FAO Development Support Communication Branch: 'Knowledge is the key factor'
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CTA. 1994. FAO Development Support Communication Branch: 'Knowledge is the key factor'. Spore 49. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/49340
In a recent publication the World Bank states that 'More than natural resources, more than cheap labour, more than financial capital, knowledge is becoming the key factor in production.' Many governments are also realizing that to have successful...
In a recent publication the World Bank states that 'More than natural resources, more than cheap labour, more than financial capital, knowledge is becoming the key factor in production.' Many governments are also realizing that to have successful development activities people must participate and communication is an important tool to achieve that participation. This was not the case when the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) established the Development Support Communication Branch within its information Division in 1969. Development efforts then were still concentrated largely on attempting to transfer western, industrialized technology to developing countries and treated communication as a 'trickle down' process whereby ideas promoted to opinion formers. And leader farmers would permeate the whole community and be put into practice There was little experience of using communication with often illiterate rural people for social and economic change. FAO's Development Support Communication Branch (DSC) was set up to help correct this deficiency and during its 25 years of existence it has developed a range of experience and skills and initiated numerous successful development communication projects. DSC has used a range of media and mix of media to meet a great diversity of rural communication needs in a great many developing (including ACP) countries. DSC in the ACP countries In Africa, radio was used to reach large rural audiences. A participatory approach to radio was developed which enabled rural people to become the active protagonists and participants of the radio programmes instead of passive listeners. Programmes have been increasingly broadcast in local languages and nowadays reflect local customs and values. The Pan African Rinderpest Campaign (PARC) involves 34 sub-Saharan countries and has been one of the largest and most ambitious regional projects. From its bases in Nairobi, Kenya and Bamako, Mali, it has utilized DSC expertise to reach highly mobile pastoralists through audio-visual and radio broadcasting materials. Several publications have also been prepared, including newsletters, an illustrated guide on how to plan, produce and use discussion tools, a draft rural radio production guide, and a draft guide to pastoralist communities in the PARC region. Other DSC supported projects in Africa have ranged from the training of trainers in rural radio in West and Central Africa, serving in particular Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, to a multi-media project proposal for Zambia for working with small-scale farmers. In Nigeria DSC helped strengthen extension services, in Senegal it supported the development of rural forestry, in the Congo it assisted the development of apiculture, in Cameroon, Comoros and Lesotho communication for population awareness, and in Malawi it helped strengthen the development support communication capacity of the Department of Information and Malawi Broadcasting Corporation. In the Western Hemisphere DSC pioneered interactive video in Latin America and is currently assisting with a sub-regional video project for the Eastern Caribbean. The project operates from the Rural Communication Centre (RCC) in Dominica and aims to establish national capacities to use video for rural development and population education in Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines. The project uses small-format video to create ongoing interaction between resource information and the target population. Video programmes are supported by simple printed materials, thus creating educational packages. Discussion and practical work, where possible, complement the use of these educational packages. Publications and A/V aids DSC has produced a range of publications including Using video in the field, Communication for rural development to improve planning, participation and training, and Powerful images - slide programmes and film strips. All are concise and easy to follow guides for practitioners. Their latest publication, One thousand and one worlds - a rural radio handbook is a comprehensive review of the possibilities, pitfalls and practice of rural radio. Written by Fran\E7ois Querre, who draws on nearly 20 years of experience in mainly francophone Africa, it is a useful insight and guide for professionals and policy makers involved with rural radio in any ACP country. DSC has also produced practical videos, including Sharing knowledge: communication for sustainable development (16 minutes) and Stringing out for change - puppets in the hills (24 minutes), which is a case study of the use of puppets in population communication activities in Burundi. All publications, videos and slide sets are available in English and French and a full list of publications, videos, film strips and slide sets is available from DSC. The videos cost US$40 each but all other titles are free. It is obvious that if development is to be successful the ageoldage old boundaries between research, extension and communication must be removed. If development communication is to become part of the new mainstream of development it will require more innovative thinking, field testing of ideas and theories and more qualitative and quantitative evaluation of results. FAO's Development Support Communication Branch is likely to be central to this process end those involved with development communication in ACP countries should regard the DSC Branch as a prime source of information and advice. DSC Branch Information Division FAO Via delle Terme di Caracalla 00100 Rome ITALY