14,565 The Drum Beat 785, March 18, 2020 The Power of Words

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The Drum Beat 785
March 18, 2020
The Power of Words

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The Drum Beat that follows is focused on the overall development of our common field of work. It includes just a few of the many responses to a question we posed to The Communication Initiative (The CI) network at the start of the year: Which words used in the development context would you like to hear and read much less in 2020, and why? Your contributions demonstrate that, by critiquing the words we use, we can help inform key principles and strategies for future action.

Now, of course our social change, behaviour change, community engagement, and media development initiatives face a major challenge in the clear and present danger of COVID-19. There are many ideas below that could be helpful in meeting that challenge.

By the very nature of this pandemic, many of you are centrally involved in the effort. There are two ways we are seeking to support your work.

First, we are hosting an ongoing dialogue that provides a space for people in The CI network to share the top 3 things they think should be prioritised at this critical time. A recent example is this post from Guillaume Mukenge: “Community engagement, maintenance and strengthened extension services”.

Second, we are looking to identify, summarise, and share the initiatives that people and organisations in The CI network are taking to address COVID-19 in their contexts. These insights will be crucial inputs to inform the strategies that others are taking. How, for example, are you supporting the massive move to social distancing? Please do email info@comminit.com with any links, attachments, etc. that provide information on your work. We will share.

Thanks for contributing to this common resource.

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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.
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  • 1. “US” COMING IN TO “HELP” THEM
    A suggestion from Lorelei Beer
    “Unfortunately, beneficiaries or participants or clients or other terms currently at play perpetuate the ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ dichotomy…”
  • 2. COMMUNICATION
    A suggestion from Jane Sherman
    “On the Communication Initiative site, would it be OK to ring some changes on the word communication itself? It is too often used to mean one-way top-down messaging…”
  • 3. PARTICIPATION
    A suggestion from Bob Linney responding to the posts by Jane Sherman who herself was replying to Ann Thorstedt
    “I completely agree with your views about the weasel word ‘participation’…”
  • 4. PARTICIPATE
    A suggestion from Anise Waljee
    “The youth were clearly sick of being told it was ‘theirs’ but it was other people’s plans, agendas etc. The ‘other people’ were getting paid while the youth provided the information but got…”
  • 5. ACTORS
    A suggestion from Tahir Turk
    “I know it is supposed to relate to people taking action but it is more akin to actors in a theatre production who are acting out roles rather than constantly contemplating, trialling, maintaining, rejecting or advocating for a specific behaviour…”
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You may also be interested in these past issues of The Drum Beat:

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BUT THERE WAS ALSO PUSHBACK ON THE WORDS BEING FLOATED AND THE RATIONALE FOR THOSE WORDS. FOR EXAMPLE:
  • 6. Andrew Carlson cautioned “Maybe we shouldn’t throw out the baby…”
    I’m reading the above thread with interest and trepidation as we somewhat wantonly decide that we will toss out such hard won victories as ‘participation’…”
  • 7. Andrew was supported by Nisar Ahmed, who said “It’s definitely a little alarming to see so many terms that have taken decades to get established being thrown out at the tap of a key board…”
  • 8. …and Ann Thorsted, who said “[C]ommunication is more including than information and should be kept – and participation is central as well…”
  • 9. …with Jane Sherman also weighing in: “You are probably right that we can’t just dump the terms and post others in their place….With these terms we probably need to keep the names and remorselessly re-brand them. Anyone who claims to be an educator, or a donor, or concerned with social practices should be able to say on the spot what s/he means by them AND how they implement them in their activities…”
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PLEASE JOIN US IN THE DRUM BEAT NETWORKS
Words to hear (and use) less – Happy 2020 is situated in The CI’s networking space for dialogue and debate on issues raised and knowledge shared across The CI platform. Anyone can read the contributions, but to join and amplify the dialogue with your own voice, simply click here and either log in to your CI account or register, free of charge, to be part of The CI network.

We look forward to seeing you there!

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BACK TO SOME OF THE WORDS OTHER PEOPLE WANTED TO HEAR AND READ LESS AS WE MOVE THROUGH 2020
  • 10. LIMITS
    A suggestion from Denise Gray-Felder
    “A few of the suggested usages are also not acceptable to people in the affected community. For example, many of us believe that the type of LIMITATION should not define the person. Therefore we prefer ‘people living with physical disabilities.’ I have never met a human who does not have some limits…”
  • 11. POVERTY
    A suggestion from Carla Conrod
    “[Instead of] the disabled use people who are disabled. [Instead of] the homeless use people who are homeless. [Instead of] the poverty stricken use people who are experiencing poverty…”
  • 12. OUTPUT and SCALABILITY
    A suggestion from Neelima Mathur
    “The ‘system’ of development of IEC [information, education, and communication] messages has gotten deeply ingrained and gets skewed further and further with time – as people who create briefs, develop them, strategise dissemination, get more and more distanced from their ‘target groups’ and ‘beneficiaries’…”
  • 13. BEST PRACTICE
    A suggestion from Doug Reeler
    “The phrase ‘Best Practice’ is my personal bugbear. Indeed it makes me shiver…”
  • 14. IMPACT
    A suggestion from Alice Welbourn
    “The word ‘impact’ too is very militaristic and another word we try to avoid…”
  • 15. LEVERAGING, DEMAND SIDE, DRIVERS
    A suggestion from Leila Caleb Varley
    “I also find words from ‘market research’ very annoying like ‘leveraging’ or ‘drivers’ or economics like ‘demand side’ or ‘supply side’…”
  • 16. TRANSFORMATION
    A suggestion from khawajah
    “[T]he words transformative, transformation and transformational change have become jargonizing terms in the social sciences, international development and humanitarian aid industry…”
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PLEASE TAKE OUR SURVEY
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.
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This issue of The Drum Beat was written by Kier Olsen DeVries and Warren Feek.
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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)HeartlinesJohns 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

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The Editor of The Drum Beat is Kier Olsen DeVries.
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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.

To subscribe, click here.

To unsubscribe, please send an email to drumbeat@comminit.com with “Unsubscribe” in the subject line.

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