Development communication

Development communication

Development Communication, has been alternatively defined as a type of marketing and public opinion research that is used specifically to develop effective communication or as the use of communication to promote social development. Defined as the former, it often includes computerized linguistics analysis of verbatim responses to qualitative survey interviews and may, at times also involved consumer psychological "right brain" (emotional) research techniques. Defined at the latter, it refers to the practice of systematically applying the processes, strategies, and principles of communication to bring about positive social change. As most providers of "communication development" research use proprietary approaches that cannot be elaborated upon without revealing proprietary trade secrets, the remainder of this article describes the latter definition.[1] The practice of development communication can be traced back to efforts undertaken in various parts of the world during the 1940s, but the widespread application of the concept came about because of the problems that arose in the aftermath of World War II . The rise of the communication sciences in the 1950s saw a recognition of the field as an academic discipline, with Daniel Lerner, Wilbur Schramm, and Everett Rogers being the earliest influential advocates. The term "Development Communication" was first coined in 1972 by Nora C. Quebral, who defines the field as

"the art and science of human communication linked to a society's planned transformation from a state of poverty to one of dynamic socio-economic growth that makes for greater equity and the larger unfolding of individual potential."[2]

The theory and practice of development communication continues to evolve today, with different approaches and perspectives unique to the varied development contexts the field has grown in.[3]

Development communication is characterized by conceptual flexibility and diversity of communication techniques used to address the problem. Some approaches in the “tool kit” of the field include: information dissemination and education, behavior change, social marketing, social mobilization, media advocacy, communication for social change, and participatory development communication.



The theories and practices of development communication sprang from the many challenges and opportunities that faced development oriented institutions in the last century. And since these institutions existed in different contexts, different schools of development communication have arisen in different places over time.[3]

Manyozo (2006) suggests that the history field can be broken down into those of six different schools of development communication, with the Bretton Woods school being the dominant paradigm in international literature, and the other schools being the Latin American, Indian, Los Baños, African,and the participatory development communication schools.

The growing interest for these kind of applications is also reflected in the work of the World Bank, which is very active in promoting this field through its Development Communication division and recently (June 2008) published the Development Communication Sourcebook, a resource addressing the history, concepts and practical applications in this discipline.

The Bretton Woods school

The "Bretton Woods school of development communication" is a term that has been applied to the development communication approaches that arose with the economic strategies outlined in the Marshall Plan after World War two, and the establishment of the Bretton Woods system and of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in 1944.[3][4] The descriptive term is not widely used in the field, but has been used to differentiate between different "schools" or approaches to development which have historically evolved, sometimes independently, at later points in history and in other parts of the world.[4] Leading theorists under this school included Daniel Lerner, Wilbur Schramm, and Everett Rogers. Due to his pioneering influence in the field, Rogers has often been termed the "father of development communication."

Originally, the paradigm involved production and planting of development in indigenous and uncivilized societies. This western approach to development communication was criticized early on, especially by Latin American researchers such as Luis Ramiro Beltan and Alfonso Gumucio Dagron, because it tended to locate the problem in the underdeveloped nation rather than its unequal relations with powerful economies. There was also an assumption that Western models of industrial capitalism are appropriate for all parts of the world. Many projects for development communication failed to address the real underlying problems in poor countries such as lack of access to land, agricultural credits and fair market prices for products.[citation needed]

Failure of many development projects in the 1960s led to it reconceptualizing its top-down methods. (Manyozo, 2006) The school has reviewed its approaches over the years and has been the most dynamic in testing and adopting new approaches and methodologies.[3]

The world bank currently defines development communication as the "integration of strategic communication in development projects" based on a clear understanding of indigenous realities.[3]

Institutions associated with the Bretton Woods school include:

Latin America

The Latin American School of Development traces its history back further than the Bretton Woods school, emerging in the 1940s with the efforts of Colombia's Radio Sutatenza and Bolivia's Radios Mineras. These stations were the first to use participatory and educational rural radio approaches to empowering the marginalised. In effect, they have since served as the earliest models for participatory broadcasting efforts around the world.

In the 1960s Paolo Freire's theories of critical pedagogy and Miguel Sabido's enter-educate method became important elements of the Latin American development communication scene.[5][6]

Other theorists who have influenced this school include Juan Diaz Bordenave, Luis Ramiro Beltran, and Alfonso Gumucio Dagron. (Mayonzo 2006, Mayonzo, 2005)

In the 1990s, technological advances facilitated social change and development – new media outlets began to emerge, cable TV signal coverage spread over more regions, and as the presence of communication firms grew so did an echoed global trend from major corporations.[7]


The history of organised development communication in India can be traced to rural radio broadcasts in the 1940s. As is logical, the broadcasts used indigenous languages such as Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati and Kannada.

Independent India'ss earliest organized experiments in development communication started with Community Development projects initiated by the union government in the 1950s. The government, guided by socialistic ideals of its constitution and the first generation of politicians, started massive developmental programmes throughout the country. While field publicity was given due importance for person-to-person communication - also because the level of literacy was very low in rural areas - radio played an equally important role in reaching messages to the masses. Universities and other educational institutions - especially the agricultural universities, through their extension networks - and international organisations under the UN umbrella carried the dev-comm experiments further.

Development communication in India, a country of sub-continental proportions, acquires many connotations. On one end of the spectrum are the tools and techniques locally applied by charitable and not-for-profit organisations with very close inter-personal relations among the communicators and on the other end is the generic, far-off, one-way sort of communication emanating from the government.

The need for development communication continues since a large population, over 600 million, lives in rural areas and depends directly on agriculture. Poverty is reducing as percentage of population but still over 200 million are very poor as of 2009. They all, and the urban slum dwellers, need government support in different forms. Therefore, communication from the government remains highly relevant. In addition to the traditional ways, a new form of communication is being tried by the union government to support its developmental activities, though at a limited scale. Called Public Information Campaigns, public shows are organised in remote areas where information on social and developmental schemes is given, seminars and workshops are held, villagers and their children are engaged in competitions, messages are given through entertainment shows. In addition, government organisations and corporates involved in rural businesses display their wares and services in stalls lining the main exhibition area. This approach brings various implementing agencies and service / goods providers while the information providers encourage the visitors to make the best use of various schemes and services available. Some state [=provincial] governments have also adopted this model to take their development schemes to the masses.

Community radio is another new medium getting a foothold in rural India, though in patches. NGOs and educational institutions are given licence to set up a local community radio station to broadcast information, advisories and messages on developmental aspects. Participation of local community is encouraged. As community radio provides a platform to villagers to broadcast local issues, it has the potential to elicit positive action from local politicians and civil servants.


The African school of development communication sprang from the continent's post-colonial and communist movements in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Development communication in Anglophone Africa saw the use of Radio and theatre for community education, adult literacy, health and agricultural education.

In 1994 the FAO project "Communication for Development in Southern Africa" was a pioneer in supporting and enhancing development projects and programs through the use of participatory communication approaches. The FAO project, placed under SADC, developed an innovative methodology known as PRCA - Participatory Rural Communication Appraisal, which combined participatory tools and techniques with a strong communication focus needed to design strategies enhancing projects' results and sustainability. FAO and SADC published a handbook on PRCA and this methodology is still widely used today in various projects around the world.

Meanwhile, radio was being developed as a means of promoting rural development in Francophone Africa, with sponsorship from the Bretton Woods school institutions. (Kamlongera, 1983, Mlama, 1971, Mayonzo 2006, Mayonzo, 2005)

University of the Philippines Los Baños

The systematic study and practice of Development Communication in the Philippines began in the 1970s with the pioneering work of Nora C. Quebral, who, in 1972 became the first to come up with the term "Development Communication." In at least some circles within the field, it is Quebral who is recognized as the "Mother" of Development Communication.

Quebral's work with the University of the Philippines Los Baños' Office of Extension and Publications evolved into today's College of Development Communication, which in 1971 became the first to offer degree programs at the Doctorate, Masteral's and Undergraduate degree levels.

Aspects of development communication which the CDC has extensively explored include Development Broadcasting and Telecommunications, Development Journalism, Educational Communication, Science Communication, Strategic Communication, and Health Communication.

Cybernetics approach

Another area of exploration for the CDC at UPLB is the aspect of development communication relating to the information sciences, the decision sciences, and the field of knowledge management. In 1993, as part of the then Institute of Development Communication's Faculty papers series, Alexander Flor wrote a paper on environmental communication that, among other things, proposed a definition of Development Communication expanded from the perspective of cybernetics and general systems theory[8]:

If information counters entropy and societal breakdown is a type of entropy, then there must be a specific type of information that counters societal entropy. The exchange of such information - be it at the individual, group, or societal level - is called development communication.

The Participatory Development Communication school

Focusing the involvement of the community in development efforts, and greatly influenced by Freirean critical pedagogy and by the Los Baños school, the evolution of the Participatory Development Communication School involved collaboration between First World and Third World development communication organisations. (Mayonzo 2006; Mayonzo, 2005; Besette, 2004)


One of the first examples of development communication was Farm Radio Forums in Canada. From 1941 to 1965 farmers met in groups each week to listen to special radio programs. There were also printed materials and prepared questions to encourage group discussion. At first this was a response to the Great Depression and the need for increased food production in World War II. But the Forums also dealt with social and economic issues. This model of adult education or distance education was later adopted in India and Ghana.

Similar to Canada's Farm Radio Forums, Radyo DZLB, the community broadcasting station of UPLB College of Development Communication is a forerunner of school-on-air (SOA) concept that provides non-formal education for rural folk. DZLB has hosed SOAs on nutrition, pest management and cooperatives.[9] Currently, DZLB continues to air educational programming for farmers and cooperatives.

Instructional television was used in El Salvador during the 1970s to improve primary education. One of the problems was a lack of trained teachers. Teaching materials were also improved to make them more relevant. More children attended school and graduation rates increased. In this sense the project was a success. However, there were few jobs available in El Salvador for better-educated young people.

In the 1970s in Korea the Planned Parenthood Federation had succeed in lowering birth rates and improving life in villages such as Oryu Li. It mainly used interpersonal communication in women's clubs. The success in Oryu Li was not found in all villages. It had the advantage of several factors including a remarkable local woman leader and visits from the provincial governor.

A project of social marketing in Bolivia in the 1980s tried to get women in the Cochabamba Valley to use soybean recipes in their cooking. This was an attempt to deal with chronic malnurishment among children. The project used cooking demonstrations, posters and broadcasts on local commercial radio stations. Some people did try soybeans but the outcome of the project is unclear.

In 1999 the U.S. Government and D.C. Comics planned to distribute 600,000 comic books to children affected by the Kosovo War. The comic books are in Albanian and feature Superman and Wonder Woman. The aim is to teach children what to do when they find an unexploded land mine left over from Kosovo's civil war. The comic books instruct children not to touch the anti-personnel mines and not to move, but instead to call an adult for help. In spite of the 1997 Ottawa Treaty which attempts to ban land mines they continue to kill or injure 20,000 civilians each year around the world.

Since 2002, Journalists for Human Rights, a Canadian based NGO, has operated long term projects in Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and the DR Congo. jhr works directly with journalists, providing monthly workshops, student sessions, on the job training, and additional programs on a country by country basis.

Pressing issues within the field

Sustainable Development

Sustainable development is the process of maximizing the use of available resources in order to ensure the long-term wellbeing of present and future beneficiaries. Sustainable Development is a continuous progress which aims for and maintains a constructive state of living in society as preserved by social institutions and systems. However, sustainable development entails 1.Economic sustainability. 2.Social sustainability. 3.Cultural sustainability.

Community/People Participation

Community/People Participation is a voluntary involvement of an informed and motivated community while being equipped with proper knowledge and training in which they are equally gratified. It is the active involvement of members of a particular social unit in all aspects of developmental procedures (planning, decision-making, evaluating, monitoring, etc...). An equipped and facilitated environment is arranged to initiate the involvement of different willing social units, as to enhance the process of development and communication amongst its members. The participating people can inject or infuse to another people of the society largely, of the ideas and perception of the developmental process or project ongoing round about them. Community participation propels the objective of development communication. A variety of methodologies are used to advance people's participation, such as peer education, community mapping, participatory rural appraisal, among others. The sole heart of community participation is the people.

Complications in practice

Like any intervention covering the society, and more because human communication itself is complicated, development communication can become complicated. The complications increase when we deal with diverse societies over a large area, such as India; when we try to change behavior of the recipients and in the process bring in many types of media / persuasive skills; and when the ground realities do not allow results to reach the target audience, i.e. there is disconnect between the ground realities and messages. Cultural factors including local rituals and mores, nuances of language, gender perceptions, affect the reception of messages and their impact. The success of dev-comm will, therefore, depend on the credibility of the messenger, the simplicity and directness of the message, and its location-specificity. This aspect assumes more significance when we communicate in complex societies.

Other related definitions

Development Communication is recognizing the power of communication as a catalyst for social development. It is also the utilization of existent communication tools and applicable theories for result-driven strategies for the advancement of society.[citation needed]

Development Communication can also be defined as purposive communication intended for a specific target audience that allows for the translation of information into action resulting in a higher quality of life.

It is greatly linked with the concepts of Sustainable Development (which can be defined as the improvement of a community using information and technology and the community's ability to maintain the created ideal state without compromising its environment and resources). It also relies greatly on Community and People Participation, which is the voluntary involvement of a group of people in a development activity with full knowledge of its purpose that will allow them to grow individually and as a community.

Development communication is the process of eliciting positive change (social, political, economic, moral, environmental, etc.) through an effective exchange of pertinent information in order to induce people to action.[citation needed]

If the present understanding of communication and development are integrated, the horizon of a practitioner's understanding of development communication will widen. It will not be limited by historical definitions but include the following elements and more such aspects. Development "communication" thus would include: information dissemination on developmental schemes/projects, communication for eliciting positive change, interactivity, feedback on developmental issues, feedback/reverse communication for eliciting change. On development side, sustainability issues need to be given proper importance vis-a-vis economic development.

Development Support Communication:- The term can be described as development planning and implementation in which adequate action is taken of human behavioural factors in the design of development project and their objectivities. It addresses development planning and the plan of operation for implementation. Development support communication is urgently suggested by UNESCO, UNDP and communication scholars and practitioners worldwide. It (DSC) stands for linking all agencies involved in the planned development works such as political executives, political planners, development administrators, subject specialists, field workers, opinion leaders, media representatives, researchers and the beneficiaries who continue the final delivery points and the consumers of the information. The route of communication envisaged are not only vertical as flowing from upper level to bottom or bottom level to uppwards but also horizontal between the institutions and personnelconnected with the process of development.

OBJECTIVITY: The fundamental objective of DSC,is to communicate the latest skills, knowledge and innovation to the agriculturists so that by adopting them the agriculturists may increase their output manifold. In this connection three vital groups are identified which are as follows:

(1)Innovation or Knowledge generation. (2)The political leaders or government of the state. (3)Users of the knowledge or agriculturists.

A very close interaction is necessary among the three groups as mentioned above, to achieve the success of development support communication. (Phazcom 26.02.09.)

International Communication - the intellectual field that deals with issues of mass communication at a global level - is sometimes also called development communication. This field includes the history of the telegraph, submarine communication cables, shortwave or international broadcasting, satellite television, and global flows of mass media. Today it includes issues of the Internet in a global perspective and the use of new technologies such as mobile phones in different parts of the world.[10]

See also


  1. ^ Quebral, Nora C. (1973/72). "What Do We Mean by ‘Development Communication’". International Development Review 15 (2): 25–28. 
  2. ^ Quebral, Nora (23 November 2001). "Development Communication in a Borderless World". Paper presented at the national conference-workshop on the undergraduate development communication curriculum, "New Dimensions, Bold Decisions". Continuing Education Center, UP Los Baños: Department of Science Communication, College of Development Communication, University of the Philippines Los Baños. pp. 15–28. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Manyozo, Linje (March 2006). "Manifesto for Development Communication: Nora C. Quebral and the Los Baños School of Development Communication". Asian Journal of Communication 16 (1): 79–99. doi:10.1080/01292980500467632 
  4. ^ a b "CFSC Pioneer: Honouring Nora Quebral". 
  5. ^ Arvind Singhal, Everett M. Rogers (1999). Entertainment-education: A Communication Strategy for Social Change , Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. ISBN 0805833501.
  6. ^ Arvind Singhal, Michael J. Cody, Everett M. Rogers, Miguel Sabido (2004). Entertainment-Education and Social Change: History, Research, and Practice. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. ISBN 0-8058-4552-6
  7. ^ Peirano, Luis. "CFSC Analysis and Opinion: Developing a Unique Proposal for Communication for Development in Latin America". MAZI Articles. Communication for Social Change Consortium, Inc.. Retrieved 22 September 2011. 
  8. ^ Flor, Alexander (1993). Upstream and Downstream Interventions in Environmental Communication. Institute of Development Communication. 
  9. ^ Ongkiko, Ila Virginia (1998). Introduction to Development Communication. SEAMEO Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research and Agriculture and University of the Philippines Open University. 
  10. ^ Thussu, Daya Kishan (2000). International Communication: Continuity and Change. London: Arnold. 

Further reading

  • Goran Hedebro, Communication and Social Change in Developing Nations: A Critical View (Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1982).
  • Everett Rogers, "Communication and development: the passing of a dominant paradigm," Communication Research 3, 2, (1976): 213-40.
  • Luis Ramiro Beltran, "A Farewell to Aristotle: Horizontal Communication," Communication 5 (1980), 5-41.
  • Thomas McPhail, Development Communication: Reframing the Role of the Media (London: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009).
  • Gumucio-Dagron, Alfonso & Tufte, Thomas (Eds.) (2006). Communication for Social Change Anthology: Historical and Contemporary Readings. Communication For Social Change Consortium.

External links

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