August 22, 2011

Guidelines for Engagement of Swachchata Doot Under Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC)

PIB : Total Sanitation Campaign is a ‘community led’ and ‘people centred’ Program with a ‘demand driven’ approach. The focus is awareness creation and effective demand generation for sanitation facilities in individual households, schools, Anganwadis and the community as a whole to make a cleaner environment and better livelihood for rural population. Incentives are provided to the poorest of the poor households for construction and use of Individual toilets. The campaign has the objective of universal sanitation coverage by covering all rural households, rural schools and anganwadis with suitable sanitation facilities. It also provides for construction of Community Sanitary Complexes (CSCs) to cover landless households, floating population, others visiting public places etc. so as to provide complete sanitation coverage in the rural areas.TSC is implemented in a demand driven project mode and is implemented through an intensive location specific intensive campaign with the help of Panchayati Raj Institutions, Co-operatives, Women Groups, Self Help Groups, NGOs, schools, etc. to bring the relevant behavioural changes for improved sanitation and hygiene practices and meet their sanitary requirements in an affordable and accessible manner.

The TSC guidelines lay emphasis on community and culture specific plans to achieve cent per cent sanitation coverage. It provides for engagement of motivators at the village level for demand creation and taking up behaviour change communication. The motivator can be provided with suitable incentive from the funds earmarked for IEC. The block Panchayats and Gram Panchayats can be provided with funds from IEC for execution of such works. Interpersonal communication and door to door to door contact are recognised as the most significant tools for attaining the program goals. In order to strengthen communication machinery at the village level with participatory social mobilization, engagement of village level motivators (Swachchhata Doot / Sanitation Messengers) may be undertaken by the States in accordance with these guidelines.

Objectives: The main objectives of engaging “Swachchhata Doot” for sanitation activism/mobilization are as follows:

(i) Provide a local person as consultant in the Gram Panchayats for sustainable TSC and to catalyse behavioural changes in individuals in respect of open defecation, hygiene, water safety, safe disposal of solid and liquid waste.

(ii) Develop a cadre of trained volunteer for working in sanitation, water and hygiene in village for sustainable sanitation and for making the villages ‘open defecation free”

(iii) Strengthen coordination amongst the rural households, community, members of Panchayat, Members of VWSCs, ASHA, Anganwadi workers, SHGs, Block and Cluster Coordinators.

(iv) To ensure sustained sanitation through awareness about quality control in construction and maintenance of sanitation facilities and developing a team of masons.

(v) To assist in generating awareness in schools and anganwadis for bringing out behavioural changes in school children and safe disposal of child excreta.

(vi) To facilitate social audit of TSC

(vii) Strengthen monitoring mechanism under TSC

Strategy: In order to fulfil the above objectives, engagement of Swachchhata Doot may be undertaken by the Drinking Water and Sanitation Mission (DWSM) in all the Gram Panchayats on the terms and conditions specified in these guidelines. The image of Swachchhata Doot is to be projected in the GP as a high profile key functionary and link between the GP and the CRC/BRC/DWSM. He should also be projected to be the key representative for sanitation in the GP for every beneficiary and their voice for reaching to relevant officials. This is necessary to create a high social value to the position of Swachchhata Doot attracting people with good social relations and other public figures to come up for seeking the position.

The position of Swachchhata Doot shall be an honorary position with high visibility with motive of social service than a post of profit. The message has to be clearly spread in the GP
during the selection process.

Once on rolls, the Swachchhata Doot has to be provided with adequate training and skills for undertaking works expected from him. He has to be given due importance in various functions, meetings and gatherings. He is to be kept informed of the program details, strategy and the latest developments under the programme with all related issues. He has to be allowed access for communication to all the beneficiaries in the GP and the functionaries at all levels including the elected representatives, the District Collector and CEOs of District

Provision of awards for exemplary work done by the Swachchhata Doot will be made at District and State level to be distributed on special occasions like Republic Day, Independence Day, Gandhi Jayanti, International/National/State Sanitation Day, or during sanitation, health and education related special events. The states may also introduce suitable awards with citation for “Swachchhata Doots” for making a village “open defecation free”, on being awarded NGP.

Procedure For Engagement Of Swachchhata Doot: Gram Panchayat with a population of less than 2000 will have at least ONE Swachchhata Doot and the GPs with more than 2000 people will have minimum TWO Swachchhata Doots. Preference should be given to Female candidates. In GPs with two or more Swachchhata Doots, at least one should essentially be a female. However, the numbers are not fixed and districts will have the flexibility to select appropriate Swachchhata Doot as per their needs.

The designation may be suitably customized in non-Hindi speaking States in respective regional language, with meaning/focus remaining unaltered.

The Swachchhata Doot will be issued an identity card and a suitable kit that may include stationary such as pen, diary, register etc as required, with Caps and Shirts with TSC logo and suitable design through IEC funds.

Qualifications for engagement as Swachchhata Doot
 - The individual must be a resident of the GP in which he is being engaged.
- Must have access to toilet and should not be practicing Open Defecation
- Should possess good command over local language/dialect

In addition, the individual should have good communication skill, should hold a good reputation in the GP, should be apolitical, should possess leadership quality and community mobilization skills.

Engagement of Swachchhata Doots:

(i)   Swachchhata Doots can be engaged by Gram Panchayat with the approval of Gram Sabha.

(ii) Apart from the above, District Collector / Chief Executive Officer of the District may also nominate eminent persons of repute as Swachchhata Doots of identified Gram Panchayats.

(iii) The engagement can be cancelled by either side (candidate or GP).


(i) To create awareness in community towards safe sanitation by personal household contact, organizing meetings and events like (a) Social mapping (b) defecation mapping with defecation mobility (c) Walk of shame (transact walk to open defecation areas) (d) Changes and trend of village water sanitation situation (f) information Possession of toilets by different groups (g) Excreta calculation (amount of excreta added to village by open defecation) (h) Contamination mapping (pollution caused by excreta and faecal-oral contamination links) etc.

(ii) Collection of habitation-wise detailed information of each HHs of the village, with details regarding APL/BPL/disability status, caste, age, sex, qualification, profession etc. of each members of HHs, availability of toilet and use by members, quality of toilets, open defecation by members of family, way of disposal of child excreta, use of filter, if any, use of soap for hand washing before eating and after defecation, Incidence of water borne disease, the method of disposal of waste, method of handling water from source, lifting water from container, storage etc.

(iii) Coordination with GP/BRC/Block in formation of VWSC, if not formed and providing guidance for annual village plan, weekly meeting of VWSC on a fixed day, on sanitation and drive on community led sanitation by VWSC .

(iv) Monthly meeting of Gram Sabha (Sanitation Day) every month to evaluate the status of sanitation, hygiene, safe drinking water, disposal of solid and liquid waste etc.

(v) To visit School and the Anganwadi at regular intervals for discussion on cleanliness, maintenance and use of toilets, pursue introduction of discussion after prayer meeting about the need for installation of toilets and use, safe disposal of child excreta in toilets, hand washing at critical times and introducing “Child Cabinet”. Coordinate with schools for competitions (poster, essay, quiz, play, music on the theme of sanitation, hygiene etc.) among students during special campaign like “Yearly Sanitation Week/ Fortnight”.

(vi) Mobilizing schools for Health Walk, Rally in the village, Focussed Group Discussions and door-to-door drive by students

(vii) Coordinate with SHGs, peruse for fixing a day every fortnight for discussion on Sanitation, Hygiene and Water, motivate for offering loans to members for installation of IHHLs, purchase of water filters etc. and persuading them to meet women members of HHs for constructing IHHLs, using and maintaining, disposing child excreta in toilets, safe handling of water etc.

(viii) Interacting with ASHA and Anganwadi workers for disseminating messages on sanitation, safe handling of water, disposal of child excreta, hand washing, cleanliness etc. while they visit HHs.

(ix) Co-ordinate, display and use of reminder media (e.g. wall paintings, wall writings, Posters, Tin Plates etc.) on issues of sanitation, hygiene and safe drinking water in each of the habitations of the village and in schools, Anganwadis and important places of the village.

(x) Coordinate capacity building of masons for construction of quality IHHLs etc.

(xi) To encourage Households (HHs) to go for construction of IHHL themselves by engaging masons, as per recommended specification and get incentive (if BPL or physically handicapped), so that they can have toilet as per their choice and ensure standards and sustainability.


Immediately after engagement as Swachchhata Doot, induction training will be conducted for 5 days preferably in the Block or District level or as decided by DWSM. Out of 5 days, 2 days will be devoted in field.


Monitoring of the performance of Swachchhata Doot should be incorporated in the system of program monitoring in respect of Gram Panchayats as per the following criteria:.

(i) No. of HHs visited and surveyed
(ii) No. of HHs not having IHHLs visited and perused amongst APL, BPL, Physically disabled, SCs, STs.
(iii) No. of HHs motivated to install IHHLs amongst APL, BPL, SCs, STs, Physically Handicapped
(iv) No of FDGs organized & number of persons involved
(v) VWSC meetings organized on sanitation ,hygiene and drinking water
(vi) Community meetings organized in coordination with VWSC
(vii) No .of times schools visited
(viii) No. of times Anganwadi visited
(ix) Demand available in hand with RSM and supply ensured in the period

The initiative would provide much needed impetus to the goals of total sanitation in the rural areas across the country.     

December 04, 2010

Teaching English through Radio

Times of India, PATNA: Speaking English was once like a dream for the underprivileged children in the state. Their dream has now become a reality. Bangalore-based NGO, Education Development Centre (EDC), the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and Bihar Education Project (BEP) in collaboration with All India Radio have started an interactive radio programme `English is fun'.

As a result of this initiative, children's ability to speak English has increased substantially in the last four years amongst the students of elementary level. As a pilot project, it was introduced in class I and II as level-1 on November 20, 2007. Later, it was introduced in class III and IV also as level-2 on October 26, 2009.

The figures given by BEP shows the programme's success. Previously, the understanding of English was just 33.3% at level-1 and 39% at level-2. Post-programme, the figures rose to 63.1% and 64.8%, respectively.

Not only this, post-programme the ability to speak English at level-1 has risen from 11% to 37.9% and 14.5% to 41.3% at level-II. This programme is presently being broadcast in 70,000 primary and middle government schools across 37 districts of the state. Its broadcasting units are located in four districts- Patna, Darbhanga, Bhagalpur and Purnia. Out of the total of 1.3 crore children benefiting from this programme, 77.73 lakh are from level-I and 53.72 lakh from level-II.

The specially trained teachers, who teach along with the radio broadcasting, use different means like songs, grammar, shapes, names of various objects, colours, weeks etc. These lessons are aired by AIR in a 30-minute capsule four days a week. For Level-I this programme is broadcast at 12.30 pm and for level-II at 1 pm. Sunita Singh, state coordinator, EDC, Bihar told TOI that a package of 122 episodes of the interactive radio instruction programme has been prepared for level-1 and 80 episodes for level-2.

"The total cost of the programme is Rs 8.84 crore. USAID has funded the technology tools for teaching and training programmers and EDC is providing the package of this programme free of cost," said Ashok Tiwari, State resource person, BEP. He added, "We are trying to make students learn the language in an interesting way."

English teaching programme through interactive radio developed by EDC is running in eight states of the country - Bihar, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Delhi, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. After witnessing its success, EDC has now prepared similar packages for mathematics and social science also.

March 10, 2008

Building schools with colour

Express India

On most evenings, architect couple Kabir and Preeti Vajpayi of Vinyas take a break from their flourishing business to track the progress of an impossible dream that’s suddenly grown wings. The Vajpayis are creators of a concept called Building as Learning Aid (Bala) that has a simple target—to make drab government schools the stuff of every child’s dreams.

“There is nothing more boring for an imaginative child than going to a school that is a block of grey concrete. Children learn best through games and interactive experiences,” says Kabir, 39. The Bala concept is currently revolutionising education in states like Gujarat, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir. In Delhi, the couple has worked on the Sangli Mess NP School near India Gate and the Mandir Marg Navyug School and is currently working on two more city schools.

“In one government school on the outskirts of the Gir forests in Gujarat, students have to be bribed to go home after classes. Absenteeism is down and the playgrounds are teeming from early morning,” he adds.

The Bala concept uses simple but effective methods—the classroom walls have green board running along the walls for students to scribble, the window grills have interesting curves, unlike the steel rods in most places, and the stained glass windows are patterned with maps that come alive in different colours when the sun’s rays fall of them. The playgrounds are embossed with board games and rulers. “Children often improvise jump games. With rulers marked on the playground concrete, children can measure who jumped further and by how much to the exact decimal. This way they learn numbers and decimals without even realising it,” laughs Preeti, 38.

Most of these innovations emerged 10 years ago when the couple was working on a project called Lok Jumbish to renovate 60 schools in Rajasthan. “By the end of 20 schools, we were bored of repairing the cracks and concrete. So, on our next school we painted a wall in bright colours and engraved it with alphabets. Not only the children but their teachers also loved it. Children gathered near the wall during interval and took turns to run their fingers on the alphabets,” says Preeti.

After Lok Jumbish ended, the couple initiated a research into the ways to enhance the educational value of buildings in 2000. “We were architects and knew nothing about child psychology or educational techniques. But, we realised a need for an interdisciplinary study into the issue,” says Kabir.

The study, initially supported by Unicef, stretched to two years and involved over 150 educationists, toy makers, students, architects and other experts. The result was 150 ideas, which today, form the foundation of the Bala concept.

But, the acid test was convincing the government to introduce Bala in schools. “The red tape nearly choked the project. We got used to making presentations, chief ministers and education secretaries gushing over it, making huge promises and then nothing happening. Our report gathered dust for close to two years,” says Kabir.

The turning point came in January 2005 during yet another meeting, this time of the education secretaries of states that had introduced the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan.

“We had a 20 minute slot in the morning, but there were so many questions that we finally talked for an hour and a half. By lunch, six states had decided to implement Bala in government schools. One education secretary even announced that he would not sanction any schools that did not include Bala methods,” says Kabir.

The Vajpayis are now looking at another ignored sector. Preeti, who graduated in architecture from Bhopal in 1991 along with Kabir, is now pursuing her PhD in moulding Bala for children with special needs. “Another dream, another struggle,” she adds. And another success story, we hope.

Ghana: Let's Focus On "Development Communication"

Hannah Asomaning

People understand the word development in different ways. While some people would term availability of pleasant goodies and services to enjoy on daily basis as progress and development, others may think that the availability of more physical infrastructure in a particular country is development.

In other words development could also mean that a country has very good roads, 24-hour supply of electricity and water, discovery of oil culminating in a comfortable livelihood.

Yet others may see development as absence of corruption in a country where there is good governance and democracy.

Whatever one's understanding of development is, be it from the opposition party or a ruling party, the general aspiration is to develop the country.

It may not be totally wrong then to say that every politician, no matter the political party he or she belongs to, prioritizes development on his or her agenda, especially when seeking to be elected.

Journalists have been defined as agents of social change and promoters of public forums in which it is possible to discuss issues considered beneficial to the wider public.

The media in any given country, thus, obviously has a role to play in the achievement of the development agenda. Unfortunately, sometimes the media in Ghana would rather focus more on what politician A or B has said rather than writing on developmental issues like malaria, guinea worm or poverty.

A research report by the Centre for Media Studies Research and Networking in Dar Es Salaam, on the topic; "Rural Reporting" in Tanzania states that the journalist's job on a development newsbeat is to critically examine, evaluate and report the relevance of a development project to national and local needs, the difference between a planned scheme and its actual implementation, and the difference between its impact on people as claimed by government officials and as it actually is.

A journalist will need to find how national, social and economic policies and political decisions affect women and men, and who are rendered more vulnerable by these decision making processes and policy implementation and if they address both strategic and practical needs/interests of both men and women.

Let us consider this situation. Some people were travelling from Tamale, the Northern Region capital to Techiman in the Brong Ahafo Region on a Metro Mass Transit (MMT) bus. When they got to a certain village, a barrier had been mounted and people from the Wildlife Division came to inspect the bus.

One of the officials opened all the sacks of passengers packed in the boot of the bus and found in one passenger's sack roasted bush meat. He took all the meat with an cynical smile. The woman followed him to a room perhaps to beg him. Finally he gave the meat back to the woman perhaps after taking a bribe. One passenger said aloud: "If you want to protect wildlife why not do it in the forest where people go to hunt these animals."

Another scenario: The fare from Techiman to Kumasi in the Ashanti Region on the Metro Mass Bus is GHc2. However in the evenings some of the drivers would charge double the fare and would not issue a receipt to any passenger no matter the number of people on board.

When a passenger decides to demand a receipt for the fare, people in the bus would shout: "We are in a hurry, what is GHc 2, if you can't pay get down." One is thus forced to be silent in the full glare of corruption.

Can one dare to ask: "What does the media in this country do or say about these situations and many more?"

Some likely answers would be "It will not be interesting to the public"; "Our newspapers would not be bought", "These are not 'hot' issues".

People would want to read about a politician who has raped a 13 year-old girl or some big money that has been embezzled by a Minister. Yes, that is news but why don't we nib such actions in the bud?

How different is a politicians who embezzled money from the MMT bus driver who charges one person double fare?

To discuss the agenda setting role of the media would start a whole new debate but why not get more interested in reporting on issues that impede the development that we all yearn for as a nation.

The media has really done well in how far we have brought the country, especially in terms of political dynamics but a lot more remains to be done.

Many have argued that the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015 is quite impossible looking at the state of most African states.

As an Indian media expert, Aman Namra will put it: "Media has no positive thinking and makes no effort to give the society a new direction. Nor does it underline the successes of the society... If media doesn't define and perform its role and social responsibility, it will have to face people's questions and ire in the future. It will lose its credibility as the Fourth Estate, the vigilant eye of society.

Development journalism...focuses on the needs of the poor, the deprived, the marginalized and emphasizes their effective participation in development planning. Or to say it elaborately, this kind of journalism motivates the active participation of the affected people and advocating for their interests, in place of the views of the policy makers and the planners."

The media has a role to play in the achievement of the MDGs if only we would decide to focus on development communication.

The clarion call for journalists, especially in Africa and other developing countries, now, is turning to development journalism.

February 29, 2008

Digital Photography: A powerful communication tool

anil gulati

It is difficult to visualise a world without photography. Courtesy a lifeless piece called camera, photography has proved its worth even in such diverse fields as astronomy and medical diagnosis. How indispensable is photography in the present-day world?

AUGUST 19, was the day when the first photograph came out. It was announced by Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre in the year 1839, when two processes, namely optical and chemical, were used to bring out a real photograph. According to Robert Leggat’s book ‘A history of Photography’, the word "photography”, was first used by Sir John Herschel in 1839, the year when the photographic process arrived in the public domain. The word is derived from the Greek words for light and writing, i.e. photo indicating "light," and graph indicating "drawing." And photography stands for “drawing with light". Ever since the photograph came into being, this mode of expression has under-gone a dramatic change.

Photographic films were pioneered by George Eastman in 1888 when he used his first camera, which he called Kodak. From there, the graduation to 35 mm, colour films, and now the digi medium is a credit to the evolving technology. This powerful means of communication has become a mode of visual expression that has invaded our lives.

Today photography is not only about crystallizing memories or events; it is a profession; it’s fun; it is used for exchanging ideas (and of course MMS!) and what not. MMS is the abbreviation for Multi-media Messaging Service, a system for sending colour pictures and sounds as well as short written messages from one mobile phone / cell phone to another. According to a research, the amount of digital information created last year is equal to three million times the amount of information in all the books ever written. 161 exabytes of digital information were created and copied last year. An exabyte is one quintal bytes or a billion giga-bytes. If one puts this information in terms of written material it will be equal to 12 stacks of books, each extending to 93 million miles between the earth and the sun. If we proceed at the same pace, in the year 2010 it will be 988 exabytes. Lot of that is in the form of digital images.

Interestingly, all these expressions come to life, courtesy a lifeless piece called camera. Today, with the advent of digital medium we have many ways to under-take the same activity - be it a digital camera, video camera, mobile camera or web camera, one has many options. With the expansion of the web, a new dimension has been added to digital photography. Not only are photographs used by the media, to convey news, information; or by Hollywood / Bollywood to portray one’s personality; they are also used in astronomy and medical diagnosis. In fact if one wants to write on its use, it will warrant a separate compendium. A simpler way to realise its usefulness is to think of a world without photographs.

But it has its negatives too - photographs can be used for many unwanted purposes, like swaying opinions, etc. Lovers of photography feel that with the advent of digital technology, the opportunity to derive satisfaction by producing a piece of art has been denied to the photographer and it has even impacted ethics in photography. But, on the other hand, it has given rise to a new breed of photographers who have taken this up as a hobby.

January 25, 2008

Indian Info-trains are the social communicators

Communication through trains is not new to India. We had ‘exhibition on wheels’ earlier too, but last year saw three trains around similar periods. All were on social issues. These 'Info-trains' do have their own distinct advantage in reaching out.

LAST QUARTER of the year 2007 saw three ’info-trains’, i.e. mobile train exhibitions being used to reaching out to people of India with information and education on various social themes. ’Azadi Express’, which was to commemorate 150 years of the 1857 war, 60 years of independence, and the birth centenary of Shaheed Bhagat Singh. The special train had 11 coaches, which had displays on the major incidents in the making of India since the first war of independence. The same train is traversing to about 70 destinations across India. It is the way to communicate on the experience of the spirit of freedom movement in India through visual medium, to its people.

’Science Express’, another 13-bogie train exhibition that is traversing across 57 cities in India to showcases various research accomplishments made in the field of science and technology. This exhibition is offering information on the issues like spaceships, cosmos, big bang theory and black hole, besides topics like galaxies, biotechnology and renewable energy sources and computer application in medicine. It is an initiative of Vikram A Sarabhai Community Science Centre in collaboration with the department of Science and Technology and ministry of Indian Railways.

’Red Ribbon Express’, a third train exhibition, aims to spread awareness about HIV/ AIDS in the country, which is an initiative of National AIDS Control Organisation. It is an eight-coach train with varieties of multimedia and interactive displays, which aims to provide information and answers to many queries on the issue. It also has cycle troupes traveling on board, which will mobilise people and spread information in 25-kilometre radius around the railway station where this train halts. State AIDS control societies supporting mobilisation of people and are providing counselors at the stations to help discussion sessions on the issue like HIV/AIDS.

Communication through trains is not new to India. We had ’exhibition on wheels’ earlier too, but last year saw three trains around similar periods. All were on social issues. These ’Info-trains’ do have their own distinct advantage in reaching out with information to people, though the mode of communication is different. Its uniqueness of being on train brings in newness and creates interest of the people. A ’vehicle to transport people’ becomes ’carrier of knowledge’, which is an experiment worth to watch. It is this uniqueness, which also brings in the added challenge of communication, as people have to visit railway station and enter the train to see the displays in the compartments of the train. Here the role of media gains quite a bit of importance in mobilising people to visit the train. Then the hyped curiosity levels bring many to visit the same.

Innovations used in displays in the train will and do matter; it not only reinforces the message, but also helps in retaining the attention. Azadi Express and Red Ribbon Express, the ones that I saw, had activities on the platform of the railway station to add more attraction to the visitors? There are a lot of ground activities by various departments of the State, which these trains visit to help in getting people especially youngsters. Youngsters are the ones, who are the prime target group for all these trains. But a word of caution to increase the numbers of such kind of trains will be looked into how to retain that curiosity and pull the people towards these trains. Keeping them one or two in number every year with adding innovations will retain this newness but the clutter of similar ones will have impact on the interest. All these trains are an expensive proposition and a balance will also need to be drawn.

Anil Gulati

(All views expressed in this piece are the personal opinions of the writer.)

November 09, 2007

Nepali radio programme wins Global Junior Challenge award

KATHMANDU, Nov 8 - A youth-based radio programme, Sathi Sanga Manaka Kura (Chatting With My Best Friend), developed through a partnership between the UNICEF Nepal and Equal Access Nepal has won Global Junior Challenge (GJC) for the use of new technologies for the education and training of youngsters.

The GJC in its website identifies itself as an initiative of the Municipality of Rome, conceived and implemented by the Digital World Foundation. According to the GJC, the intention of the award, now in its fourth edition, is to identify and reward best innovative practices in the use of information and communication technologies for education, solidarity and international collaboration in the path towards a more e-inclusive knowledge society.

The Sathi Sanga Manaka Kura (SSMK) was awarded the GJC in the “up to 29 years old” category out of a total of 102 projects chosen from the total of 600 projects from 80 countries that had applied for the category.

In a function organized in the capital today, Digital Broadcast initiative, Equal Access, which produces the SSMK, highlighted the various aspects and contribution of the seven-year old programme that raises issues of younger generation.

“The programme provides information on HIV and AIDS, life-skills and also covers other youth-related issues from employment, sexual and reproductive health to conflict management” the SSMK member Devendra Lal Shrestha ‘Sushil’ said while reading the press statement issued by the SSMK.

The SSMK informed that it had over six million listeners and around a thousand listeners’ clubs across the country.Italian president Giorgio Napolitano felicitated the SSMK representatives during an award ceremony at the Campidoglio City Hall in Rome.The SSMK also received Euro 25,000 in cash prize.

source -

October 20, 2007

Wash your hands and keep viruses away...

London - Hand-washing with just soap and water is a simple and effective way to stunt the spread of respiratory viruses, from everyday cold viruses to deadly pandemic strains, researchers said on Wednesday.

Keeping hands clean is also particularly important for protecting children and to reduce the chances they could pass viruses to other family members, the researchers said.

Writing in the Cochrane Library journal, Tom Jefferson of the Rome-based Cochrane Collaboration and colleagues said they analysed 51 different clinical studies.

The findings underscore recommendations from the World Health Organisation and the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention about the benefits of hand washing to limit transmission of viruses.

"Respiratory virus spread might be prevented by hygienic measures around younger children," the researchers wrote. "These might also reduce transmission from children to other household members."

Respiratory viruses usually only cause minor disease but they can spark epidemics, the researchers said. About 10 percent to 15 percent of people worldwide contract flu each year, a figure that spikes during epidemics.

Experts agree that the world is overdue for a pandemic - a global epidemic - of influenza.

There were three such pandemics in the last century, including the 1918 "Spanish flu" in which anywhere from 50 million to 100 million people died, and milder ones in 1957-58 and 1968.

Researchers cannot say which strain will strike next but the H5N1 avian flu virus now hitting flocks of birds across Asia, Africa and parts of Europe is the main suspect. Globally the H5N1 virus has killed 202 people out of 331 known cases, according to the World Health Organisation.

In their review, the multinational team said simple face masks and gloves and isolating people known to be infected are also effective ways to contain respiratory viruses.

It was also unclear whether adding chemicals that kill bacteria and viruses to soap made it any more effective at preventing transmission than normal soap, the researchers said.

September 30, 2007

Child-friendly communities undertake communication planning

San Jose, Antique Seven recipient barangays of the 6th Country Program for Children here recently attended Communication Planning Workshop towards behavior change with the goal of reducing disparity of child-friendly indicators, said Eric Otayde, Provincial Information Officer.

Among the issues and problems identified during the activity which required community mobilization to achieve the goal were malnutrition, high drop out rate, low achievement rate, low level of awareness of the importance of good health among parents and caregivers, limited source of income and poor health and sanitation practices.

Participants to the workshop were child-rights duty-bearers who include members of the local council for children, parents, community leaders and child-rights holders who are mothers and children themselves.

The CPC covered barangays are Bacalan, Sebaste; Igpanulong, Sibalom; Dalipe, San Jose; Tubog-Lapaz, Hamtic; Camancijan, Culasi and Pandanan, Valderrama. These barangays were identified by the child friendly movement team with big disparities in child-friendly indicators particularly on health and survival, protection, development and participation rights of children.

During the training the participants listed specific issues in their respective areas and identified key persons/audience as target of information dissemination and advocacy in order to come up with the desired behavior. Effective communication channel identified to suit a special audience. Most participants preferred interpersonal communications and printed materials as their channels of communication.

Communication plans of barangays will be included in the 2008 Work and Financial Plans as component of the CPC 6 to justify the availment of financial and technical assistance from UNICEF.

Otayde urged barangay and municipal councils for the protection of children to support these communication plans to help achieve the vision of the barangay of becoming child -friendly by reducing disparity indicators through community mobilization

September 10, 2007

Manual to help fight AIDS - India

Rural illiterate women who migrate to cities are greatly vulnerable to diseases like Aids because of their status and inability to negotiate safe sex.

When Venkatamma, 17, was abandoned by her husband, she had no option but to work to support herself and her newborn daughter. Being poor, young and single, she was an easy target for pimps. However, despite being forced to have sexual relations with several men at the construction site in Hyderabad where she worked, Venkatamma did not raise her voice for fear of losing her job.

However, when she started keeping unwell, Venkatamma went to the doctor, who told her that she was HIV+. Although stunned and confused, Venkatamma hoped her family would support her. But there, too, she was in for a huge disappointment. Instead of helping her to come to terms with the news, her brother threw her out of the house and even stopped her from meeting her daughter.

If this story sounds familiar, it is because there are many women like Venkatamma who, due to their low status and inability to negotiate safe sex, are vulnerable to contracting HIV. According to the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), 39 per cent of the total number of people living with HIV are women and the numbers are only rising. But what is really worrisome is that a majority of them, particularly, rural married women, lack access to appropriate communication material on HIV and AIDS and that has greatly impeded prevention and treatment efforts.

With the intention of equipping low-literate and neo-literate rural women with the right information, the Population Council has developed a training manual on women's vulnerabilities to the infection. 'Our Stories: Women Speak Out Against HIV', an interactive and visually attractive training manual, which was introduced in April this year and has already reached out to over 4,000 women. It has been designed by Vikalpdesign, a development communications design agency.

According to Vijaya Nidadavolu, who headed the communications project for the Population Council, the existing literature tends to overlook women who have no reading skills.

"This manual is aimed at rural married women in the age group of 15 to 35 years. We did not want to focus specifically on their economic background. Our main concern was that some material be made for rural pockets where other media on HIV seem to have penetrated very minimally," said Nidadavolu.

This is perhaps the first time a manual on a sensitive subject like HIV and AIDS has been based entirely on inputs and drawings by rural women in Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, the states chosen for the project. They were chosen because of their differences in HIV prevalence rate. In Andhra Pradesh, where prevalence rates are high, the Council collaborated with the Andhra Pradesh Mahila Samantha Society (APMSS) in Mahaboobnagar and Karimnagar. In West Bengal, where the prevalence rate is on the rise, it partnered Child In Need Institute (CINI) in Murshidabad and South 24 Parganas.

Simple and specific

Simple to understand, the manual has colour-coded specific aspects, like vulnerability of women, routes of transmission, HIV testing, prevention methods and need for support to HIV+ people, of the four stories published. It also has some pullouts that provide a three-dimensional effect, which keep the readers engaged.

Interestingly, the manual was developed after several rounds of discussions with the target audience. All the stories are based on real-life incidents of women who had never even heard of the virus until it entered their homes. In fact, according to Vijaya Usha Rani of APMSS, women have been able to relate to the stories because they have either seen or heard of similar incidents.

For example, Mangamma's story touched many a women belonging to areas populated by truckers. Happily married with three children, Mangamma, 27, found that she and her trucker husband were HIV+ when they fell ill, a few months after her husband was given blood following an accident. Ignorance about the infection and its modes of transmission led Mangamma's husband to suspect her of being unfaithful.

When he resorted to violence, other villagers supported him. It was only when the local ANM came visiting that she was able to give him the correct information.

However, says Moumita Saha of CINI, the stories were chosen not only because they were women's own stories but because they addressed the low risk perception women in the two states had about themselves vis-à-vis domestic violence, migration and ability to negotiate safe sex.

Discussions also revealed that although women living in districts closer to urban areas had higher exposure to HIV messages, in general, knowledge regarding the virus was low and misconceptions high.

While the stories emphasise how lack of information exacerbates women's vulnerability leading to abandonment and domestic violence, it also narrates how women have faced the challenges head-on.

Women’s Feature Service

August 28, 2007

Communication challenge is to convert information to 'knowledge to action'

‘Knowledge and information are central to democracy and are essential for people to successfully respond to the opportunities and challenges of social, economic and technological changes. But to be useful, knowledge and information must be effectively communicated to people.’ Probably a statement which brings lays importance to the context of development communication. But the issue of discussion here is that we have to not only ensure that the information is disseminated, people are engaged in dialogue, and the information gets converted into knowledge, which is a complex process, not easy but more importantly it is to transform the same towards social action. Converting the information to knowledge and that to action is a major challenge of today’s communication efforts. This is a complex process and needs that enabling environment which complements the change to happen.

There is lot of talk on need to increase awareness or promote behaviours, but then what? Even if one has access to information and is motivated to adapt that positive behavior, but does the environment permits that change or much needed services provide that back up.

‘Involving people and Evolving Behaviour, a book on the issue interestingly points this out clearly and states that ‘All the people wanting to make changes in their lives face the resistance of their family, peers and community. Health services are often inadequate for their needs or insensitive to their situation. The education system often fails them. They may also face religious, cultural, economic, or social pressures or a lack of structural and legislative support-that constrain their freedom to choose healthy and safe options.’ The book further adds that the programmes can gain far greater impact by building on existing cultural, social and other factors which support safe and healthy choices, for example, in discouraging the use of tobacco or alcohol. When we talk of communication we therefore need to think in much broader terms, beyond the individual whose behaviour we are concerned about. Be it immunization, girl’s education, promoting positive practices of hand washing, breastfeeding, or talking about HIV/AIDS. We have to do much more than develop individuals, knowledge, motivation and skills to be effective. The need is to focus on creating a supportive and enabling environment for these individuals. All communication talks and efforts need to build on those aspects of the environment which are supportive to positive behaviour and minimize or change those which are negative or resistant.’

August 27, 2007

Asia, the leading driver of global media market

As per the latest WAN report, the newspaper circulation in Asia is up by 3.61per cent over the previous year. Besides India, sales are found escalating in China, Malaysia, Singapore, Bangladesh and Korea, and down in Taiwan and Japan.

WORLD ASSOCIATION OF Newspaper (WAN) released its annual survey of world press trends to more than 1,600 publishers, editors and other senior newspaper executives, who came from 109 countries to attend the 60th World Newspaper Congress and the 14th World Editors’ Forum in Cape Town recently.

As per the report average readership has been estimated to be more than 1.4 billion people each day. More than 515 million people buy a newspaper everyday, up from 488 million readers recorded in 2002.

The number of people buying newspaper remains slightly higher than the Internet users. In 2007 alone the global number of Internet users is expected to rise from 1.13 to 1.23 billion people. Besides that percentage rise in case of Internet users have been much higher than the newspaper readers. In 2002 there were only about 600 million Internet users.

Indian Asian News Service and Press Trust of India stated on the WAN report that worldwide the newspaper circulation rose 2.3 per cent in 2006 with Indian sales increased 12.93 per cent. An increase in the newspaper sale has been witnessed in almost all continents including Asia, Europe, Africa and South America except North America, which registered a decline in the sales.

Last year advertising revenues in paid dailies had been found up 3.77 per cent. China, Japan and India account for 60 of the world’s 100 best-selling dailies, while the five largest markets for newspapers are China, India, Japan, the US and Germany.

In Asia, circulation is up by 3.61 per cent over the previous year. Besides India sales are found up in China, Malaysia, Singapore, Bangladesh and Korea, and down in Taiwan and Japan.

Interestingly not only newspapers even digi-media market in Asia is also catching up rapidly. Asia Digital Marketing Association (ADMA), the voice of the digital marketing industry in Asia, also released its 2007 Asia Pacific Digital Marketing Yearbook online. It is a vital source for marketers, advertisers, media buyers and anyone looking for leveraging the power of digital media in the region. The total number of broadband users and market penetration is the highest in APAC region. The region boasts the largest number of Internet users, surpassing the US and Europe. 36 per cent of the world’s online population now lives in Asia, and mobile penetration in this region is also higher than anywhere else in the world, with more Asian users accessing the Internet over their mobile phones than the entire US Internet population.

Asia is driving the digital marketing industry too. Merrill Lynch predicts that global online advertisement spend will reach US$14.5 billion in 2007. That represents an increase of 24 per cent from 2006 – and Asia will be the driving engine. In Asia the highest growth rate in 2007 is being predicted to come from China at 50 per cent, Australia at 42.6 per cent, South Korea at 30.5 per cent and Japan at 30 per cent.

August 26, 2007

LSACA takes HIV messaging to grassroots (Nigeria)

In effort to check the spread of HIV and AIDS in Lagos State, stakeholders at the grassroots level, last week gathered in Lagos to deliberate on more effective way to design HIV and AIDS messages that would directly impact on Nigerians in the local communities.

No fewer than 70 people participated in the Behaviour Change Communication Training workshop for community based organizations (CBOs) and public sector workers/workshop for development of posters, handbills and training manuals for use in Lagos State organized by the Ministry of Information and Strategy, Lagos State in collaboration with Lagos State AIDS Control Agency in Lagos from August 16 through 20.

Addressing participants, Head of Project at the Lagos State AIDS Control Agency (LSACA), Dr. Olusegun Ogboye explained that HIV & AIDS messages geared to check the spread of the virus which is currently in use had been designed by people who are not from the communities they were meant to serve, Hence, the misconception of the information in such posters, handbills, among others.

Ogboye said messages to check HIV transmission should be designed by the people for whom it is meant or with the contribution of the people for whom it is meant, ‘so that it will pass the message it is meant to disseminate.’ The current training is expected to expose participants to how to communicate effectively in the design of messages to HIV messages and consequently promote the adoption of positive behaviour among the people of the state.

He hinted that the objective of the workshop include to assist participants acquire the necessary skill, knowledge and confidence to carry out strategic communication campaign on HIV/AIDS in their communities and work places.

Reaching over the language barrier

JAMES CITY - Last September, a water main broke in James City County, possibly contaminating the water supply of 17,000 residents. For three days, locals were ordered to boil their tap water, or not use it at all.

That same week, Gloria Morales said she was alarmed to hear of Hispanic families using the water to cook, or mixing it with their babies' formula.They weren't intentionally violating the boil order, she said. They just didn't know.

"All the information available was only in English," she said.

Since then, Morales, coordinator of the nonprofit Network for Latino People, has been working with local authorities on an emergency preparedness plan for the Hispanic community in the Williamsburg area. The Hispanic population in Williamsburg, James City County and York County is estimated at about 3 percent of the total population, according to U.S. Census data.

While local emergency responders have been receptive to the plan, Morales said many didn't know how to reach non-English speakers, or realize that language could be an issue in a disaster situation.

"When we think of people with special needs, we think of people with disabilities, or even with pets," said Jan Tobias, a volunteer with Lutheran Disaster Response. "We don't necessarily think of people that are non-English speaking."

To help the Hispanic community be prepared, Morales has translated emergency information into Spanish, and placed Spanish-language brochures in places already familiar to the Hispanic community, such as the James City County Human Services Center.

Morales identified 12 apartment complexes in Williamsburg, James City County and York County with large concentrations of Hispanic residents, and found people in each who agreed to help notify their communities in the event of a disaster.

She's also worked with James City County District Fire Chief Bob Ryalls to ensure that future emergency notifications go out in English and Spanish on local public television and the county's Web site. Ryalls said two Spanish-language radio stations have also been added to the county's list of media contacts for emergency bulletins.

Next week, a version of this year's hurricane preparedness guide for James City County, York County and Williamsburg should be available in Spanish. "Having seen Dean go across the Caribbean, we want to make sure that's in the process of being distributed," Ryalls said. There have also been efforts to make language less of a barrier by ensuring interpreters and translators will be available in the event of a disaster. Network for Latino People launched a Community and Medical Interpretation Services program in July, which provides 15 trained bilingual English/Spanish interpreters for use by hospitals, law enforcement or community groups.

Local emergency personnel have also made the effort to become more familiar with Spanish. James City County police officers took a basic Spanish class for law enforcement, and carry cards with them that translate common phrases, police spokesman Mike Spearman said. James City County's fire department completed 16 hours of conversational Spanish training and are looking into further instruction at Thomas Nelson Community College, Ryalls said. A group of Williamsburg firefighters and medics are currently taking Spanish classes at Thomas Nelson, according to District Chief Jim Murphy.

"It's important to be able to converse with them in their own language," Ryalls said. "It's been very beneficial for our operational staff." Still, there have been obstacles. A workshop planned to educate the local Hispanic community about emergency resources was canceled this year when no one showed up. Morales said distrust and fears about immigration status keep many in the community from taking advantages of services. "That was part of my agenda, to explain, 'Don't be afraid,'" she said.

Ryalls said emergency information - in any language - is only as good as people's commitment to put it into practice. He said once organizations make the information available, it is up to citizens to get themselves and their families prepared. "We want to put the message out," he said. "We want them to know what to do in an emergency. Because we know the ability ... to respond to every call that comes in is going to be delayed."

August 19, 2007

Gambia: The Role of Targets-Based Development Communication in Rural Development

Suruwa B. Wawa Jaiteh
Published in The Daily Observer (Banjul)

This is a shallow basis for rural development, which is a prerequisite for sustainable poverty reduction and the attainment of the Vision 2020 goals.

The challenge then is to awaken an inner sense of commitment to self improvement as the basis for sustainable rural development. The task of participatory and persuasive communication is therefore to stimulate the rural beneficiaries to reflect upon their relationship to the larger society in that any improvement in their own lives and environment is thus an integral part of larger societal development. The rural population must recognize first their own worth as individual contributors to the upliftment of the masses. Their skills, talent and energies must be seen as crucial to rural development. They must know that their individual destinies are intricately bound to the destiny of not only the rural areas but of the nation. This feeling of self worth, of having something of value to develop, is perhaps the key to commitment, involvement and ultimately change in the rural areas. Again, these intangible factors which shape attitudes are elusive and sometimes abstract. These factors are deeply rooted in self concept and perception. The way an individual relates and reacts to this environment is determined and qualified by his perception of himself in relation to his society. African societies tend to provide a greater sense of security and belonging as compared to more individualistic societies. It is, therefore, an additional task of the adult educator to reverse the colonial mentality by redefining the Gambian personality from an indigenous base. These are very subtle but powerfull force in persuasive communication. The implications for development are boundless. The dignity of the common man must be reestablished and harnessed as a strategy for rural development. Aspects of traditional life in the rural areas that may be of value in extension education programme are traditional occupations such as farming, local medicine, carpentry, metal work, carving, pottery making, canoe making, fishing and numerous others. These occupations can in many ways serve the cause of rural development. In ignoring the value of such skills and the functions they serve within rural areas, the extension educator (persuasive communicator) unknowingly and inadvertently will diffuse the inherent value systems of the rural folk.

The integration of traditional and western technologies is an example of integrated approach. This raises the possibility of more positive attitude change through recognition and acceptance of (effective) local technologies combined with western technologies. Instead of persuading and convincing rural populations that all local remedies are useless, people may respond more through an approach, which alienates them less, involves them more and thus indirectly raises and improves food security consciousness and food security practices. Extension education should find ways to integrate other traditional occupations into the realm of development.

Two levels of change will emerge. First, the inner attitudinal changes expressed through involvement, participation, commitment and responsibility. And secondly, concrete achievement and improvement in the environment.

It is a mistake assumption to believe that only educational and technical skills are needed for development.


Communication - induced attitude change must successfully motivate people for positive action. Motivation is the process of arousing behaviour. It accounts for the purposiveness of behaviour. Each individual has urges and needs that move him or her to act and cope. Human behaviour is directed by unfulfilled drives, purposes or needs. Maslow (1962, 1970, 1971) postulated a hierarchy of basic human needs.

They can be classified under the following five headings: -

1. Physiological needs - basic human needs such as food, clothing and shelter.

2. Security - the need to be free of physical danger or the danger of being deprived of ways to meet the basic physiological needs.

3. Social (or affiliative) - the need to be accepted by other human beings, to belong and to have the approval of others.

4. Esteem - the need to be recognised by others through the granting of status, prestige and power.

5. Self-actualisation - the need to fulfill one's potential, or to do what one believes is important from his own point of view.

Physiological necessities are the primary order of need in the hierarchy. Only after the basic need has been met reasonably well does the next higher level of need develop enough to motivate the individual. Individuals are of course motivated by a number of needs and any-one may predominate at a given time.

There are at least two sets of variables at play in all production systems - input as well as the output situations. They comprise the internal conditions embodying the needs, purposes and perceptions of each producer (the farmer) and the external conditions of the environment. It is the goal of the frontline extension agent to analyse and target the internal needs of the producer in relation to those of the environment.

The needs and role perception of the producer must include his role as a citizen, a consumer and developer of resources and products and as a worker producing goods and services.

For rural populations, the fulfillment of physiological needs and security are the predominant sources of motivation. The crucial task of communication in this regard is to motivate people to better utilize their environmental resources to fulfill their needs. This is a complex process because it will mean motivation for production beyond a subsistence level and will require more participation and self reliance. Rural development is defined as improving living standards of the low income population residing in the rural areas and making the process of their development self sustaining. Once the individual is able to master his environment to supply his needs of food, clothing and shelter, he will begin to concentrate on satisfying higher order needs such as self-actualization. If an individual becomes more secure, he may begin to develop his activities and skills to benefit himself and his community. Communication for motivation, therefore, must trigger this chain of development. It is an internal mechanism that is unfortunately tenuous. In development parlance this is the only self-reliant strategy for farmer empowerment.

To tap human potential, motivation theories contend that opportunities must be provided for people to satisfy their higher needs through work, responsibility and self direction. Motivation for this purpose must be goal directed, essentially targets-based.

The general motivation theory that best defines this assumption is expectancy theory. Briefly, expectancy theory states that a person will perform some behaviour if that behaviour is likely to lead to some desired outcomes. The existence of desired outcomes translate into goal directed behaviour. Communication for motivational change must therefore operate from a set of shared desired outcomes (goals) in order to reach the target audience.

Relevant Goals for Rural Development

- Agricultural development.

- Improved living conditions.

- Preventive health care/practices.

- Income generating activities.

- Literacy.

- Development of Crafts/Skills.

- Child care.

- Cooperatives and many others.

Care must be taken to incorporate the fulfillment of both lower and higher needs. For, it is through the actualization of higher needs that rural development can be facilitated.

Persuasive Communication

The relationship or significance of persuasive communication to rural development should be clear. The concept of persuasive communication here is understood in terms of a unifying principle, the broad framework of which attitude change and motivation are a part. Strategies for persuasive communication must invariably develop or change behaviour by altering a disposition that controls it. The interaction of the variables which underlie processes of attitude change and motivational behaviour have provided the basis for effective persuasive communication. We can anticipate that strategies for changing attitudes focus on changing either the underlying belief or the value premise. Research in this area has revealed that the likelihood of attitude change depends on the following:-

- The properties of the attitudes that an individual brings to the situation.

- The broader characteristics of the transmission situation itself such as the properties of the persuasive message.

- The properties of the agent that transmits the message, or the source, and

- To a lesser extent, properties of the setting of social context in which transmission occurs.

Some types of persuasive messages are more effective than others in achieving attitude change. The basic appeals in a message (especially to values), and he organization or presentation of the argument as well as other aspects have been examined with a view to discovering the formal properties of elements that are most powerful in inducing change. From this field of inquiry, one major aspect of the persuasive message is recognized for its importance. This is the relationship between the content of the message and the motivational basis on which the attitude rests. This principle can be stated thus: 'the type of message that is likely to be most effective in inducing attitude must fit the attitude structure, being relevant to the motivational basis of the attitude, yet involving new novel arguments against which the individual has little counter information."

Community radio goes live in Rajasthan

Kalyan Singh Kothari

“This is community radio Aapno FM Radio Bansthali on 90.4 MHz live phone-in programme! Best wishes for empowerment and social change.” With these words, Cecillo Adorna, Country Representative UNICEF, recently inaugurated the ‘live’ project of Bansthali Vidhyapeeth and UNICEF at Bansthali, Niwai tehsil, in Tonk district of Rajasthan.

Community radio has been functioning on the university campus since January 2005, reaching 50 villages in and around Bansthali within a radius of 10-15 kilometres. The FM Radio Station that broadcasts for three hours daily has now been extended to six. The programmes focus on topics of education, health, environment, agriculture, rural and community development.

Local anchor Meenaxi Udawat and youth volunteer Ranglal Sainer of Chikana village and Nirmla of Badodiya village, trained in radio production, expressed their experiences at the inaugural session. “Our world has completely changed after coming here for training. Earlier we were afraid to even speak out in public but now we feel confident to express the sentiments and thoughts of our community,” they said.

Village youth volunteers (VYV) from Niwai block have been associated with community radio project since its inception. Around 100 VYVs were given training in how to assess community needs for audience preferences on radio programmes.

In this training workshop, they were exposed to basics of the medium, various programme formats, studio production and field research, how to write scripts, and presentation of interactive programmes – like interviews, discussion, anchoring, phone-ins, skits, dramas and music-based shows.

Sixty-four students of Bansthali Vidhyapeeth have also undergone training in production of radio programmes.

While launching the ‘Live phone-in-programme’ Adorna said that community radio is a truly participative communication tool that allows people to decide their information and entertainment needs in a way that is unique, exciting and empowering for them. It allows them to become “change agents and not merely the subjects of change.”

Hailing the community radio project as “an example of integrated behaviour change in communication programme” Adorna said that the objective was to demonstrate the potential of this new medium for bringing about behavioural change in the community using local language, idiom, culture and entertainment.

He also appreciated that the village volunteers, who emerged from the participatory process, were to be leaders of this project; thereby building their capacity and sustaining their interest in behaviour change communication.

The community radio project operational under the guidance of NGO partner CEDECS, is also a part of ‘Gram Shakti’ – the integrated Village Planning Project supported by UNICEF and the District Administration in Tonk district. Under Gram Shakti project, village planning exercises and follow-up of development plans have been completed in all of 1,044 villages of Tonk.

In Niwai block, where the community radio project is functional, village development plans have been completed in 191 villages – 50 of which fall in the vicinity of the community radio. In these villages, volunteers act as community links and facilitators for the radio listeners’ groups set up in the villages.

A survey was undertaken in these 50 villages in Niwai block to assess the radio listening habits of the audiences who tune in to Aapno Radio Bansthali. Over 3,000 households were contacted. Findings revealed that 60.5% of the people have access to radio and almost 78% of population comprised regular listeners.

While delivering the presidential address, Professor Diwakar Shastri, Chairman of Bansthali Vidhyapeeth said, “Community radio in India faces three constraints. First, their reach is quite limited as compared to other FM radios. Second, they cannot include any programme on news and current affairs in their repertoire. This limits their effectiveness. The last constraint is that they cannot air advertisements. While city-based FM radios are minting money, the agencies running community radios have to do with its own resources.”

Dr Satish Kumar, Rajasthan State UNICEF Representative added that evaluation of the impact of radio programme messages on audiences would be carried out during December 2007 - March 2008.

August 18, 2007

Programme to check rising dengue cases launched in Kuala Lumpur

The nation's capital has launched the Communication For Behavioural Impact (COMBI) programme aimed at increasing public awareness on the danger of dengue fever, said Federal Territories Minister Datuk Zulhasnan Rafique.

“COMBI is part of our one-year campaign against dengue in Kuala Lumpur which had the second-highest number of cases after Selangor. I am confident the COMBI programme will be effective in reducing dengue cases,” he said when launching the programme here today. Zulhasnan said Kuala Lumpur registered 125 dengue cases last week and this was not good for the tourism industry.

The COMBI programme, conducted by the Federal Territory Health Department and Kuala Lumpur City Hall, emphasised on preventive measures including random checks. COMBI was first introduced by the World Health Organisation (WHO) during the dengue outbreak in Johor Baru six years ago and was proven to be effective. Currently, about 1,000 dengue fever cases are reported weekly nationwide, with some involving deaths.

Ref- The New Straits Times

'Use Of ORS' In Diarrhoea needs a push in Madhya Pradesh, India

Sharda, a three year old girl lost her life just few days back in a village in Sehore, about 40 kilometers away from Bhopal, capital city of the state of Madhya Pradesh. She was suffering with acute diarrhoea, and died of dehydration. She is not the only an isolated case, thousands of children die due to dehydration in diarrhoea in Madhya Pradesh and may be millions in India. Bhopal recently lost four lives due to cholera. Oral Rehydration salt solution can save many like Sharda. Every year on July 29 we observe ORS Day with aim to promote the use of Oral Rehydration salt and to educate the people about its use.

Oral Rehydration Salt is a dry mixture of powder containing Sodium Chloride, Trisodium Citrate dehydrate, Potassium Chloride and anhydrous glucose. It is used for prevention and treatment of dehydration due to diarrhoea including maintenance therapy. Acute diarrhoeal diseases are among the leading causes of mortality in infants and young children in India. In most cases, death is caused by dehydration. Dehydration from diarrhoea can be prevented by giving extra fluids at home, or it can be treated simply, effectively, and cheaply in all age-groups and in all but the most severe cases by giving patients by mouth an adequate glucose-electrolyte solution called Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) solution. Oral Rehydration Therapy was first researched in the 1940s but it was twenty years later before the idea was developed by research institutions in Bangladesh and India for the management of severe cholera. It was adopted in 1978 as primary tool to fight diarrhoea and since then has saved million of deaths of children, but still there is grave need to promotes its use and enhance its access.

National family Health Survey III reveals that in the developing State like Madhya Pradesh only 28.6 % children with diarrhoea in last two weeks had received the ORS. Madhya Pradesh has the highest infant mortality rate in India. 76 children die out of the thousand born within the first year of their life; diarrhoea is one of the contributors to the same. State also has high incidence of malnutrition among children especially under three years of age, when malnourished child suffers with diarrhoea it aggravates the situation and increase chances of his or her mortality.

It is an indicatio that there is an urgent need to expand awareness among communities on its importance, its use and enhance its accessibility for communities. Though officially State has many stocking points of ORS like Anganwadi centre's, sub health centre's and primary health care centre's but more important is its accessibility at time when it is needed and knowledge its right usage by the communities and parents of the children when they need the most. Department of Health & Family Welfare, Government of Madhya Pradesh's medium term strategy document states that diarrhoeal disease episodes per year is 760 per one lakh population and it projects that by year 2015 it will increase to 880 episodes per lakh.

This means that we not only need to expand usage of this inexpensive and readily available intervention in the state which can help reduce death and suffering from dehydration caused by diarrhoea. It will also help to reduce number of days of hospitalization, length of treatment and costly intravenous treatment. The tragedy is that inspite of the medical fraternity and many of us working in social sector know about its advantage as life saviour for children. Experience, research has validated the same and it was hailed by the prestigious British Journal, the Lancet as "…potentially the most important medical advance of the century…" children still die for want of this simple intervention. May be we need to go beyond our present efforts and need to rework out strategies and bridge the existing gap between information and knowledge and action by communities at ground or else we will continue to let children die…

July 19, 2007

HIV/AIDS and the media

Personal opinion BY KONDWANI MKANDAWIRE published in The Daily Times, Malawi;s web site

It is now almost 22 years since the first person was diagnosed with HIV in Malawi. Over these 22 years, the number of HIV positive people has risen to frightening levels.

Those that spearhead the fight against HIV/Aids have done research in a lot of areas with the intention of finding ways that can help slow down the spread of the disease. The results of the research have shown than the battle front is wider than anticipated. The skills and techniques to be used need to be up to date. One area that the HIV/Aids combatants have recently engaged is culture.

Malawi is a country with diverse beliefs and cultures. Unfortunately, some of the cultural practices that we have been proud of for centuries, have come under serious scrutiny for contributing towards the rising numbers of HIV infected people. It is not surprising that even the custodians of our culture, the chiefs have come out to confess that something has to be done to stop culture from contributing to the death of the nation through HIV/Aids.

All these HIV/Aids discussions need to reach out to the masses. One technological factor that has made this possible is the mass media, radio, television and more. The mass media makes mass communication easy. Mass communication, according to media theorist James W. Carey (1975), is a symbolic process whereby reality is produced, maintained, repaired and transformed. Mass media and mass communication in this 21st century are crucial aspects of many cultures. Through this cultural perspective on mass media, we learn that mass communication is only effective when the audience, producers and technologies are all part and parcel of the communication process.

Culture is the learned behaviour of members of a given social group. Others have expanded on this meaning. Writer M. Harris gives this meaning; culture is the learned, socially acquired traditions and lifestyles of the members of the society, including their patterned, repetitive ways of thinking, feeling and acting. Why am I bringing up this integration of mass communication and culture in the HIV/Aids context? As a producer of mass communication programmes, I have come across some cultural barriers that are so embedded in some Malawians so much that they don’t understand how mass communication can assist in the fight against HIV. The biggest problem with these cultural sycophants is the belief that there are some things that cannot be discussed on the radio or Television because doing so would be profane or obscene.

But what is the main channel of HIV transmission? According to the experts, it is sexual intercourse. The teachings of HIV prevention therefore emphasise on sexual intercourse. The ABC of HIV prevention is all about sex.

It is therefore heart breaking when you are told by some mass media ‘experts’ or individuals that when you are communicating with the masses on issues of HIV, one needs to censure ones language. There is a saying in Chichewa that says; moto umapita kwatsala tchire (fire goes where there is still bush.) there are a lot of youths in Malawi that are not yet infected with HIV and some are not yet sexually active. If Malawians continue believing that discussing sexual issues openly with this group is obscene, we will not win the battle against Aids. These people need to wake up and start understanding that the culture of euphemism in HIV/Aids communication has led to many youths trying things that they don’t understand because everybody was afraid of using obscene language. ‘Does a fish know that it’s wet?’ influential cultural and media critic Marshall McLuhan would ask. The answer he would say is “No”. The fish’s existence is so dominated by water that only when water is absent is the fish aware of its condition. Do we want our youths to continue believing that sex is natural that is why everybody is having sex? Is it obscene when you use the radio or television to tell the youths about the dangers of sex? Should we wait until one is infected for us to realise that sex can be dangerous? I believe this is an era in which we all have to fight the euphemism culture and start calling a spade a spade. If we are to save the future generation from HIV, the mass media ‘experts’ that think discussing explicitly on radio or TV sexual issues in the context of HIV is obscene should find another job.

These people should understand that culture provides information that helps us make meaningful distinctions about right and wrong, appropriate and inappropriate, good and bad and so on. How does culture do this? It is obviously through communication including mass communication. Cultures limiting effects can be negative when we entrust our communication to media gurus whose interests are narrow, unwilling and unable to move past patterned, repetitive ways of thinking, feeling and acting. A culture’s values and beliefs reside in the stories it tells. Our stories help define our realities, shaping the way we think, feel and act. The stories that people tell about their sexual experiences on radio or TV can help a lot of people change their sexual behaviours.

The good thing is that the youths find these so-called ‘obscene’ programmes very helpful. It must be mentioned here that this communication must be professionally and ethically transmitted but the media ‘experts’ should not hide behind ethics when it is apparent that they don’t understand media ethics. They don’t even know the difference between explicit and obscene material.

Mass communication is not just transmission of messages in space but it is central to the maintenance of society in time. In other words, the ritual perspective is necessary to understand the cultural importance of mass communication. The mass media has a crucial role in informing the next generation about the dangers of HIV and everything that goes with it explicitly so that the youths know and understand. HIV/Aids is compelling us to change the way we live, think and act on issues of sex. It calls us to change our sexual life style. We are forced to change the way we communicate on issues of sex and sexuality. We are persuaded to abandon the ‘culture of silence’ and start talking explicitly about the very issues that we all culturally thought were a taboo to prevent accelerated rates of HIV infections and unnecessary deaths.