In 2007, the Government of Nigeria with support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), developed the concept of a Community Information Board (CIB). The board is designed to capture basic social and development data that communities could use to track the health and well-being of their children, as well as drive community dialogues, collective decision-making, and communal action to realise the rights of women and children.
The Community Information Board is designed to capture basic social and development data in the community for tracking the situation of children and women, and to provide the focus for community and peer-group dialogues, local theatre and house-to-house counselling that lead to concrete actions that improve services for and the rights status of children, women, and families. As a community tool, it requires the participation of every segment and group in all stages of its use. The principal moderators of the Board are the traditional leader, the community or village development committee, and the recorder. The audience is the entire community — women, youths, children and men. The board is intended to complement existing community engagement processes such as community dialogues and community theatre.
The boards track 16 indicators on a quarterly basis. These indicators track births and child mortality, immunisations, child health and development, school enrolment, use of bed nets, water and sanitation, and maternal health. Each indicator is recorded on the information board, which is placed in a prominent position within villages, and updated quarterly by a recorder who is generally an assigned member of the community development association. The recorders, several of whom are women, use information from daily and weekly entries in community information notebooks to update the boards. Each recorder has a community information notebook or register into which s/he enters information on each indicator when it is collected. At the end of each quarter the information in the notebook is collated and entered on the Community Information Board.
Information is kept on the CIB for one year when it is ‘archived’ or held in a secure place within the community. Recording of information then begins afresh on the wiped board at the start of another year. The traditional leader and the village/community development committee are principally responsible for maintaining the CIBs and ensuring the involvement of all sections of the community. All groups have a chance to participate in responding to issues that arise from a common analysis of the implications of information on the board and in agreeing ways to address problems and move forward within the community. Participation takes place through one or more local level communication forums such as community and peer group dialogues, local theatre, and home counselling.
According to UNICEF, the CIBs were developed through a process of pre-testing with community leaders and different groups (including women and youth) until it was deemed user-friendly. Boards were then produced for 222 focus communities. Guidelines for use of the boards and a training guide were developed with community leaders and resource persons, with technical support from government officials, academics, and UNICEF staff.
Using a two-tier ‘cascade’ process, UNICEF organised training for recorders and members of the community development committees. First, university lecturers from across the country, together with staff from UNICEF’s non-governmental organisation (NGO) partners, participated in national level training of trainers (TOT) workshops. Following that, training of trainers (TOT) participants, equipped with new levels of confidence, knowledge, and skills, returned home to train local people on the selected indicators. UNICEF also helped to develop a Training Guide to be used primarily by NGOs as a resource for training and monitoring processes within communities.
Organisers say that by the end of 2008, 25 NGOs, government experts, and academics had trained 291 community focal persons and over 3000 members of community development committees on how to consolidate data from local records, update the boards, provide feedback to community members, and moderate community dialogue sessions. In addition, 138 communities in 21 states had updated their Community Information Boards and were using them to monitor indicators of child survival and development in their communities.
Children, Women, Health, Maternal Health, Immunisation, Malaria
According to organisers, the boards have been successfully adopted in over 60% of the focus communities. Evidence suggests that analysis and discussion of information on the boards contributes to:
- increasing the focus on the day-to-day well-being of women and children, and recognition of their rights;
- stimulating communities to discuss the best way of addressing issues on the board;
- encouraging communities to track information on their own development;
- creating a common understanding of development problems; and
- acting as a catalyst for local assessment, planning, and implementation of action plans, thereby building local ownership of services and programmes.
According to UNICEF, the Boards have exposed communities to an organised and standard method of data collection in the community, and communities have learned to interpret data and understand their usefulness. The Boards have also forged a link between data, dialogue, and knowledge of key household practices. Some community leaders confessed that they had never taken the key household practices or record-keeping seriously and were only just beginning to put these into practice now that they have a better understanding of their benefits. In addition, the process has enabled communities to appreciate the need to initiate, own and control the process of development in their localities rather than yielding to the dominant culture of relying on interventions from outside.
The following are some of the lessons learned from the project:
- Maintaining communities’ interest in dialoguing on issues related to the well being of children and their families requires that those issues are kept firmly at the forefront of public attention and on the community’s own development agenda.
- The leadership and support provided by traditional leaders and community development committees is vital to the successful use of the Community Information Boards.
- Using women as Recorders increased openness, encouraged greater cooperation amongst households, and increased their willingness to provide data to the Board.
- Providing communities with incentives for maintaining CIBs to a high standard, such as letters of commendation, should be considered.
UNICEF is planning to scale up the initiative. They say that over 80% of all communities in the country could be reached by 2012 if the capacity of staff from universities with outreach programmes and national and local NGOs is developed.
UNICEF, Nigerian Ministry of Information, Department of Information
UNICEF website on October 29 2010.
Association for Progressive Communications (Radloff), University of Guelph (Hambly Odame)
This document discusses the work of the Gender, Agriculture and Rural Development in the Information Society (GenARDIS) small grants fund, which was initiated in 2002 to support work on gender-related issues in information and communications technologies (ICTs) for the African, Caribbean, and Pacific regions. The small grants fund was disbursed to diverse projects in order to counter barriers to women living in rural areas. This document records the process and results, and is intended to contribute to more gender-aware ICT policy advocacy.
Association for Progressive Communications (APC) website, February 16 2011 and March 30 2012.
According to the articles in this Journal of Health Communication supplement, the polio eradication experience provides a rich source of health communication knowledge. And yet, it is one that remains relatively unexamined. The papers in this supplement take a small step towards drawing out some of the lessons and looking at what these experiences have to say to the wider field of health communication. They focus on a series of tensions and the manner in which the polio programme has dealt with them.
This website from newmediadev2009 was a project of a 2009 research seminar developed and taught by Professor Anne Nelson at Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) in New York, the United States (US).
Email from Anne Nelson to The Communication Initiative on January 11 2010.
Initiated in 2009, Majalisar Mata Manoma was a project that involved creating spaces for women farmers in the rural community of Gwagwada, Nigeria, to meet and engage with radio.
Prior to commencement of the project, ARDA carried out a baseline study to identify the needs of the beneficiaries and to draw out issues to be addressed by the radio programme. The baseline was also used to determine the appropriateness of local theatre as a development tool.
According to ARDA, the participation of two key male figures - a community elder and a school teacher - helped curtail possible opposition from the spouses of participating women. In addition, previous preparation, including work using theatre for development with men and women in the community, helped the women's husbands accept their participation. However, mobilising the women was still a challenge, as their heavy daily workload made listener group activities a secondary priority.
The project also addressed the issue of unequal workloads between women and men in the community. According to ADRA, the workload for young girls and women is disproportionately heavier than that of their male counterparts. An activity that requested participants to chart the daily diaries of the opposite sex helped build awareness around this problem for community members, while focus group discussions explored the significance of this issue. The theatre for development skits also portrayed this topic.
Broadcast live, the 30-minute radio programmes included music, a talk-show with an expert guest, phone-ins, and inserts recorded by the listeners' club members. These inserts consisted of discussions, songs, and opinions. The women involved in the project provided a priority list of issues they wanted the radio programmes to address. To deal with these identified issues, the programme relied on scripts downloaded from the Farm Radio International website.
As part of the project, the listeners' club was given a mobile phone to allow the women to engage with the radio programmes. According to the organisers, this strategy was necessary because women generally have less access to mobile technology due to gender inequalities in the community and lack of income. Members were trained to use the phone to make and receive calls and text messages. The women have also started using the phone to generate income for the club.
To read more about the programme, visit the listeners' club blog.
According to ARDA, the women in the club are increasingly willing and able to organise themselves with less effort on ARDA's part. They ask more questions about issues to be addressed on the programmes and are generally much more vocal in discussions. The club has also recently evolved into a formal association to be used as a vocational group, development group, or farmers' cooperative.
African Radio Drama Association (ARDA) and Gender and Agriculture in the Information Society (GenARDIS).
GenARDIS website on March 10 2010; and "Rural Nigeria: Radio and Mobile Phones Change Women's Lives", on the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) website and listeners' club blog - both accessed on December 13 2010.
Rural Internet Kiosks (RIK) is a Kenyan-based organisation that manufactures and distributes movable, recyclable, cost-effective kiosks that operate with satellite connectivity and solar energy to ena
Rural Internet Kiosks produces kiosks that are independent, freestanding booths functioning on solar power and other forms of renewable energy. Each kiosk houses 3 energy-efficient personal computers. The kiosks are modelled on user-friendly software and hardware and are manufactured and assembled in a "knock-down" format, enabling them to be easily transported and set up in even very rugged regions.
The kiosks have been designed to give access to all users, including children and the disabled. According to RIK, they are also working on ways to use portable USB pen screen readers and accessible websites, which will help the visually impaired access information. Screen readers could also help people who can understand, but not necessarily read, English.
The kiosks are designed to promote entrepreneurship and electronic service delivery within rural and urban settings and, in turn, facilitate e-commerce, e-education, e-health, and e-governance. The organisers say that the kiosks have helped farmers obtain regular updates on weather patterns and produce prices, thereby expanding their revenue. Business start-ups have been able to exploit digital multimedia advertising. The internet kiosks are helping government agencies to create awareness concerning health and environment and reach out to local communities. Through the use of multimedia information outlets, communities can also access information about infectious diseases such as malaria, polio, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis. The kiosks also create platforms for the promotion of tele-medicine, which is still in its infancy in most African countries.
The kiosks use the open-source Ubuntu Linux operating system, as well as other open-source software. This virtualisation technology allows up to 10 uses to share a single personal computer (PC).
Information and Communication Technology, Economic Development, Agriculture.
The RIK project was developed by Jitu Patani, also project manager at Rural Internet Kiosk, who has a vision of bridging the digital divide by providing the last mile access to rural or remote communities. RIK is working to help Africa move towards the Millennium Development Goal of Bridging the Digital Divide by year 2015.
Rural Internet Kiosks, InterSat, and Userful.
eLearning Africa website on February 5 2010.
Measurement, Learning & Evaluation (MLE) Project for the Urban Reproductive Health Initiative (URHI)
The Measurement, Learning & Evaluation (MLE) Project is an endeavour to identify which interventions of the Urban Reproductive Health Initiative (URHI) are most effective and have the biggest impact.
MLE's communication strategy is built on collaboration with the country consortia (CCs) that are implementing URHI programmes in Uttar Pradesh, India, Kenya, Nigeria, and Senegal. According to organisers, this collaboration is essential in ensuring that the country programme activities are rigorously monitored and evaluated, that high-quality data are collected, and that the results of the impact analysis are used by the country consortia (CCs) to inform programme activities as well as disseminated nationally, regionally, and globally in an effort to promote and scale-up promising FP/RH practices.
The MLE project has developed a standard set of instruments and indicators for use at the individual, household, and facility levels, which will be reviewed by each CC and adapted to the local context. This core set of indicators is designed to allow for cross-country comparative analysis, while the adaptation provides opportunities to examine specific issues of interest for each country.
Through a quasi-experimental study design, MLE will evaluate the URHI interventions, which are developed around the following objectives:
- To develop cost-effective interventions for integrating quality FP with maternal and child health services;
- To improve the quality of FP services for the urban economically poor with emphasis on high-volume clinical settings;
- To test innovative private-sector approaches to increase access to and use of FP by the urban economically poor;
- To develop interventions for creating demand for and sustaining use of contraceptives; and
- To increase funding and financial mechanisms and a supportive policy environment for ensuring success to FP supplies and services for the urban economically poor.
From January through December 2009, MLE in partnership with the CC in India: created an in-country advisory board; conducted a baseline key stakeholder interviews; initiated a capacity assessment with the in-country research partner; trained data collection research assistants; pretested the baseline survey instruments; and began data collection. The baseline data collection activities are, as of January 2010, underway in India.
In an effort to build in-country capacity to undertake rigorous measurement and evaluation of population, FP, and integrated reproductive health programmes, MLE offered a six-hour M&E "101" Short Course for Beginners as part of the International Conference on Urban Health in October 2009. The course consisted of two sessions and covered: an introduction to M&E; uses of data; conceptual frameworks and logic models; development of indicators; data sources; and evaluation research, including descriptions of study designs and how to select the best design for a specific study.
From MLE's perspective, to revitalise global interest and funding for a new era in the promotion of FP/RH services, robust evidence-based strategies must demonstrate research-driven best practices, and this research must be disseminated widely. Successful local, national, regional, and global dissemination and use of the programme results depend on many factors, including the collaborative relationships among the MLE project and the CCs and the engagement of key stakeholders to improve policymaking and funding allocations at all levels. The MLE website is one way in which organisers are building those relationships and sharing information.
A variety of resources are offered on the website, such as links to presentations given by MLE partners and colleagues at various venues that highlight findings from the MLE project, its evaluation of the URHI, and other project-related insights and lessons learned, including a series of 6 stories written to personalise the RH barriers and challenges that women and men face living in urban slums. One may also find upcoming regional and global events that MLE partners and others from the broader urban RH community have submitted to the website. Similarly, as part of its larger aim of raising awareness of the importance for M&E (beyond URHI) and building M&E capacity, one page on the site offers recommended tools and resources to assist in incorporating M&E into public health programmes.
Reproductive Health, Population, Maternal and Child Health.
According to the United Nations, urban populations in Asia and Africa are expected to double between 2000 and 2030.(1) One in three urban residents lives in slums,(2) often beyond the reach of health services that address maternal and infant morbidity and mortality, including FP. CC interventions are developed around the understanding that the unique nature of urban poverty requires inclusive interventions and strategies that transform the challenges of urban slums into opportunities. The MLE project will determine if the country consortia has indeed managed to expand the reach and quality of integrated FP programmes and maternal and child health services in their respective urban project cities in order to reduce maternal and infant mortality and improve the lives of economically poor urban residents.
It has been argued that too few impact evaluations have been carried out; and, when they have, they frequently do not use rigorous methods, resulting in information that is misleading or of little use.(3) A dearth of rigorous impact evaluation studies leave decisionmakers with good intentions and ideas but little real evidence of how to spend scarce resources. The MLE project is based on the conviction that better coordination of impact evaluations across countries and institutions around common thematic areas can improve the ability to generalise findings.
(1) United Nations, World Urbanization Prospects: The 2007 Revision (New York: United Nations Population Division, 2008).
(2) United Nations, The State of World Population 1996 (New York: United Nations Population Division).
(3) William D. Savedoff, Ruth Levine, and Nancy Birdsall. (2006). When Will We Ever Learn? Improving Lives through Impact Evaluation. Report of the Evaluation Gap Working Group. Washington, DC: Center for Global Development.
University of North Carolina's Carolina Population Center, in collaboration with Africa Population and Health Research Center, International Center for Research on Women, and Population Reference Bureau.
MLE website, January 14 2010.
Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Community Participation for Action in the Social Sector Project (COMPASS) aims to reach approximately 23 million Nigerians
COMPASS draws on a number of communication strategies, as illustrated through the examples below. The main goal is to promote a sense of ownership whereby community members take responsibility for their own community's development.
Improving quality of basic education: COMPASS has introduced a number of interventions aimed at improving students' skills in math and literacy and increasing primary school retention and girls' enrollment. Carried out in both public and Islamiyya (religious) schools in Kano, Nassarawa, and Lagos atates, activities focus on teacher performance, community support, and integration of health and education, and are designed to:
- Promote the teaching of math and reading through Interactive Radio Instruction (IRI);
- Train teachers in teaching methods that are girl-friendly and encourage student participation;
- Empower Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) and community members to improve classrooms and school grounds to make them cleaner, safer, and more conducive to learning;
- Strengthen parent-school relationships by providing PTAs with technical and financial support;
- Promote and adopt school-based health and nutrition initiatives; and
- Strengthen the teaching capacity of colleges of education and universities to improve the quality of education in primary schools.
Promoting FP and quality RH: COMPASS works with local governments, health care providers, and communities to address safe motherhood, FP, postabortion care, HIV/AIDS, youth-friendly services (using culturally sensitive approaches), men's roles in RH (including men in RH discussions and encouraging their participation in decisions involving their partner's RH), and gender-based violence (or, GBV, emphasising community commitment to address GBV and working with health facility staff to recognise it as a health problem affecting women's RH outcomes).
Improving child health and nutrition: By working with community-based and facility-based health providers and advocating for under-5 child health policies at national and state levels, COMPASS supports child survival activities in 37 LGAs in Kano, Lagos, and Nasarawa states. These interventions address the following components:
- Malaria (e.g., training local Patent Medicine Vendors, advocating for the use of insecticide-treated nets (ITNs), and organising outreach events to educate communities);
- Nutrition (e.g., promoting exclusive breastfeeding, appropriate complementary feeding, and Vitamin A supplementation during National Immunisation Days (NIDs) organised by the Federal Ministry of Health);
- Immunisation (e.g. providing programme assistance with routine and supplementary immunisation in national training and social mobilisation working groups and monitoring and supporting NID activities); and
- Diarrhoeal diseases, acute respiratory infections, newborn care (e.g., strengthening the home-based skills of community health promoters through refresher trainings and promoting messages on healthy household practices).
Mobilising communities: COMPASS seeks to create an environment in which all Nigerians are involved in learning, planning, and taking action to improve health and education in their communities. COMPASS uses 2 conceptual frameworks based on participatory problem solving approaches: 1) Community Action Cycle (CAC) - encourages community members to work together to identify priority problems in their communities, define and identify solutions, and take action to improve the situation. The process also includes reviewing progress made in order to adjust strategies and/or address new problems. 2) Partnership Defined Quality (PDQ) - involves service providers and community members working on specific quality issues at the health facility or school level. Through these processes, COMPASS has been mobilising community members to establish 2 key community-based structures to facilitate participation: quality improvement teams and community coalitions. For instance, through the CAC process, community coalitions develop action plans; COMPASS provides technical assistance and guides the community coalitions in identifying strategies for implementing their action plans.
Contributing to polio eradication: COMPASS strengthens polio immunisation activities in the Federal Capital Territory and 10 other states through: micro-planning and operational preparedness (e.g., participating in advocacy meetings), supervision and monitoring systems (e.g. developing community maps), community and social mobilisation (e.g. exploring with communities and providers ways to recognise and build upon achievements), training, information collection and use, and rehabilitation of polio victims (e.g. helping them develop appropriate skills and knowledge for self-sufficiency and independence).
Advocating for improved social services and creating, supporting, and publicising policies that lead to better health and education: COMPASS works at state, district, and community levels to strengthen capacity for legislative action, increase awareness of policies that have been enacted to address social issues, advocate for leadership action in response to challenges, and promote community participation in using and providing services. One example of a relevant activity is building the capacity of local media outlets to support dissemination of policies and advocate for improved services in their area of coverage.
Building the capacity of Nigerian non-governmental organisations (NGOs): In an effort to enable NGOs to contribute to the development of their country and successfully oversee community-based interventions in education, child health, and RH, COMPASS provides the tools and technical assistance they need to successfully develop work plans, raise funds, manage resources, and implement activities.
Forging alliances between the public and private sectors: COMPASS begins by sensitising organisations, businesses, and individuals on the needs of the community. Once challenges are identified, groups are encouraged to support COMPASS initiatives through cost-sharing efforts such as donating needed goods and services. COMPASS also conducts advocacy visits to corporate organisations, influential individuals, and members of market and transport unions to leverage additional resources.
For further details on all these activities and strategies, as well as access to a variety of COMPASS materials (e.g., posters) and success stories, visit the COMPASS website.
Children, Education, Health, Reproductive Health, Gender.
USAID, Federal Government of Nigeria. The 9-partner COMPASS team includes: Pathfinder International, Management Sciences for Health, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Communication Programs (CCP), Federation of Muslim Women's Associations of Nigeria (FOMWAN), Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Civil Society Action Coalition on Education For All (CSACEFA), Creative Associates International, Inc. (CAII), Adolescent Health Information Project (AHIP), Futures Group.
COMPASS website, accessed January 13 2010.
This 36-page report details an independent, external evaluation of the Global Poliomyelitis Eradication Initiative (GPEI) that was carried out in response to a request from the Executive Board of the