Development Communications

According to the DMFA, development communication is a tool to help the process to better attain the overall objectives of sector programs. Strategic communication can be used in policy development as well as in institutional strengthening and in implementation of sector programs.

In sector programs, development communications are a means, although it should be noted that the contribution that communication can make to participatory development can be seen as an end.

Key Development Communication Strategies

  • Entertainment Education
  • Social Marketing

Development Communications Case Study #1: Salaam Watandar

Salaam Watandar is a radio program that was originally developed by Internews, but currently produced by an almost entirely Afghan staff. It is an aggregate of several individual programs including Ba Khabar, a news program that covers a wide range of national issues; Shuma Qazi Hasted (You are the Judge), a program that examines social issues in Afghanistan; Shahrak-e-Atfal (Ali Baba), a children’s program; and Dar Walayat (In the Provinces), a program that examines life in the various provinces throughout Afghanistan. In June 2004, Salaam Watandar began playing on the Internews-assisted community radio stations in both Dari and Pashto via satellite.

The research on Salaam Watandar has been primarily conducted by Altai Consulting, who organized content testing sessions with 311 participants (154 men and 157 women). The participants listened to extracts from Salaam Watandar’s programs and then asked to participate in short interviews about its content. The majority of the group (Altai, 2005) believed that the program’s use of both Dari and Pashto was a positive attribute that contributed to a sense of national unity.

One of Salaam Watandar’s regularly scheduled programs, Shuma Qazi Hasted, examines a specific social issue in each program, and elicits audience feedback to help decide the outcome of the show. The format of the show is guided by a communications for social change mode. Much of Altai’s findings regarding Shuma Qazi Hasted examined indicators of attitude and behavior, with mixed results. Although the majority of listeners believe that the show has the potential to bring about positive changes in their attitude and behavior, most of the show’s decisions do not currently affect the listener’s attitude or behavior. The important indicator is that the interviewees reported they felt they had an increased ability to actively participate in the production of radio content, a positive indicator that the initiative is being delivered as intended based on its initial model.

Development Communications Case Study #2: New Home, New Life

“New Home, New Life” is a soap opera that was launched by the BBC in 1994. The model for the show is based on BBC Radio Four’s “The Archers” (Skuse 2005). The show focuses on the lives of a small group of individuals, presenting five distinct scenes in each episode with two or three main storylines. It is both incredibly successful, evidenced by its reach of somewhere around 35 million (Brockes 2001) and resilient, as it was one of the few cultural products to survive the Taliban regime.

“New Home, New Life” has been heavily influenced by the education entertainment model. During the conceptual planning stage for the initiative, the decision was made to extend beyond social marketing strategies, to what was perceived to be a more sustainable approach. According to Gordon Adam, the head of the BBC World Service’s Pashto section, “We wanted to follow the Archers tradition of developing stories over months and years, so that people came to trust the show” (Brockes 2001). This model has paid big dividends. In interviews conducted by Altai, it was the most frequently cited show, creating the impression that it was something of a national “institution” (Altai, 2005).

Although the BBC production team uses Afghan actors and writers it can not be considered much of a participatory model because it is bound by BBC production guidelines, which involve a number of thematic restrictions including guidelines on political impartiality.

As with the other initiatives, Altai Consulting is responsible for most of the research pertaining to “New Home, New Life.” The research that pertained to the show was conducted through open-ended interviews in 15 Agfhan communities, spread among 4 regions. All together, 150 open-ended interviews were conducted. Most of the findings are qualitative in nature, and point to the positive impact the show has had on the Afghan population, particularly for women. Many men attribute changes in their attitudes and behavior towards women to “New Home, New Life.” Women also reported that they developed a greater awareness of their rights, and gained knowledge on topics such as health and education, from watching the show.

Development Communications Case Study #3: The Archers

The Archers is a series produced by the BBC, which has run since the early 1950s. Through the 50s and 60s, it communicated important information to farmers in England although in 1972 it gave up its deliberate educational perspective.