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So far, we have discussed various aspects of development communication. We have read the definitions of development communication by v...

Development Communication | Case Studies And Experience


So far, we have discussed various aspects of development communication. We have read the definitions of development communication by various authors. We have studied the philosophy of development communication. It is purposive, positive and pragmatic. Then we discussed the emphasis on development communication given by Daniel Lerner, Everett Rogers and Wilbur Schramm.

Communication is a vital element in the whole strategy of development in Third World countries. The UNESCO has already spelt out the various steps one must take while planning communication strategies for development projects. So far so good. Now, we shall discuss some case studies, which will give you the experience of implementing development communication. So, experience the reality.

Scavenger Development Programme of Indonesia: Case Study-I
"Scavenger Development Programme" of Indonesia makes a good case study to illustrate the point that carefully-planned communication strategy can contribute to the development of man and society. This case study is of high relevance under Indian conditions, given the crucial role played by social and economic status factors impinging on the development 
process.

"Rivers and canals clogged by plastic bags, smouldering piles of garbage on the streets and unofficial dump sites in vacant compounds are a common sight in many developing countries. In Indonesia, major cities suffer from water and air pollution caused by 'wild' dumping and burning of waste. There is a group of people counteracting this disaster, drive not by ecological consciousness but by dire straits-scavengers.

The position of these rural migrants in the informal urban sector is controversial as they are regarded as criminals, tramps, or even untouchables by officials and the public. However, scavengers serve important functions. Environmentally, they shoulder part of the ecological costs of development through recycling waste. As they are self-employed, the state saves the economic costs of social security payments. And the raw material from recycled waste turns to gold for the formal economy as it has a yearly value of US $50 million in Jakarta alone.

The scavenger's problems lie in their insecure legal and social status. Together with a lack of overt productivity and economic dependency, they are easy targets for harassment, eviction, corruption and exploitation from middlemen, the private sector and local authorities. And the scavengers have, traditionally, been denied access to local decision-making, loans, education, public services and the media - their contributions left unrecognized.

But then, their plight is to be communicated to the other groups of society. They are there in the streets of Jakarta, Bandung, Surabaya, etc. And it is communication, which is bringing a change in their lives and an awareness about their existence in society. We shall discuss it:

An Integrated Media Approach
Some people did recognize the needs and contributions of the scavengers. However, the "Scavenger Development Program", financed by Deutsche Gesellschaft fur technique Zusamrnenarbiet (GTZ) and supported by the Indonesian Home Affairs Department, has been in operation since mid-1991. Implemented by the NGOs in three major cities, Jakarta, Bandung, and Surabaya, the programme uses an integrated media approach to promote the welfare of the scavengers, foster their social and communication competence, and heighten awareness about the waste management, recycling and the plight of the scavenger. The integrated media approach plans to affect change at various political, economic and social levels by:
  • lobbying for policy changes to improve their legal status;
  • improving their public image and social status;
  • increasing their productivity and the value-added of recycled products through increasing bargaining power;
  • enhancing their participation in local decision-making;
  • developing appropriate technology within the context of an Urban Integrated Resource Recovery System; and
  • educating the public about the.environment.

The strategy chosen aims to be not 'about' or 'for' the scavengers, but 'with' and 'by' them. The process of change is designed to occur, internally, within the scavenger population by increasing their self-confidence and ability to command respect and resources, and externally within the broader urban population by communicating with people about the lives, hardships and contribution of this scavenger community.

Street Theatre of the Scavenger: Theatre can, at any time, at any place, and almost at any cost, be staged once the principal technique and concepts have been acquired. When linked to the development activity at the local level, the power of the performance increases dramatically. Looking closely at this example, the scavengers' structural poverty was connected to a lack of bargaining power, that is, a lack of the ability to articulate the key factors of the daily life needed for active participation in the social, political and economic sphere. The scavengers live in a 'culture of silence' - they have learned from experience that it is safer to keep one's mouth shut as long as housewives, policemen, shop owners or city officials are powerful, and regard them as outlaws. However, when their views are translated into a medium, like a theatre, that is informative and entertaining to the public at the same time, communication works. Given this chance, the scavengers can communicate with people who otherwise would not even take notice of them. The training necessary to achieve this communicative competence is organized by the community media activities from a local NGO.

The storyline not only concentrates on problems but also solutions suggested and assistance needed by the scavenger groups. The scavengers research the scripts on their own. Their own life stories, humour and word games, local idioms and other forms of interaction become outlets for criticism and eye-opening insights in a form socially acceptable to an audience of the neighbours and local officials from the communities where the scavengers live and work. Often, theatre performances become a starter for a more continuous dialogue. Always, the performance increases awareness.

Exposure Programmes for Journalists: The radio and press journalists from major regions are then invited for one-day workshops, where 'hard facts' on the scavengers are covered. Afterwards, the journalists are exposed to real life and the dump shacks, waste processing workshops, and self-initiated scavenger cooperatives and schools. Very often, first-hand experience and discussions with scavengers result in more positive articles and features about their role in society and their environmental contribution.

Political Dialogue: Also on the regional level, exposure programmes, seminars and political dialogue are held with officials, private businesses, and donors - partially using the media produced in cooperation with them - so the scavengers can lobby for a better legal, economic, and social status.
National TV Series: On the national level, a series of 13 episodes on the scavengers living conditions and their ecological and economic contribution to society will be broadcast on the New Educational Channel ('IF!). The programmes are produced by the same NGO that does the theatre training. The scavengers participate in scriptwriting, directing and acting which results in an unusually authentic series. The partly documentary, partly dramatized episodes also show the considerable gains by the scavengers in their newly established competency and cross-cultural communication skills. At the same time, the commentators in the series suggest ways to help the scavengers recycle waste for ecological and economic reasons.

Through the integrated media project, the scavengers have gained bargaining power in their living situations and at their jobs. The communication process, the mediating NGOs support provides this non-privileged group with access to small and large media and to decision making institutions in the political and economic sphere. Evident through increased recognition outside their communities, the scavengers have gained self-esteem and confidence in themselves, competence in formulating their problems and needs, and ultimately, respect and rights from other groups of society. The public is also benefiting from the project. Whereas the public had perceived the scavengers to be intellectually crippled. now, two daily newspapers in Surabaya and Jakarta and a radio station in Bandung have begun' regular columns or programmes to recognize the complexity of the informal sector. The success belongs to the use of the media delivery system. Not used as an exercise of power and persuasion with the scavengers as passive targets, the informative, educative and entertaining capacity of the media could not just give people a voice, but work for everyone to make it heard and understood. (Development Communication Report, No. 76, 199U1)

Site Project: Case Study-II India's biggest experience in using the mass media for development was the Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE) of 1975-76. This one year project was primarily undertaken to telecast special developmental programmes through the satellite communication to six rural clusters, which included a total of 2330 villages, scattered in 20 districts, spread over six states - Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat. 

Its objectives were to:
  • improve the rural primary school education,
  • provide training to the teachers,
  • improve agriculture, health and hygiene, and nutritional practice, and
  • contribute to family planning ad national integration
After the completion of the project evaluation studies, the results showed that exposure-to developmental messages through the television had contributed to the widening of horizons of the villagers.

SITE is one of the biggest and technologically most advanced social experiments in direct broadcasting for education and development. It is also one of the largest Indo-US experiments in communication conducted so far. In this project, the experimenters main objective was to provide instantaneous information for national development to those who otherwise would have been deprived of such information for many years to come due to technological constraints.

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