Participating in Positive Change

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Development Communication as a panacea to world’s major problems

Development Communication as a panacea/solution to world’s major problems The world is more than ever before faced with the growing challenges such as poverty alleviation, improvement in health conditions, education, political and women empowerment, climate change, terrorism, immigration among others। In a bid to resolving these problems, one of the most important aspects, that is, development communication is not being implemented or it is being done artificially. Development communication means dialogue, involving people, it is understanding etc. We cannot dialogue with each other when we do not want to involve them or when we do not want to even see them at all. We cannot effectively carry out development communication when our hidden agenda is to exploit others. The world today, be it in the private or public sector, needs leaders, managers, and people well drilled in development communication and who will practice it effectively and efficiently. This is not about sitting in offices and giving orders or signing repressive decrees that do not only affect our people negatively but, which go beyond our national and territorial boundaries. Arabs and Christians, the West and the Moslem world, developed and developing countries, opposition and ruling parties need to go in for meaningful dialogue. These groups also need to dialogue and involve each other in their various setups. All these, for the sake of meaningful sustainable development. Development communication is not only about information sharing and mutual understanding but, also, going in for collective action. It implies that the stakeholders in the process of development who include; local leaders, the people targeted in a given project, as well as those coordinating just to mention a few, are expected to sit down and discuss on how they will go about a given program. In the process of dialogue, misunderstandings are reduced and disagreements, minimized. With the growing need for development in the field of health, education, poverty alleviation, women empowerment etc, several national and international Non governmental organizations, local governments and other institutions are on the ground to achieve the millennium development goals. Participatory development communication istherefore extremely important but, is not only limited at the level of NGOs, but also, extended to government and local beneficiaries. Is the Bretton Woods failing? Even the Breton Woods institutions, major proponents of development communication are wanting, in effectively implementing participatory development communication. Most of its clients, impoverish countries in the developing world, remain receivers of instructions instead of people participating in dialogue, understanding and effective development communication that can bring about an improvement in the living conditions of people. The IMF and World Bank merely give instructions among which has been the privatization without calculation on the impact of such measures on people. Many of their programs have failed woefully like the Structural Adjustment programs because of ineffective development communication strategies. The Prime Minister of Cameroon, Thomas Ephraim Inoni, in a newspaper report on November 19, 2008 attributed Cameroon’s slow economic development as partly due to stringent and unrealistic IMF policies. "It is now evident that government had become fed-up with the IMF imposed conditionality to accordingly bail the country from its long economic crunch” Eden newspaper wrote. He “acknowledged that development in the country under Biya had been slow but blamed this on what he described as IMF constraints" while presenting 2009 draft budget of his country in parliament. ." This may be a complain from a lazy government but does not cancel the fact that they may still have a point. In most cases, the Bretton Woods institutions meet with leaders of various countries while ignoring the civil society. The United Nations too? Even the United Nations is not different. We cannot practice or talk about participatory development communication when a few are in the Security Council, some with what is called veto power, almost block the survival of other states. In development communication, no party can successfully succeed when others reign as kings' not ready to listen but to give orders." As Agunga (1997) notes, Communication should be geared towards creating and stimulating understanding as a basis of development rather than merely transmitting information. " I consider US President-elect, Barack Obama’s plan to meet with leaders of some countries considered as "sponsors" of terrorism like Iran, a positive approach toward development communication. Instead of sitting in offices with stereotypes and considering people as terrorists, dictators whereas they may be freedom fighters, it is important to meet dialogue with them and know what people want. What is rather evident is that capitalism hates any form of dialogue or development communication that will benefit the other party other than itself. It seeks for exploitation and survival of the fittest, which is terrible. As my conclusion, get the people involved; use the right strategies and the right people (professionals) to pilot development communication in all our institutions and in every project. How often do elected officials especially in developing countries go back to their electorates to explain certain issues and get their views? ?????" Aloysius Agendia

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