13,733 Social Shakes, Part I, The Drum Beat 767, December 12, 2018


The Drum BeatSocial Shakes, Part I – The Drum Beat 767
December 12, 2018
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In this issue:


The final Drum Beat of the year – the first in a 2-part series – features some reflections from Warren Feek, The Communication Initiative (The CI)’s founder and Executive Director, on the recent occasion of our 21st birthday. Anniversaries present the opportunity for introspection and critical thinking – much of which is inspired by you, our network, as the spark of what we have built and sustained over the years. We are so grateful to you who read, comment on, and contribute your thoughts and resources to this ever-expanding, diverse communication for development (C4D) community. As we transition to a new year together, we look forward to much more stimulating dialogue and action in 2019 and beyond.

– Kier Olsen DeVries, Senior Editor, The CI, and Editor, The Drum Beat

In my Kiwi culture, the big birthday was “21”! That is key-to-the-door time. This has changed a bit over time, of course. It has been some time since I turned 21. Cultures change!

In October 2018, The CI had its 21st birthday. Do not worry if you missed it – we forgot to tell anyone! There are a huge number of thanks to be communicated to everyone who has been involved in this initiative. With their indulgence and understanding, I will come to those thanks at a later date.

As you will be well aware, the role of The CI is to support you and your work in 3 main ways:
* Share your experiences, ideas, insights, and knowledge;
* Help you identify the knowledge and people who can provide the added value you seek to improve the scale and impact of your work; and
* Advance the strategic thinking that will help make our field of work even more effective.

To celebrate this birthday, and with your indulgence, I want to put aside those principles for a virtual minute and take the liberty of sharing my ideas about what constitutes effective communication, media, social change, behaviour change, informed and engaged societies action. Those ideas and the analysis and data to support them are derived from having the honour of sharing the work of so many people, as well as the pleasure of having so many debates and discussion about Development trends and the required responses to accelerate the progress and turn around the things that are getting worse. Please note that this is my own personal perspective. It does not represent the views of anyone else, including our much valued and respected partners.

Two other quick perspectives on what follows. First, please review them as you would a series of notes. This is not an attempt at a full, rounded, and complete argument. It is the introductory notes for such an argument, and your responses will be a huge help in that process. Second, I have chosen to focus on health-related examples. Why? Although The CI works across all development issues, much of what follows could be self-evident when placed in the context of democracy and governance, human rights, and other obviously people-centred processes. But health sets the tone and style for much development thinking. So, I have chosen to make the arguments below in direct relation to the most difficult issues on which to make the case.

So, here goes. Just to stress that these are excerpts only. Please click the links for the full text. And please do engage in debate through either the comments section at the end of each section and/or the dialogue we will commence at this link.

From The Communication Initiative Network – where communication and media are central to social and economic development.
LIKE The CI on FacebookFOLLOW The CI on TwitterVIEW this issue onlineREAD PAST ISSUES of The Drum Beat; and ask your colleagues and networks to SUBSCRIBE to The Drum Beat.

SOCIAL SHAKES – rethinking the core principles for principled and effective development action
  • “People, communities, groups and organisations become active and organised on the issues and conditions about which they have passion and interest. Others, from their perspectives and interests, resist the change being promulgated. Pressure builds through engagement, debate, dialogue, organisation, conversation, argument and positioning. For better or worse, depending on your perspective and interest(s), things are shaken up a little. The social terrain changes….These changes have produced real impact. That cannot be denied. And that change has been at huge scale – also undeniable. It is also the kind of change that underpins, drives, strengthens and sustains progress across a broad range of specific goals. For example, the women’s movement and the rights of women have been crucial for the full range of Development goals in the past – and they are essential for further, accelerated progress moving forward.” (These are excerpts from the full text, which ca! n be reviewed at this link.)

  • “There is a common impression in local, national and international Development that because professional people from all disciplines can talk, write, phone, type and “chat”…therefore, everyone is a communicator. That, of course, is not the case. Strategic communication to achieve Development goals requires very sophisticated skills and knowledge. Because we can all handle a knife does not mean we are all surgeons. Closer to our Development home, because we can all count does not mean that we are all statisticians. But people directly experiencing development issues – those who are directly affected – are communication experts. The voice they give to their intimate experiences and analysis is vital for change on any issue – as are the communication skills they exercise to consult, review, assess and organise related to their peers and the issues they have in common. That is also communication in action. It is that nexus of intimate voice and professio! nal communication expertise that requires the sophisticated strategies required for change.” (Click here to continue reading and to comment.)

  • When we assess the major reasons why significant improvements have taken place, it is tempting to exclusively focus on technologies with scientifically proven attributes – condoms, vaccines, oral rehydration salts, clean water systems, food supplements, and many more. But many of those “services” or “products” would not have been developed and used without a high degree of entanglement with a series of social changes. By social change I do not mean a supportive environment where change is limited to simply supporting the availability and use of a product or technology. It is the enmeshment, entwinement, entanglement of the issue or problem within a series of larger social changes taking place that is as important for progress as the technologies being developed and promoted.” (Click here to continue reading and to comment.)

  • Family Size/Fertility Trends
    “The ICPD [International Conference on Population and Development] identified that a key element for further progress on fertility rate and births per 100,000 was going to be (and turned out to be), what UNFPA summarises as “: https://www.unfpa.org/publications/international-conference-population-and-development-programme-action] the “recognition that reproductive health and rights, as well as women’s empowerment and gender equality, are cornerstones of population and development programmes.” There is no vaccine for rights, empowerment, equality and gender. Only communication strategies can move, and have moved, those issues in a positive direction.” (Click here to continue reading and to comment.)
  • Tobacco
    “There has been a major social norm change related to tobacco and smoking in so many countries. Challenges remain, of course, including the new phenomena of vaping. But over a 20-year period, in many countries, smoking has gone from being the ultra-cool thing to do…to smokers being the new pariahs….This was a social movement communication process. It was not narrowly focused on message delivery seeking to influence people to make individual behaviour changes.” (Click here to continue reading and to comment.)
  • Ebola
    “It was only when some real communicators became involved that the tide began to turn. Now there were initiatives that gave locals in Liberia, Guinea and elsewhere a voice; that facilitated public and private spaces for conversation about Ebola; that shared important knowledge in ways that resonated with local cultural touchstones; that in thought and deed were highly respectful of local, cultural and family tradition and practices, even as they sought to facilitate adapting those ways of life to ones that advance safer health; and that were openly led with a much better balance between local people and international ‘experts’.” (Click here to continue reading and to comment.)
  • Polio
    “The most dramatic new development exemplifying the ‘closer to people’ approach was the Social Mobilization Network….The emphasis was on local people; it was organised at the community block level, with tasks that required local engagement (for example, mapping of families and house markings). Its focus was on working with local political representatives, religious figures, and administrators, with localised data sets (for example, missing children) and spaces for local debates (for example, in mosques) on the issues involved in polio eradication.” (Click here to continue reading and to comment.)
    “Many people in the early 1990s, from their social communication perspectives, reflecting on the lessons learned from gay movements and the processes in Uganda, were almost literally yelling at policymakers and funders to please pay attention to this dynamic and to please support these localised communication actions that had demonstrated impact. Rather strangely, the international reaction was to do just the opposite.” (Click here to continue reading and to comment.)
  • Child Health
    “It is both notable and instructive that UNICEF did not seek adoption of a convention called the Convention on Programming for the Needs of Children, or some equivalent “needs”, “interventions”, “programmes”, “strategies”, or “solutions” title such as the Convention to Get as Many Health Products as Possible to as Many Kids as Possible!….They chose rights as the heart of the approach. Rights are sensitive – they require debate, dialogue, conversation, advocacy and clarity concerning meaning. They need communication.” (Click here to continue reading and to comment.)
Part II of this Social Shakes Drum Beat will be published on January 9 2019!

ENQUIRY: Your priorities, opportunities and challenges!
What kinds of challenges and opportunities infuse your communication and media development, social and behavioural change work? This survey is a chance for you to let us know! We will report back on results and trends so you can gain insights from your peers in the network.
Click here to lend your voice.
This issue of The Drum Beat was written by Warren Feek.
The Drum Beat is the email and web network of The Communication Initiative Partnership.

Full list of the CI Partners:
ANDIBBC Media ActionBernard van Leer FoundationBreakthroughCiturna TVFundación ImaginarioFundación Nuevo Periodismo Iberoamericano (FNPI)Heartlines,Johns Hopkins Center for Communication ProgramsMaternal and Child Survival Program (MCSP)MISAOpen Society FoundationsOxfam NovibPAHOThe Panos InstitutePuntos de EncuentroSAfAIDSSesame WorkshopSoul CitySTEPS InternationalUNAIDSUNICEFUniversidad de los AndesWorld Health Organization (WHO)W.K. Kellogg Foundation

The Drum Beat seeks to cover the full range of communication for development activities. Inclusion of an item does not imply endorsement or support by The Partners.

Chair of the Partners Group: Garth Japhet, Founder, Soul City garth@heartlines.org.za

Executive Director: Warren Feek wfeek@comminit.com

The Editor of The Drum Beat is Kier Olsen DeVries.
Please send additional project, evaluation, strategic thinking, and materials information on communication for development at any time. Send to drumbeat@comminit.com

To reproduce any portion of The Drum Beat, click here for our policy.

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