FAO-Knowledge and information for food security in Africa: from traditional media to the Internet

Recognition that just material input no good for real development; must inform, provide knowledge and skills, “help people exchange experiences, find common ground for decisions, and actively participate in and guide development activities.” Problem of digital divide—ICT no good if it doesn’t reach the people who need it (my thought). Radio, video, desktop publishing become powerful when they are within reach (budget and training-wise) of people. Recognition that traditional methods are sometimes still best—interpersonal communication, traditional media such as folk theater, puppetry, songs, dances, traditional art.

Traditional folk media effective for centuries, may have cultural credibility that new tech lacks, encodes traditional knowledge, can be effective for subtly introducing new development messages, not expensive, don’t rely on tech that breaks or increase dependence on outside sources, can be used live or in combo with new comm. Techs.
Requires “skill in crafting of development messages in the fabric of the media. It is best done in close collaboration between development workers and folk media artists and performers.”

Rural radio
Long history, wide reach, great popularity in many areas, inexpensive and allows easy creation of local content; takes into account local needs (as urban radio doesn’t); effective when produced with “audience participation in local languages and taking into account cultural traditions,” can be interactive (people listen and call in or form groups/listening clubs for discussion and debate), can be platform for democratic discussion (I thought about Haitian agronomist film), tool for cultural awareness and expression, consciousness-raising/public awareness, training; means to gather and preserve local information, opinion, culture. Decentralization, deregulation and rise of independent radio all help. (I’m thinking podcasting in US in response to lack of independent radio (except college stations))

Participatory video
Overcomes illiteracy barrier, allows standardized visual presentation and demo; compresses time and space (can show whole season in minutes or people from all over); much less expensive and technically complicated now; process more important than product—empowering tool, gives voice and face to local people

Global network; “first medium that allows every user to be a sender, receiver, narrowcaster and broadcaster,” allows rural communities to communicate, participate in decision-making, share info and coordinate activities, gain info and training

Idea that ICT can help “leapfrog” development perhaps too optimistic. Danger of digital divide is real. Telecentres in response (CCCs)—same idea as in Colle, community organization point not just receiving info. Again, not enough just to provide ICTs but must address local context and needs, local development, “focus on enhancing information and knowledge sharing both vertically and horizontally,” human resource development and organizational capacity building.

Mix of communication media is probably the best way to go (know your audience to know what will work best in what contexts and they need to talk back—don’t increase the divide) and above all, any communication must be a part of the development process and not an end in itself

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