OneWorld South Asia (http://southasia.oneworld.net) recently organised a regional brainstorming on communication for development (C4D) in association with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) on April 14 and 15, 2004, New Delhi. The aim of the meeting, which had participants from Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, apart from India, was to look at communication for development in the context of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for development.
The aims of C4D
Participants unanimously agreed that communication for development should bring about a positive change in the lives of people. Communicators should be able to influence State policies on development and mainstream voices of the poor and the marginalised. People should also feel empowered enough to ask for their rights. Tarja Virtenen from UNESCO said, “For c4d to be successful, it should have a meaningful participation in decision making, in managing information and that it does not contribute to the digital divide. c4d communicators also need to sensitise policy makers and should recommend the inclusion of best practices in government plans.” Pakistani journalist, Muhammed Shehzad said mere communication will not impact development. Participants also debated on the expected beneficiaries of C4D. Kishor Pradhan from Panos South Asia mentioned that dalit organisations in Nepal have been provided their own licences for radio for better communication and voicing their opinions on matters close to the community.
Examples of C4D
The participants listed out successful as well as experimental c4d projects which are bringing about a positive change among the communities. Shahidul Alam from DRIK, Bangladesh gave the examples of two most interesting and inspiring projects in the country. He said, “Madarssas in the Sylhet district, which borders India, were persuaded by development organisations to impart computer classes as part of their education programmes. These classes have become so successful that children want to manage the programme and even children from the north eastern of India