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What is Development Communication?

Development communication is the integration of strategic communication in development projects.
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Strategic communication is a powerful tool that can improve the chances of success of development projects. It strives for behavior change not just information dissemination, education, or awareness-raising. While the latter are necessary ingredients of communication, they are not sufficient for getting people to change long-established practices or behaviors.      

All development requires some kind of behavior change on the part of stakeholders. Research shows that changing knowledge and attitudes does not necessarily translate into behavior change. In order to effect behaviorchange, it is necessary to understand why people do what they do and understand the barriers to change or adopting new practices. It is not enough to raise awareness of the "benefits", it is critical to understand peoples' barriers or the "costs" they perceive such a change would entail.

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Meaningful communication is about getting information out to particular audiences, listening to their feedback, and responding appropriately. Whether discussing a development project or broader economic reforms — from health, education or rural development to private sector development, financial reform or judicial reform — the idea is to build consensus through raising public understanding and generating well-informed dialogue among stakeholders.

Well-conceived, professionally implemented communication programs that are tied directly to reform efforts or development project objectives that bring understanding of local political, social and cultural realities to bear in the design of development programs can make the difference between a project's success and failure.


Page updated August, 2004

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