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AFRO-NETS> The Drum Beat - 93 - Making Waves - The Strategy

The Drum Beat - 93 - Making Waves - The Strategy

This is the 2nd in the series of The Drum Beats focused on Making 
Waves - the recent book on participatory communication for social 
change by Alfonso Gumucio Dagron, published by The Rockefeller Foun-
dation [a partner in The Communication Initiative]. 

In this issue the focus is on the concept, principles and lessons for 
effective communication that have been drawn from the communication 
experiences described in the book. 

For a more complete outline of the communication concepts that under-
pin Making Waves, see the foreword by Denise Gray-Felder 
<> and the introduc-
tion by Alfonso Gumucio Dagron:

Please note: The following quotes have been excerpted directly from 
the text. The sub-headings have been created for The Drum Beat.

For a free printed copy of the full publication,
- request "Making Waves, Job #3184"


1. "The experiences of participatory communication for social change 
are as diverse as the cultural and geographic settings in which they 
have been developing."

2. "It looks like, at the grassroots level, the need for communica-
tion has been deeply felt by the people who took action to make it 
possible, while at the planning and implementation level of donor and 
government driven projects there has been little consciousness about 


3. "Capturing the essence of participatory communication on paper is 
by definition an illusive challenge. From the work I've witnessed, 
helped direct, or just monitored during a long career in communica-
tion, my observation is that the most interesting work of a partici-
patory nature can often defy the written word." 


Babel, The Bank, Genes & Ethics - the recipe for?....[and what will 
you see tomorrow?]
Check for Tempo. New news Tuesday & Friday.



4. "...empowering people living in poor communities across the world 
to seize control of their own life stories and begin to change their 
circumstances of poverty, discrimination and exclusion..."

5. ...The power of community decision-making and action..."

6. "...voice...hearing about the lives and circumstances of the poor 
and excluded in words and terms that they themselves use."

7. for projects that return to traditional forms of commu-
nication: drama, dance, music, puppets, drums, storytelling and dia-
logue circles...have come to appreciate the true power of face-to-
face and voice-to-voice communication."


Gas cylinders...missiles...and children?...[and tomorrow?]
Scroll down for About Time. New Tuesday & Friday.


8. " ownership [is] present - The community itself had to 
be in charge of the communication initiative, even if the community 
had not originated it... Project appropriated by the community. [Ide-
ally] a community runs the communication initiative in all aspects: 
financing, administration, training, technical, etc."

9. "...communication adopt[s] different forms according to 
blueprint model can impose itself over the richness of views and cul-
tural interactions." 

10. "The dynamic of social struggle and social development is a proc-
ess, and the accompanying communication components are also part of 
the process and subject to the same positive and negative influences. 

11. "...experiences well-established at the community level, not just 
one-time projects with a lifespan limited by donor's inputs."

12. "...[communication] initiative should be rooted into the commu-
nity's daily life."

13. "...strengthen democratic values, culture and peace...reinforcing 
the community based organisations and allowing the majority to have a 

14. "Cultural identity should be central to the communication experi-
ence. The community should have assimilated any new tools of informa-
tion technology without jeopardising local values or language.


The country with the highest TB per capita in the world is....? scroll down to Base Line.



15. "In Europe and the United States, the recent literature on commu-
nication for development often refers only to books and documents 
published in English. Thus, studies on the theory of communication 
development will often include in their bibliography references to 
the same old paradigms: Lerner, Rogers, Schramm. and some of the new 
ones: Jacobson, Servaes, White, Korten, Ascroft, Schiller or Haber-
mas, among others. There wouldn't be references to Mattelart, Freire, 
Agrawal, Nair, Hamelink, Flugesang or Castells if their essays were 
not translated to English or written in English. And definitely, the 
very important contributions of Diaz Bordenave, Martin Barbero, 
Prieto Castillo, Reyes Matta, Beltran and others from Latin America, 
wouldn't be recognised at all if a handful of their articles hadn't 
been lucky enough to break the language barrier."

16. "Because of the language barriers and the scarce international 
visibility of most of the grassroots experiences, there is much mis-
understanding among development organisations, and even academic in-
stitutions, about the essence of participatory communication prac-
tices that are alive and well in developing nations."


17. "...participatory communication may not be defined easily because 
it cannot be considered a unified model of communication. The eager-
ness for labels and encapsulated definitions could only contribute to 
freeze a communication movement that is still shaping itself, and 
that may be more valuable precisely because of its variety and loose-

18. "Such a simple idea, involving the beneficiaries, didn't come im-
mediately to the minds of international donors and planners, and when 
it did they were not able to overcome certain obstacles. One of these 
has been the inertia of channeling cooperation mainly through govern-
ments that are often corrupted and insensitive to the needs of their 

19. "Cultural barriers, as well as attitudes of arrogance about 
knowledge and vertical practices, have not allowed donors, planners 
and governments to establish a dialogue with communities of benefici-

20. "Indigenous knowledge is at best perceived as an acceptable claim 
from communities, but rarely considered as one of the main components 
of development."

21. "Communication has been neglected for too long in development 
projects, and still is. Even when development organisations and staff 
realise today that beneficiaries have to be involved, they fail to 
under- stand that without communication there can be no long-term 
dialogue with communities."

22. "Too often communication was mistakenly conceived as propaganda 
or, in the best scenario, as information dissemination, but seldom 
seen as dialogue."


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23. "International donors and implementers, governments and NGOs, 
crave communication when the objective is to gain visibility. Conse-
quently they concentrate on the use of mass media or worse, bill-
boards, paid advertising in journals and ..."

24. "Massive campaigns through mass media, especially for health pro-
jects, proved difficult to sustain without permanent funding...since 
the inception, these projects were exogenous to the beneficiaries and 
too general to be culturally accepted in countries where cultural and 
ethnic diversity is high. [for example] Development organisations 
from the United States, that largely promoted the marketing of social 
goods, had to invest additional funds in self-promotion in order to 
get attention in developing countries."

25. "One very important obstacle for including participatory communi-
cation components in development projects is the donors' need for 
scale, which either paralyses cooperation or leads to gigantic and 
artificial projects that result in equally resounding failures....In 
a more reasonable framework for development, scale would have to do 
with linking communities with similar issues of concern and facili-
tating exchanges, instead of multiplying models that clash with cul-
ture and tradition."

26. "Surprisingly enough, the whole evaluation system seems totally 
outdated to deal with participatory development...there are important 
contradictions in the manner most evaluations are done today, and the 
main contradiction is that beneficiaries are cut off from the proc-
ess, seen only as objects of study and not subjects that can contrib-
ute to the evaluation process...[and]...evaluations are often done by 
experts with little knowledge about the cultural, political and so-
cial context, nor do they speak the language..."


The full text of Making Waves is online at: 


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

Send items for The Drum Beat to 
The Editor
Deborah Heimann

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