Institute of Development Studies
id21 insights website, Issue 76, March 2009, on accessed on March 11 2009. Image courtesy of Piers Benatar, Panos Pictures 2002.
ICIMOD Bimonthly eNewsletter, February/March 2008, Issue: 22.
Local participation is the hallmark of this project, which involves selected community members voluntarily forming CBOs and then being guided in disseminating early warning messages to the communities, creating mass awareness, and rescuing marooned people in times of flood disaster.
Participatory action research (PAR) is integrated in this initiative from the beginning. The baseline for solution identification is hazard analysis, together with vulnerability and capacity assessments, all based on the sustainable livelihoods approach. According to Practical Action, the CBOs get involved from the initial stage of this process of problem and solution identification and prioritisation. For example, informal community meetings are held, with minimum assistance from the project staff. This is a strategy for creating self-confidence among the economically poorest and most vulnerable families, as well as for strenghtening community cohesion. Technologies which both strengthen local coping strategies and diversify livelihood strategies are offered on demand.
The advocacy aspect of the project is reflected in the CBO's action to liaise with district officials regarding strategies for incorporating a livelihoods approach into local and eventually national development and disaster plans. Through this process, organisers hope to develop guidelines and training materials on livelihood-centred disaster management for use by local and national service providers, planners, and humanitarian agencies. By analysing best practice in building consensus amongst stakeholders on how to link most effectively with and support communities' own disaster planning in a sustainable way, Practical Action will seek to influence policy makers involved in DRR at all levels. Specifically, organisers are working to collate and analyse past and current projects, working in partnership with regional and international networks to disseminate project findings and provide a platform for policy discussion and advocacy.
Practical Action, with DFID funding.
Building Disaster Resilient Communities: Good Practices and Lessons Learned [PDF], United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, 2007; and Practical Action website.
Societies Tackling AIDS through Rights (STAR) is designed to be a comprehensive integrated methodology which combines the strength of participatory learning about HIV and AIDS with empowerment and soc
According to organisers, the STAR methodology evolved from two participatory approaches, Stepping Stones and REFLECT (Regenerated Freirean Literacy through Empowering Community Techniques). Stepping Stones (SS) is a participatory learning package that focuses on relationships and communication skills with the aim of reducing HIV transmission, improving SRH, and fostering gender empowerment. REFLECT is a structured participatory learning process that facilitates people's critical analysis of their environment, as well as the identification and discussion of problems, resulting in practical solutions relevant to the local context.
The STAR approach seeks to address misinformation or lack of information on HIV/AIDS issues and fragmented responses. It is also designed to address issues of gender equity and to break barriers to communication by enhancing the capacity of individuals to open up and talk about sensitive issues. The process includes identifying specific actions, for example, demanding appropriate information and services from service providers. Some of the actions are intended to be challenges to the participants themselves, especially around customs and stigma which are considered to fuel the epidemic.
The approach is also designed to strengthen the literacy and communication of vulnerable people, especially women and girls, giving them skills to negotiate, open up dialogue within the household and community, and participate in making decisions. It also intends to help increase the capacity of the economically poor and people living with HIV to advocate for their priorities, particularly around HIV/AIDS, for example, demanding increased access to testing and affordable treatment.
In order to facilitate this process, the project includes the training of community facilitators and community-based organisations, especially women's groups, in policy advocacy and rights-based approaches to communication and mobilisation. Methods such as dramas, role plays, and community dialogues are joined with systematic and continuous data collection, analysis, learning, documentation, publications, and sharing to wider actors who intend to scale up the approach. Part of the strategy is to facilitate linkage between STAR programmes and other community-based organisations to create mass mobilisation to interact with local government and institutions.
The organisers outline the basic principles of STAR as follows:
- HIV and AIDS are mainstreamed;
- activities are conducted in peer working groups;
- participatory tools and techniques are used to enhance learning;
- group discussions are underpinned by power analysis;
- STAR programmes have built-in literacy and communication skills;
- participation is key, and everyone is visible and has a chance to be heard;
- each discussion hinges on actions/issues generated by the community;
- participants set up benchmarks for tracking progress and impact being made; and
- there is a strong element of documentation and information management.
HIV/AIDS, Gender, Reproductive Health
Pamoja Africa REFLECT Network is an African-wide non-profit, participatory education and development initiative established in 2002 by African REFLECT practitioners to facilitate learning, sharing, and continuing evolution of REFLECT practices in Africa. It forms part of CIRAC (Circle for International REFLECT Action and Communication), which is a global organisation of REFLECT practitioners, set up in 2000. CIRAC won the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) literacy award for 2003.
Pamoja Africa REFLECT Network, ActionAid International (AAI).
Pamoja website on June 19 2008 and November 24 2009.
This cross-platform educational initiative draws on both information and communication technologies (ICTs) and face-to-face interactions to engage people in learning a new language. Both information sharing and entertainment-education figure prominently.
Specifically, a television drama is being supported by a language support programme that will be broadcast in the same week; together, these elements are designed to offer on-screen tutoring and behind-the-scenes footage. An audio lesson, covering that week's language learning, is being made available for viewers to download to their mobile phones immediately after the programme.
In-person exchanges are also being used to educate. English-language discussions, based on the BBC Bangladesh Sanglap programmes, feature a live audience posing questions to a panel that includes an English-speaking expert. Transcripts and language primers are made available following the broadcasts. To cite another example, as part of English in Action's youth discussion programme, young people in Bangladesh are linked up with their counterparts in other countries so that they may discuss issues such as family, gender roles, education, sport, popular culture, and work. Each programme includes an animation that offers guidance in debating and negotiating skills, plus key vocabulary and phrases on the week's topic. (This animation is also provided in audio and text format via mobile phone, and will be broadcast by cable and satellite television, internationally.)
Education, Economic Development.
According to the BBC WST, in 2001, 200,000 people in Bangladesh used mobile phones; as of February 2008, there were 37.5 million mobile phone users. Mobile coverage increased from 55% in 2004 to 95% by the end of 2006. 61% of the urban population and 15.5% of the rural population subscribe to mobiles. Grameenphone, the country's biggest mobile phone operator, estimates that the number of mobile phone users will reach 50 million by 2009.
Some parts of the project, including work in primary and secondary schools, are being delivered by the Open Learning System Education Trust (OLSET) and the Open University, with leadership by educational consultants BMB Mott Macdonald. English in Action is supported by the Department for International Development (DFID).
Email from the BBC WST to The Communication Initiative on May 8 2008; "English Language Skills to Transform Lives in Bangladesh" on the BBC WST website; and English in Action page on the BBC WST website.
The Community Multimedia Centre (CMC) employs a number of communication strategies, including: interpersonal communication and community participation; development and broadcast of community radio and video programmes, and a combination of interactive live performances and call-in community radio programmes.
To establish the project, YCMC worked to mobilise a group of volunteers selected from different disadvantaged communities of the working area. This volunteer group was trained on developing audio and video contents on various issues. The participants bring up the issues of concern for their communities and, thus, as stated by YCMC staff, promote the voice of the voiceless. These audio and video programmes are then disseminated through the local cable operators to reach civil society, policy makers, and local political leaders and, thus, attempt to influence public opinion and generate public concern on the issues. The programmes are also used as advocacy tools in advocacy meetings, policy dialogues, and other forums.
The contents developed are needs-based, use multimedia tools and applications, and are created in such a way as to be understood even by completely illiterate people. For instance, a health information package will be developed using digital photographs, video clips, animations, audio, text, etc. For remote places where there is no cable connection, the project uses narrow casting (using loud speakers) and cassette casting (using tape recorders) in various groups and through video shows at local tea stalls (using DVD players) as well as using portable computers where cable is not available.
In addition to the audio and video programmes, volunteers produce interactive plays which explain the role of community media and place it within a realistic context for the communities addressed. According to YPSA, such plays work to raise awareness and public demand for community radio legislation. These plays are performed regularly in various rural areas of Bangladesh. However, unlike other theatre approaches which follow a one-way message delivery mechanism or which collect feedback after the performance, these plays use ICTs (radio, television, and telephone) to enable live and runtime feedback to be received. This mechanism allows viewers to express opinions during the play and change the outcome of the play. Each play, performed in the local language, begins with a story about a local issue. The first performance of the play ends with a negative conclusion. After the play, there is a radio- and telephone-enabled interactive discussion of rural problems and an explanation of how local community media can be a means by which to raise and address such issues. Then the same play is performed again, but this time the audiences have the opportunity, through a community radio station, to interrupt during the play, and change the direction of the story or demand changes in the roles of the characters. Audiences have to justify, with substantive reasons, their demands for changes, and final decisions are based on group consensus. Therefore, the community gets to determine how the story proceeds and ends, and in most cases, the negative story becomes a positive one. The YCMC has discovered that this kind of approach makes people more aware of existing local issues and practices; raises awareness about the lack of access to mainstream media; and demonstrates how local communities can use community radio and other media to change their society.
Youth, Community Media.
As a youth-focused organisation, YPSA recognises that deprived youth and adolescents in rural areas show as much potential as those in urban centers. Because rural youth have less access to information, YPSA feels that these youths should have the chance to access and benefit from ICTs to narrow the "digital gap", in order to learn more effectively and to participate more fully in an increasingly knowledge-based society.
The YCMC uses the local cable network for content dissemination, reaching about one thousand households in Sitakund. In the future, the YCMC plans to set up loudspeakers directly from the studio.
The YCMC in Sitakund developed out of a United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)-supported network on ICT innovations for poverty reduction, part of a cross-cutting theme on the eradication of poverty.
UNESCO's International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), International CMC Initiative, and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
In advance of the February 2011 International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup, players and squads from the 14 competing countries teamed up to help combat the AIDS epidemic.
The campaign, running throughout the ICC Cricket World Cup, is using television, online media, and in-stadium messaging in the 3 countries hosting the tournament (Bangladesh, India, and Sri Lanka). The concept is that sport can help bring people together to address key issues and encourage social change. The partnership has 2 major components:
- THINK WISE awareness: The advocacy work carried out by the partnership and leading international cricketers is designed to deliver key information about HIV at the international, regional, and national levels through public service announcements (PSAs) - such as the one visible below - event publications, and the THINK WISE website. This information focuses on awareness, inclusion, and informed decision-making for young people and volunteers, coaches, and commentators and broadcasters about the AIDS epidemic.
- THINK WISE projects: The partnership is piloting community-based cricket for development projects, aimed at using the power and popularity of cricket to help young people develop the appropriate knowledge, attitudes, and skills to reduce their risk and vulnerability to HIV. For example, the campaign is being rolled out in schools and communities in match-playing cities to engage young people in HIV/AIDS education. The participating schools are building on the popularity of cricket, and excitement about the ICC Cricket World Cup, to engage young people in interactive HIV-prevention learning opportunities. Even the session on stigma and discrimination is delivered in a participatory style - e.g., games and group activities - designed to engage students in games and lively conversations.
"UNICEF and World-class Cricketers Team up to Battle HIV and AIDS: ICC Cricket World Cup 2011", by Amy Farkas, UNICEF website, January 25 2011; and THINK WISE website, February 10 2011. Image credit: International Cricket Council/2010.
The "Strengthening Maternal and Newborn Care Services" project draws on one of the key lessons learned from the community-based newborn care study project called "Projahnmo": interpersonal communication (IPC) in or near the household is "the most effective means for behavior change." Supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Saving Newborn Lives (SNL) initiative, Projahnmo was carried out in 3 of Sylhet's upazilas; ACCESS scaled up the project by extending it into additional areas within the district. (Click here to download a PowerPoint presentation from ICDDR,B with further details about Projahnmo.)
As with the Projahnmo initiative, and in concert with the Household-to-Hospital Continuum of Care (HHCC) Model, ACCESS is carrying out IPC with the specific goal of involving the entire range of important decision-makers in the lives of pregnant women. To this end, community-based interventions are tailored to reach people at multiple levels – community, family, and individual. At the community level, resident community mobilisers (CMs) conduct group meetings with both men (husbands of pregnant women and heads of households) and women (pregnant and senior family members). These meetings are held at clusters of households or at locations in the community (shops, mosques, etc.). During the group meetings, CMs share information about maternal and newborn health; they also facilitate role-plays around improved practices.
Another key focus is negotiation at the home level to identify specific household barriers to maternal and neonatal health, and to arrive at viable solutions. Group-based meetings are supplemented by one-on-one counselling with pregnant women and their families. Resident literate women were trained as community health workers (CHWs). During the visits in pregnancy, CHWs emphasise BCC messages, encourage women to seek antenatal care at the health centre or satellite clinic, and negotiate maternal and newborn care practices with the family. During the postpartum visits, the CHWs assess the health of mother and baby and encourage use of postpartum care. During inclement weather such as floods, the counsellors travel to homes by boat.
This effort to support behaviour change also involves strengthening the capacity of the implementing NGOs to provide services, counselling, community mobilisation, and leadership. ACCESS focused on: (1) training Family Welfare Visitors (FWVs), paramedics, and doctors working in the government and NGO sectors, (2) setting up functional logistics and supply systems for obstetric and neonatal care services, (3) strengthening referral services, and (4) involving local and national managers in programme review and operations.
Local participation is central to ensuring that this system runs smoothly. Community and religious leaders, members of women's groups, and local officials play a critical role in involving community members at the local level. Community mobilisers work with women's and men's groups in the community to encourage and educate them on appropriate home care techniques for both mother and newborn, the need for a birth and newborn preparedness plan for every expectant mother, and their rights as a community to adequate health care.
Community mobilisers also encourage the groups to work for change and to feel empowered to make a difference. In addition, to effect change at the policy level, ACCESS is conducting advocacy activities to build commitment, mobilise and leverage resources, and ensure ultimate sustainability and scale-up.
Children, Women, Health.
USAID, Jhpiego, Save the Children, Constella Futures, the Academy for Educational Development, the American College of Nurse-Midwives, and Interchurch Medical Assistance (IMA) World Health.
This brief on gender and climate change was published by CARE International's Poverty, Environment and Climate Change Network (PECCN). It explains questions relating to CARE’s approach to adaptation, which begins with a comprehensive analysis that includes an examination of differential vulnerability due to social, political, and economic inequalities. This assessment helps tailor adaptation strategies to specific needs, capacities and priorities of impact groups, such as economically poor women.
Questions and some answers from the document include the following:
English, French, Spanish, Portuguese
CARE website, January 25 2011, and emails from Tamara Plush to The Communication Initiative on January 26 and 27 2011 and on April 12 2012.
The Communication Initiative Network and Partnership