OPEN DEVELOPMENT!

The Communication and Media for Development Declaration

An agenda for improved action on poverty and sustainable development

 


 

SUMMARY

 

Why Communication and Media?

  • Development - and the social and economic change it desires - requires effective communication and media.
  • This requirement is driven by the pressing and compelling need to address the human and social dimensions of blockages to progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and poverty reduction.
  • The scale and challenge of poverty and the MDGs requires fully mobilising and harnessing all capacities and resources including media and communication.
  • In particular communication and media strategies and action add value by engaging the experiences, ideas, analysis and energies of the people and communities most affected by development issues.
  • This engagement is important from both a rights and effectiveness perspective.
  • Effective responses to development problems require the long-term perspectives that are central to communication and media processes.

 

Are Communication and Media Effective?

  • Effective communication and media strategies have been central to major social changes in the past 100 years including improving gender equity, civil rights, environmental action, child health, accountable government and others.
  • Communication technology innovations - from the printing press to the internet - have been central factors for improving living standards.
  • Some examples of the growing body of research evidence on communication and media impact include:
    • a 1% increase in newspaper circulation is associated with a 2.4% increase in public food distribution and a 5.5% increase in calamity relief expenditures.
    • in Zambia, 15% of married women with no education who are regularly exposed to radio and television are currently using contraception compared with 7% exposed to no media.

 

What Communication and Media Strategies and Action are Required?

  • The core development requirements for more effective local, national and international development action involve more open and inclusive strategies with the following priorities:
    • VOICE – amplifying the voice of those most affected.
    • KNOWLEDGE – prioritising the knowledge generated within communities and countries.
    • CULTURE – respecting and harnessing local cultural strengths.
    • DEBATE - expanding public and private debate and dialogue.
    • POLICY – creating more open, participative, and inclusive policy processes.
    • LEGISLATION – seeking pluralistic media, communication, and democratic rights legislation.
    • BEHAVIOUR – negotiating changes in social and individual norms, behaviours, and attitudes.
    • INFORMATION – improving data collection and sharing on human and social dimensions.
  • These are the central features of effective and principled communication and media for development action
  • This field involves all who use communication to address development challenges – e.g.: radio broadcasters, community theatre groups, soap opera writers, journalists.
  • Communication works through methods as varied as news distribution, advocacy, storytelling, community participation, and advertising/marketing.

 

What Actions do We Propose for Policy Makers and Decision Takers?

 

      • Greater VOICE for people most affected.
      • Expanded focus on local KNOWLEDGE.
      • Higher emphasis on CULTURAL factors.
      • Increased space for public DEBATE and private DIALOGUE on key issues.
      • More PARTICIPATIVE policy making processes.
      • Improved MEDIA RIGHTS and PLURALISTIC MEDIA protection and legislation.
      • More sophisticated BEHAVIOUR CHANGE strategies.
      • More detailed INFORMATION and DATA on the human/social dimensions of development.

 


 

OPEN DEVELOPMENT!

The Communication and Media for Development Declaration

An agenda for improved action on poverty and sustainable development

 

This Declaration proposes a set of steps for local, national and international development decision makers and funders to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the overall work of their organisations in addressing poverty and sustainable development issues.

 

These recommended steps are based on an analysis of the significant challenges facing local, national, and international development and the extensive opportunities provided by communication and media to address these challenges for long-term impact.

 

DEVELOPMENT CHALLENGES

Why Communication and Media?

 

The struggle against poverty, including the race to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and to implement effective poverty reduction strategy (PRS) programmes, requires mobilising and harnessing all possible global capacities and resources.

 

In particular, there is a pressing and compelling need for capacities and strategies that can best address the vital human and social dimensions of poverty, governance, health, education, conflict, human rights, the environment, and other priority development issues at the scale required.

 

International development, if it is to be more effective and efficient relative to the MDGs and PRS programmes, needs to have a much closer collective link to those who are living development. Involving the situations, experiences, ideas and energies of the people and communities directly experiencing development issues - poverty, corrupt governance, poor health, lack of education, conflict, human rights violations, and natural disasters, among others - will ensure relevant, effective and extensive strategies and initiatives.

 

Local, national, and international decision makers can improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their work by increasing the extent to which they listen to the people in their communities and support the voices of their communities in debating and pursuing improvements to their present and future lives. Those voices will include valuable ideas and suggestions for effective programmes.

 

This is not just a matter of improved and more effective use of limited resources. It is a fundamental human right: people currently have the right to drive and decide the changes in their lives, families, and communities. This right must be respected.

 

2. DEMONSTRATED CHANGE

Are Communication and Media Effective?

 

Precedent

 

There are compelling and credible historical processes that had effective communication and media strategies as essential parts of their overall strategy. The Civil Rights, anti-Apartheid, anti-Tobacco, Representative Democracy, Child Rights and Women's Movements, as well as other past and ongoing global, regional, national and local social movements, have all included communication and media strategies as a main (often the central) part of their change effort. In many cases, all that these movements used were communication and media strategies.

 

Communication technology innovations have also been crucial components in driving improved living standards through more widespread involvement in public life and access to knowledge and information. This can be seen clearly across a range of innovations such as the printing press, telephone, radio, internet and many others.

 

Evidence

 

There is an increasing body of research and evaluation knowledge on the direct impact of communication and media for development action on various social and economic issues. This impact evidence can be found in various libraries, academic institutions, and peer-reviewed journals, as well as within numerous websites and programme evaluation reports from development organisations around the world.

 

  • Some examples of the growing body of research evidence on communication and media impact include:
    • a 1% increase in newspaper circulation is associated with a 2.4% increase in public food distribution and a 5.5% increase in calamity relief expenditures
    • countries with better freedom of information and transparency have better quality governance.
    • community discussions on female genital cutting led to widespread public declarations calling for the abandonment of the practice in Burkina Faso.
    • in Zambia, 15% of married women with no education regularly exposed to radio and television are currently using contraception compared with 7% exposed to no media.
    • Philippines Multimedia initiative raises childhood vaccination rates from 54% to 65%.
    • Local communication initiative with Ghanaian farmers results in 50% planting trees in support of local reforestation.


Please see ANNEX A for both further examples of the demonstrated impact related to issues of poverty, good governance, gender, children, maternal mortality, family planning, general health, HIV/AIDS, human rights, and the natural resource management and the citations for this collection of impact research.

 

 

Perspective

 

Though there is a strong temptation in international development to seek quick, single-fix solutions, this Declaration resists that temptation. The combined weight of evidence from the historical processes and research data, as well as an understanding of the complex and difficult nature of development challenges mean a long-term perspective is required. This Declaration takes that long-term perspective.

 

3. CORE ELEMENTS OF COMMUNICATION AND MEDIA FOR DEVELOPMENT

What Communication and Media Strategies and Action are Required?

 

The Communication and Media for Development field involves all who use a media and/or communication strategy/activity [see below for parameters] to address development challenges. The field includes: radio broadcasters; community theatre groups; social activists, television soap opera writers; journalists; professors; website editors; researchers; documentary filmmakers; theatrical writers, actors and directors; training personnel; and many others.

 

The field uses methods as varied as: news distribution; advocacy; entertaining storytelling and modelling; interpersonal dialogue; community participation; advertising and marketing; and creating school curricula.

 

Communication and Media for Development is an extensive and dynamic community of practitioners, researchers, and organisations that seek to advance this variety of communication approaches to development.

 

The context, analysis, and demonstrated impact above drive the nature of this work. The qualities, scope, and demonstrated impact of communication for development, as outlined below, drive the need for this urgent advocacy for increased support and growth.

 

Considering the development challenges and communication successes outlined above, the following local, national, and international development strategies and approaches - the core elements of communication for development - are required in greater depth and scale:

 

Voice – amplifying the voice, perspective, and central contribution of people and communities most affected by development issues – e.g.: poverty, corrupt governance, poor health, lack of education, conflict, human rights violations, and natural disasters.

 

Knowledge – placing priority on the knowledge and information generated within the communities and countries that are bearing the heaviest burden of the development issues being addressed.

 

Culture – respecting the diverse ways in which each culture understands, addresses, and harnesses the factors of leadership, community, behaviour, and inclusion in order to improve their families, communities and countries.

 

Debate - expanding public and private debate and dialogue on the issues that are of priority importance in each international, national, and local context.

 

Policy – creating more open, participative, and inclusive policies and processes in order to increase the integration of the views and perspectives of those most affected by development issues.

 

Legislation – seeking media and communication legislation that supports a pluralistic communication environment with space for a full range of voices, people, and organisations.

 

Social Norms, Behaviours and Attitudes – negotiating changes in those collective and individual norms, behaviours and attitudes that either threaten and/or undermine progress on local, national and international development priorities.

 

Evidence and Research – improving the collection, sharing, and utilisation of evidence and research related to the human and social dimensions of development.

 

4. REQUIRED DECISIONS

What Actions do We Propose for Policy Makers and Decision Takers?

 

We, Communication and Media for Development practitioners and researchers - a community of over 100,000 people in over 5,000 different organisations across all countries and regions of the globe seeking improved international development action - ask local, national, and international participants and decision makers across the spectrum - from community leaders, mayors, and national government officials to global technical experts, funders, and senior United Nations, bilateral, and foundation staff - to take the following actions.

 

These actions provide the building blocks for growing and strengthening the important strategic and programming steps highlighted above. They derive from the proof of principle - both social movements and research/evaluation data - also cited above. The key steps that we request are:

 

For all Policy Makers and Decision Takers

 

No matter where you take your decisions [from local community group to major international agency]; no matter the context in which you work [from agency headquarters to neighbourhood] and no matter the issue on which you are focused we recommend and propose the following for your policy making and decision taking:

 

      • A greater VOICE for people most affected
      • An expanded focus on local KNOWLEDGE
      • A higher emphasis on CULTURAL factors
      • An increase in the space for public DEBATE and private DIALOGUE on the key issues
      • A more PARTICIPATIVE policy making process
      • An improved MEDIA RIGHTS and PLURALISTIC MEDIA protection and legislation agenda
      • More sophisticated BEHAVIOUR CHANGE strategies
      • More detailed INFORMATION and DATA on the human/social dimensions of development

 

Plus the following recommendations specific to differing contexts:

 

For International, Multi-lateral, and Bilateral Organisations:

 

4.a An expanded and more direct involvement within your decision making, policy making and funding processes of people and organisations who are most affected, on a daily basis, by the development issues that are the priority for your organisation.

 

4.b The employment of more staff across your organisation with skills, interests, and experience in communication for development.

 

4.c A budget line for the training of communication staff in communication for development strategies, approaches, and techniques (suggestion of 2% of entire budget committed to this line).

 

4.d A budget line for communication for development within all of your programmes and projects with formal guidance to programme managers to expend between 5 and 10% of their entire budgets on communication and media action directly related to the priority development issues they are addressing and in collaboration with the communities they are addressing.

 

4.e An increased emphasis on freedom of the press, access to information, and transparency. Infrastructure is an important element in this. Bandwidth, satellite and internet access are key elements to support at the national level.

 

4.f A yearly increase in funding support by your organisation for specific communication for development strategies, programmes and other initiatives.

 

For National, Governmental and Non-Governmental Organisations:

 

4.g Increased funding for media action and advocacy on social development issues and promoting dialogue through radio and television broadcasts.

 

4.j An increased emphasis on promoting debate and dialogue on your organisation’s priority issues. There is a present tendency to promote particular answers, positions or organisational brands as solutions to development problems. Instead, focus your organisation on collecting opinions and input from all stakeholders and creating solutions based on these inputs.

 

4.k A commitment to adopting proven communication for development strategies and approaches, as outlined and illustrated in this Declaration.

 

4.l The employment of more staff across your organisation with skills, interests, and experience in communication for development.

 

4.m A budget line for training of communication staff in communication for development strategies, approaches, and techniques (suggestion of 2% of entire budget committed to this line).

 

4.n A budget line for communication for development within all of your programmes and projects with formal guidance to programme managers to expend between 5 and 10% of their entire budgets on proven communication and media action directly related to the priority development issues they are addressing and in collaboration with the communities they are addressing.

 

4.o An increased emphasis on freedom of the press, access to information, and transparency. Infrastructure is an important element in this. Bandwidth, satellite and internet access are key elements of support at the national level.

 

For Local and Organisations and Community Leaders:

 

4.p An increased emphasis on promoting debate and dialogue on your organisation’s priority issues. There is a present tendency to promote particular answers, positions or organisational brands as solutions to development problems. Instead, focus your organisation on collecting opinions and input from all stakeholders and creating solutions based on these inputs.

 

4.q A commitment to adopting proven communication for development strategies and approaches, as outlined and illustrated in this Declaration.

 

4.r The employment of more staff across your organisation with skills, interests, and experience in communication for development.

 

4.s A budget line for training of staff in communication for development strategies, approaches, and techniques (suggestion of 2% of entire budget committed to this line).

 

4.t A budget line for communication for development within all of your programmes and projects with formal guidance to programme managers to expend between 5 and 10% of their entire budgets on communication and media action directly related to the priority development issues they are addressing and in collaboration with the communities they are addressing.

 

These proposals are justified by the history, scope, and demonstrated impact of communication for development. They are presented in the context of recent funding trends towards a strong emphasis on aid effectiveness, budgetary support and decentralised decision making to country office locations.

 

Through the analysis and actions highlighted above, the overall effectiveness and impact of the work of your organisations will be strengthened. Together - locally, nationally, and globally - we will all make more substantive progress in addressing poverty and other priority local, national, and international development issues.

 

Add your name as a signatory on this Declaration by sending your name, profession and country of residence to the following contact:

 

Warren Feek

Executive Director, The Communication Initiative

Canada

wfeek@comminit.com

The Communication Initiative

 


Click here for the ANNEX: Evidence.

 

Click here for The Drum Beat 363 - Manifesto: Communication and Media for Development, a previous draft of this Declaration from September 2006. The above draft was developed based on comments received from The Communication Initiative Network in a survey review of this 2006 version.