010.

National Center for Health Marketing's Global Communication and Marketing Team

Communication Strategies: 

The Global Communication & Marketing Team's activities focus on health communication and marketing strategies, eHealth, and emergency and risk communication. Sample projects include:


Health Communication & Marketing Strategies

  • Conduct KAB [knowledge, attitudes, and behaviour] survey and test messages and materials in support of a rabies prevention and control communication campaign (China)
  • Implement targeted communication of hospital infection control guidelines (Kenya)
  • Develop a communication and marketing strategy for micronutrient food fortification to improve maternal and child health (Central America)



  • Pilot the use of new ICT networks for health communication in rural settings (Kenya)
  • Support use of ICT for training and communication with the public health workforce (HIV/AIDS monitoring and evaluation (M&E) - China, Laboratory Biosafety - Central America, Hospital Infection Control - Kenya)
  • Collaborate with partners to test mobile communication technology methods to support Directly Observed Therapy of tuberculosis (TB) patients (Kenya)
  • Pilot use of mobile short message service (SMS) technology to support blood donor outreach (Kenya)


Emergency and Risk Communication

  • Assess emergency communication system capacity (multiple countries)
  • Develop and implement exercises to test risk communication plans (Central America)
  • Test US-based emergency risk communication principles for cultural appropriateness (China)
  • Conduct emergency risk communication training and planning workshops (Kenya, Nigeria)
  • Conduct survey of health communication needs of earthquake survivors (China)

Addressing HIV/AIDS through Partnership

Communication Strategies: 

This initiative draws on the power of partnership to make change. The official signing of the Declaration happened at the opening ceremony of the National Medical Association's 50th Anniversary Congress, which took place November 28 to December 1 2007 (World AIDS Day). The United States (US) Ambassador in Guatemala joined with other high-level officials in the Guatemala medical community to announce and explain the partnership between USAID's PSP-One project and the Guatemala Medical Association to mobilise and train private providers to deliver quality HIV/AIDS counselling and testing. In addition to the official signing of the declaration in support of private providers' participation in HIV/AIDS prevention, all Congress attendants were encouraged to sign an online version.

As part of the specialised courses offered at that conference, the Medical Association and PSP-One Guatemala organised training courses, such as one designed for private physicians on HIV/AIDS counselling and testing. As part of this particular event, 55 private physicians attended a 5-hour training course taught by several of Guatemala's professionals from the country's HIV/AIDS integrated treatment centres. The curriculum was designed specially to address the challenges private providers encounter in their daily private practice. Topics focused on the epidemiology of HIV/AIDS in Guatemala, clinical suspicion and diagnostic approaches, an introduction to HIV/AIDS tests and national diagnostic algorithms, and an overview of the HIV/AIDS law and national counselling guidelines. An automated person-response system was designed to facilitate the monitoring of the acquired knowledge on these key topics throughout the training activity.

Development Issues: 


Key Points: 

Abt Associates reports that HIV prevalence in Guatemala is estimated at just under 1%, with MARPs such as commercial sex workers (CSW) and men who have sex with men (MSM) making up 36% of the total number of people living with HIV and AIDS. Organisers note that the private sector plays an important role in this fight, with many clients getting tested for HIV in private clinics and private labs; however, "there is evidence of serious weaknesses in this sector, such as the lack of counseling for patients getting tested and little or no knowledge by private providers about national laws and protocols regarding HIV/AIDS."

Contact Information: 

Email from Angela Milton to The Communication Initiative on January 28 2008 and May 16 2008; and PSP-One website.

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