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People's Radio:
Communicating change
across Africa

Chapter 1

Radio for Development as Community Engagement

 
The following content is extracted from the first half of Chapter 1 of the book People's Radio: Communicating change across Africa by Linje Manyozo
References, figures and tables cited in the following text are available in the actual publication.
 

Introduction

This book is a critique of communication for development that examines the radio-based methods and practices employed to improve community engagement. Community engagement is a participatory and deliberative process, decentralizing unidirectional and hegemonic power systems to collective decision-making, in order to foster improved governance, livelihoods, safer communities and sustainable environment. It addresses the challenges of using radio as a tool for community engagement in sustainable development by examining specific case studies from the African continent. The objective is to improve how governments, organizations, broadcasters and communities use radio networks as instruments of participatory knowledge production, exchange and utilization to achieve social change and development. Thus, this book is relevant to global discourses on communication and development. It centres on demonstrating how elusive participation can become if implemented without adequate consideration of power relations within indigenous and local knowledge systems, concerns with universal appeal. It proposes that more effective radio for development initiatives should be built on participatory action research, local communication needs and indigenous knowledge systems, and should rely on relevant broadcasting technology and infrastructure, and be designed to be independent of donor funds.

Chapter 1 has two objectives: to trace how radio for development has evolved as a praxis of communication for development; and to define developmental formats of radio in relation to community engagement as a significant building block in sustainable local development. Debates on the role of communication in development emphasize the empowerment of citizens. They also focus on challenging them to collaboratively and democratically generate, exchange and utilize relevant development knowledge to improve their welfare (Chambers, 2005; Melkote and Steeves, 2001; Quebral, 1988; Servaes, 2008; Tufte and Mefalopulos, 2009). Such debates acknowledge the increasing importance of community participation and indigenous knowledge, as well as information and communication technologies (ICT) as strategies for strengthening decision-making structures in formulating development policies from below. This book appraises formats of radio broadcasting that have been used as strategies for community engagement to increase citizen empowerment, reduce poverty and achieve social change, through an approach known as development broadcasting.

The theoretical framework underpinning this book comes from participatory development (Adedeji, 1991; Chambers, 2005); development communication (Quebral, 1988, Servaes, 2003, 2008); community engagement (Bessette, 2004; Taylor, Wilkinson and Cheers, 2008) and radio for development (Librero, 1985; Ilboudo, 2003). Methodologically, the study on which this book is based was a qualitative exercise that built on the deductive paradigms of social research, in which the data-gathering process relied on a specific theory and a well investigated premise. The case studies in this book are enriched by and built upon open-ended interviews and focus group discussions with development radio journalists, radio-listening club field facilitators, monitors and members, rural radio programme managers and broadcasters; and my personal experience as a radio producer and scriptwriter of development radio programmes. The study of these case studies also included participant observations of radio for development initiatives, analyses of unpublished field reports from organizations, and letters from listeners commenting on various development radio programmes.

The book recognizes the power of the oral medium in face to face speech, or mediated through radio broadcasting. For Africa, linguistic diversity is both a problem and strength. It is a problem in that high illiteracy rates challenge media professionals and communicators to explore ways of communicating with people in multiple indigenous contexts. It is strength because this diversity is rooted in oral traditions and spoken narratives that existed long before modern communication technologies, and was engendered by the arrival of the first settlers and missionaries. The challenge for Africa’s development broadcasters is to speak development alongside local and indigenous people in their linguistic diversity, rather than, as the colonizers did, to speak development and social change using foreign languages and concepts.

This book is also an acknowledgement of the fact that for many developing nations, with no access to electricity, telephones, Internet or television, radio is the only reliable means of information and knowledge exchange: it is a readily available, pervasive, immediate and extensive medium which the majority of socially and economically marginalized citizens can afford. Using a case study approach, the book critiques the strategies of engaging citizens in policy formulation through development broadcasting. However, as Boafo (2000), Moemeka (1994), Nyamnjoh (2005), Ogundimu (2002) and Servaes (1996, 2008) argue, people can participate and make their aspirations known in development and democracy only if public communication is institutionalized. This book is aimed at academics and practitioners, and investigates how radio broadcasting is employed as a tool for citizen communication and engagement to support development in Africa.

The book argues that community broadcasting is supported by two main pillars: community decision-making capabilities in relation to the political economy of radio station networks; and the community’s access to and participation in radio station programming. Communities must decide where the station will be located, the engineering and infrastructure to be employed, the sustainability mechanisms that will be exploited, and the programming styles, aesthetics and content. This will enable the radio technology to become a rallying point for local development. I argue that discourses on the infrastructures and engineering aspects of community/development broadcasting have taken a back seat because communication for development scholarship tends to ignore political economy perspectives. As the research in this book demonstrates, the consequence is that discussions of community and development broadcasting sustainability have focused on two aspects – social and institutional sustainability - and ignored the third, financial sustainability. Ultimately, the engineering and infrastructural aspects of new community and development broadcasting initiatives are decided by the funders, the donors, thereby providing a space for radio for development initiatives that are donor-dependent.

 

Radio for development

Radio for development centres on community participation in and ownership of communication programmes and systems, in which broadcasting tools, such as radio, are employed to facilitate participatory processes of generating, sharing and utilizing knowledge to improve people’s livelihoods and environment. Radio for development is development broadcasting specifically through radio broadcast. This book offers insights into how radio for development can be enhanced to facilitate active citizen participation in national development policy formulation and implementation in Africa. However, the suggestions are applicable to other developing nations with similar socio-economic and political attributes.

Radio for development traditionally refers to programming targeted at rural communities, produced by state broadcasters based in cities. From the late 1980s, however, radio for development began to exploit new opportunities from establishment in small, local stations in rural areas, to cover small communities (Ilboudo, 2003). Simultaneously, the concept of ‘rural’ was revised by scholars and researchers to mean an economic situation rather than a geographic terrain (Karayenga, 1997). The focus of this interventionist model of radio, therefore, has changed and embraces both development and the processes of empowerment. In this book, I appraise the historical development of radio for development from rural programming formats by national broadcasters, to the independent, local stations, based in and owned by communities, and highlight their role in shaping development dialogues and policies.

Building on a communication for development critique (Quebral 1988; Servaes, 2008), I offer insights into how radio-based communication can be enhanced to facilitate active citizen participation and engagement in development policy formulation and implementation. The central strategy employed to address these challenges is community engagement which, in practice, implies active involvement of major stakeholders in policy and systems formulation, implementation and evaluation. I address the challenges of using radio as a major support tool for sustainable development by examining specific cases from the African continent. The objective is to improve how developing world broadcasters and communities use participatory and decentralized radio broadcasting as an instrument of community engagement. I develop a conceptual radio for development framework, which could serve as the path to mediated community engagement, thereby enabling communities, stakeholders and their partners collaboratively to conceive and implement development policies.

 

Communication and development

Community engagement emerged as a practice in deliberative democracy in Ancient Greece, when city states (the Polis) required citizens to participate in political governance. Engagement as a strategy of performing citizenship has become entrenched over the years, informed by dirrefernt approaches towards elective or representative democracy. Community organizing was added as an important feature of pluralist liberal democracies, which saw wide legitimation of the concepts of liberty, equality and freedom. As practised today, community engagement draws on a mosaic of methods and theories in political science, public policy, agricultural extension, rural sociology, social work, anthropology, participatory action research, communication, development, and public and community health. This book builds on the community engagement concept located between development and communication.

As participation in development practice, community engagement has been shaped by dominant development thinking in its aim to maximize community capabilities and strengths as the building blocks of sustainable development (Taylor, Wilkinson and Cheers, 2008). Community engagement has been shaped by the three major development paradigms – modernization, dependency/structuralism and multiplicity. Kidd (1982) and Servaes (2008) argue that modernization principally was the dominant approach to viewing poverty and underdevelopment as the direct consequences of self-inflicted and traditional practices in the developing world. It was believed that the solution was civilizing and converting the developing world to look like the west, abandoning practices and approaches considered backward, and implementing strategies for rapid economic development (Asante, 1991; Deng, 1998; Kidd, 1982; Servaes, 2008).

The integration of communication in development was required to meet the larger ideological vision of modernizing the periphery (Lerner, 1959; Rogers, 1962, 1976, 1977; Schramm, 1964; Servaes, 2003, 2008). Mass media were perceived to have responsibility for social change, bringing new aspirations to communities and societies in order to help them achieve mobility and stability, which were considered necessary stages in the transition from old customs and behaviours to new practices and social relationships (Lerner, 1959). Rogers (1976, 1977) discusses a diffusion model with four main elements - innovation, communication channel, period, and social system - which focuses on understanding the social networks through which an innovation spreads among the members of a social system.

In the second development paradigm, the dependency and structuralist approaches perceived poverty and underdevelopment as the consequences of structural inequalities that forced developing nations to rely on developed nations for economic decisions and strategies (Kidd, 1982; Servaes, 2008). Dependency theorists were highly critical of the Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) that western financial lending institutions were forcing on developing world economies to reduce poverty and strengthen their economies (Adedeji, 1993; Deng, 1998; Servaes, 2003, 2008). This period (1970s-1980s) became known as the era of dependence and dispossession, since the increased reliance on foreign debt were ‘albatrosses around the necks of African countries’ (Adedeji, 1991: 770).

In the late 1970s, communication scholars started to question some of their earlier assumptions, and began to appreciate the importance of the location and contribution of communication (Servaes, 2003, 2008). It began to be realized that a strategy of local, horizontal communication must be at the centre of a development strategy in order to facilitate local decision-making (Schramm, 1979; Servaes, 2008). Communication scholars introduced the concepts of integrated rural development, focused on development support communication and participatory rural appraisal as consultation tools for collectively designed, meaningful development interventions. New development could be built on popular participation in self-development, the integration of traditional with modern systems, emphasis on self-reliance and local resources, and equality in the distribution of information. Development was seen as a wide participatory process of social change that ‘allows for better realization of human values that allow a society greater control over its environment and over its own political destiny’ (Rogers, 1976: 117).

Debates supporting the third development paradigm, participatory development, began to emerge in the mid 1970s. Ascroft (1974) argues that in the mechanistic development interventions implemented in the 1950s and 1970s, there was disregard of local knowledge. Although local people had the specialized ‘plausible and feasible’ knowledge about the environment and the development problems, foreign experts regarded this local expertise as ‘quaint, simplistic inconsequentialities that tended to confound their sophisticated economic formulae and development models’ (Ascroft, 1974: 74). The neo-liberal concept of popular democracy was articulated and promoted by the west and emphasized the democratization of development, and political democratization became an important conditionality of aid and debt (Asante, 1991; Melkote and Steeves, 2001; Servaes, 2003, 2008). In contrast, participatory development, or the multiplicity paradigm as Servaes (2008) terms it, emphasizes the heteroglossia of voices, which has resulted in some approaches to communication for development incorporating constituent aspirations within development initiatives.

The term ‘communication for development’ was defined by Quebral (2002: 16) as ‘human communication linked to the planned transformation’ of a poor society into one with socio-economic growth, greater equity and the realization of individual potential. Similarly, the Southern African Development Community Centre of Communication for Development (SADC-CCD) defines the concept as the strategic employment of participatory activities and communications in development strategies to reduce poverty and improve livelihoods. The Communication for Social Change (CFSC) Consortium introduces an integrated communication for social change model, defining it as a process where ‘community dialogue and collective action work together to produce social change in a community that improves the health and welfare of all of its members’ (Figueroa et al., 2005: 5). The process comprises the four elements of catalyst, community dialogue, community action, and individual/social change. There is a recognition, as pointed out by Servaes (2008: 15) that ‘development initiatives cannot produce change without an ongoing, culturally and socially relevant communication dialogue among development providers and clientele, and within the recipient group itself.’

Combining these theoretical expositions, communication for development can be defined as method-driven and theory-based public and community engagement strategy, constructed on participatory generation, sharing and utilization of knowledge towards the building of sustainable communities, livelihoods and a sustainable environment. Such a strategy involves strengthening local decision-making structures, reducing illiteracy and poverty, and improving socio-economic growth through coordinated efforts aimed at combating underdevelopment, disempowerment and marginalization. The theoretical connection is participation and, as applied in development, implies three fundamental elements: substantial or complete liberation from oppressive power relations; access to decision-making processes; and communicative relationships (Servaes, 2008).

 

Participation

There is no singular, normative of participation. As applied in development, the various ‘gradations’ of participation (Arnstein, 1969) describe a holistic, collective and dialogical process that brings together relevant stakeholders, engaging them in critical deliberative debate about a development problem (Bessette, 2004; Melkote and Steeves, 2003, 2008). The praxis should be inclusive, since it requires creation of sustainable collaborations with local communities without manipulation to accept outsiders’ thinking to solve particular problems (Chambers, 2005; Hickey and Mohan, 2004). Bessette (2004: 26), influenced by Freire’s (1972, 1996) critical pedagogy, Chamber’s (2005) participatory action research and the International Development Research Centre’s (IDRC) work in community-based natural resource management, conceives participation as communicative relationships that allow for the integration of community needs in development policies, during which relevant stakeholders ‘learn together through joint action and reflection’.

Arnstein (1969) uses the idea of a ladder of citizen participation to describe three key forms of participation -citizen power, tokenism and non-participation or the empty ritual of participation. These categorizations are based largely on the levels of power distribution between ruling elites and communities. Arnstein describes citizen power as the processes in which the politically and economically marginalized become involved as they share information, policies, resources and managerial decisions on programme implementation (Arnstein, 1969; Chambers, 2005; Servaes, 2008; Tufte and Mefalopulos, 2009). In describing this form of participation as ‘empowerment participation’ Tufte and Mefalopulos (2009) conceive of the practice as a class struggle and a social movement. Building on the idea of citizen control, power delegation and partnership building, participation as applied in community engagement can be seen, therefore, as a process of becoming, in which ‘nobodies are trying to become somebodies with enough power to make the target institutions responsive to their views, aspirations and needs’ (Arnstein, 1969: 218). In such processes, the primary stakeholders (usually local people) not only have the capability and strength to initiate processes, but can assume equal partner status, which enables them to own and control the processes (Tufte and Mefalopulos, 2009).

Arnstein’s (1969) tokenism encompasses informing, consulting, and placating citizens who may feel they have been heard, but as a result of unequal power relations, their views and aspirations remain proposals, and the powerful elites ‘retain’ the decision-making powers and responsibilities (Arnstein, 1969; Tufte and Mefalopulos, 2009). Equally, non-participation entails therapy and manipulation and, in practice, involves powerful elites manipulating communities into thinking that grassroots concerns have been captured when, in reality, these views are not used to re-direct policy decisions. Tokenism and non-participation enable powerful elites deliberatively to distort participation, to engineer community support for irrelevant programmes and policies. Participation may be represented by ‘rubberstamping’ or cleverly designed letterheadings. This is akin to what Freire (1972, 1996) refers to as the banking form of education, a public relations showpiece of advising and persuading communities to take certain policy decisions. This is the instrumental school of participation adopted by and within development projects (Tufte and Mefalopulos, 2009). It is achieved through irrational means, such as sourcing signatures, filling out questionnaires or voting for policies, which Cohen (1997) and Rawls (1997) believe compromises the normative essence of deliberative democracy.

 

Approaches to communication for development

When participation is applied to the theory and practices of communication for development, three dominant approaches emerge, which should not be seen entirely in isolation. They are media for development, media development, and participatory and community communication. As I discuss later in this book, all three approaches have implications for radio for development.

The media for development approach encompasses centralized processes of reporting and communicating development, in which mass media (including new media) are the central strategy in public communication, campaigns and advocacy on and about development issues. Oneobjective is to educate audiences and influence positive behaviour changes (Jamias, 1991). Another objective is to provide a public space for the representation of subaltern and oppressed social groups. Media for development sees the media (print, electronic and new media) as key strategies to drive the process of communicating development, based on the thinking emerging from social psychology and behavioural change communications. One example is entertainment-education approach, Twende na Wakati (Let’s Go With the Times) in Tanzania, Soul City in South Africa and other similar efforts across the world. Singhal and Rogers (1999: 9) define entertainment-education as a ‘process of purposively designing and implementing a media message’ with the aim to entertain and educate, in order to increase people’s knowledge about an education issue, create favourable attitudes, and change overt behaviour.’

The media development approach is not restricted to the developing world context and involves supporting and building the capacity of media policies, structures and ownership as a way of strengthening good governance and fragile or transitional democracies.The International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) is a ‘multilateral forum’ within the United Nations (UN), established to mobilize and promote media development. Media development projects are premised on the concept of the ‘free flow of information’, which is informed by the thinking emerging from North American and European political science (liberal democratic political theory), libertarian and utilitarian philosophy (John Stuart Mill), enlightenment (Kant), modernity (Weber) and modernization (Rostow). The neoclassical assumption is that since free media have contributed to stronger democratic societies in the west, they will similarly strengthen transitional and nascent developing world democracies (Lerner, 1971; Mansell, 1982). These projects include the promotion of media independence and pluralism, the development of community media, radio and television organizations, the modernization of national and regional news agencies, and the training of media professionals (Hochheimer, 1999; Howley, 2005; Jankowski et al., 1992; IPDC, nd; Opubor, 2000).

Many media development initiatives originate from the recommendations of Many Voices, One World, the UNESCO-commissioned International Commission for the Study of Communication Problems (ICSCP, 1980) report. This report emphasizes the independence and self-reliance of media systems in the developing world to achieve alternative communication through the formulation of communication for development policies, the development of rural media, protecting human rights, promoting cultural identity and the social responsibility of communicators (Berrigan, 1979; ICSCP, 1980; Minnie, 2006; Servaes, 2003). The ICSCP report promotes the ‘utilisation of local radio to facilitate the production of programs relevant to community development efforts, stimulating participation and providing opportunity for diversified cultural expression’ (ICSCP, 1980: 256). In relation to participation, the ICSCP report recommends that media owners and journalists should ‘encourage their audiences to play a more active role in communication by allocating more space and time for the views of individual members of the public or organised social groups.’ Emphasis was also placed on ‘devising ways whereby the management of the media could be democratised’ (ICSCP, 1980: 267).

The participatory and community communication approach refers largely to community engagement approaches that involve development stakeholders employing participatory communication approaches (with or without the use of mass media) with the aim of authoring development from below. The approach builds on participatory action research strategies from which community communication emerges to facilitate the inclusion of indigenous knowledge systems in deliberative development dialogue (Tufte and Mefalopulos, 2009). The theoretical foundations of rural sociology, rural and agricultural development are the basis of participatory action research as a ‘cyclical approach of looking, thinking (reflecting), and acting cyclical approach that engages development stakeholders ‘as active participants in a process of both research activities and efforts to act for positive change’ (Bacon, Brown and Mendez, 2005: 2).

In communication for development, participatory action research thinking has augmented community communication models, thereby offering an opportunity for consultative, collaborative and collegial forms of participation in decision making (Bacon, Brown and Mendez, 2005; Krohling Peruzzo, 2004; Tufte and Mefalopulos, 2009). For Kivikuru (1994: 408) community communication refers to the participatory grassroots forms of communication that have a ‘program of motivation and activation, in which the final goal is the improvement of the quality of life for those living in the community’. Community communication, therefore, focuses on communication processes (stories, proverbs, orality) that take place within communities - with or without the mediation of media instruments. The role of the media in this case is to facilitate access and participation not just for their own sake, but to allow informed, participatory and inclusive decision-making in relation to the formulation of the development agenda (Tufte and Mefalopulos, 2009).

Table 1.1 (see next page) presents this three-pronged approach to understanding communication for development. It shows that the participatory and community communication approach focuses on stakeholder engagement with or without the support of media facilities. This approach aims at allocating maximum power and control to citizens as part of the process of engagement (Tufte and Mefalopulos, 2009; UK Government, 2008). The use of radio for development as a community-centred model and approach for facilitating such stakeholder and citizen engagement requires careful consideration of the power relations that influence the success of participatory decision-making. What is community engagement?

 

Community engagement

Community engagement aims to maximize community capability and strength, as the building blocks of sustainable development (Chambers, 2005; Taylor, Wilkinson and Cheers, 2008). Modernization strategies perceived poverty and underdevelopment as immediate outcomes of the backward, traditional practices in the developing world (Rogers, 1976, 1993). Community engagement was viewed as encompassing top-down dissemination of information and innovations, as posited in Rogers’s diffusion of innovation theory, to modernize the periphery. In the same vein, the dependency paradigm that emerged as a Latin American critique of modernization, attempted to slow poverty and strengthen peripheral economies (Adedeji, 1993; Chambers, 2005). Community engagement, nevertheless, arguably was structured within integrated rural development programmes, and incorporated external, donor-driven and co-opted praxes of participation and consultation.

Community engagement has thus become a means of incorporating constituent aspirations within policies and initiatives. Governments and institutions formulate different approaches to achieving popular participation in development, hence the employment of community engagement approaches. In recognition of the view that meaningful development should engage the intended beneficiaries in policy decision making (Freire, 1996; Chambers, 2005), some governments and development organizations have formulated policies intended to place people at the centre of governance and development processes. The aim is to enable them to participate in development dialogues while at the same time, passing power into their hands. How are participation and power located in community engagement?

Community engagement refers to the political strategies of including citizens and communities in decision-making processes in the the development and implementation of acceptable policies by governments, institutions and the community (South Australia Government, 2008; Taylor, Wilkinson and Cheers, 2008). As a praxis, community engagement is a communicative and participatory process in which institutions and elites or the ‘principals’ share power with the ‘subaltern’ (Scott, 2001) or the communities, thereby strengthening local democracy. This enables citizens and communities to ‘have the maximum influence, control and ownership over decisions, forces and agencies, which shape their lives and environments’ (UK Government 2008: iii). This is both causal and capability power, which implies agency in ‘bringing about consequences’ and ‘producing specific effects’ at local, societal or global levels, despite certain constraints (Scott 2001: 1). Therefore, participation is at the centre of community engagement.

As a strategy for giving communities causal power, community engagement allows communities to make and influence decisions that characterize their worldview. Arnstein (1969), however, fears that in the absence of equal power relations between powerful institutions and elites (the principals and subalterns), communities cannot ensure that policy directions include their concerns (Arnstein, 1969). This could result in situations where communities make decisions that cannot or may not be, and oftentimes are not, implemented. Even at community level, hierarchical power relationships exist, with some elite groups with access to financial or material resources having more power. Unless power is adequately shared at community level, communities may only ‘participate in participation itself’ (Arnstein, 1969: 220). Powerful individuals could prevent real community concerns from being articulated through ‘nondecision-making’, enabling these elites illegitimately to speak for the community and implement private rather than public policies (McConnell, Scott, 2001).

To exercise power that has causal consequences, communities first must have this power. There is a difference, as noted by Scott (2001), between exercising and holding power. After acquiring power, communities will have it even when they are not exercising it (Scott, 2001). The attribute of having power is referred to as a dispositional capacity, the ‘ability that actors have to facilitate certain things’ (Scott, 2001: 6). Gramscian concepts of hegemony inform Althusserian concepts of ideological state apparatuses and the Habermasian concept of the public sphere, in which this kind of power displays ‘facilitative or productive’ characteristics, marked by collective and communal mechanisms through which consensus is achieved (Scott, 2001: 9). Power relations are developed though communicative acts, cultural and social upbringing and interactions, as well as shared social values (Scott, 2001). For communities, engagement is a process of collective mobilization that builds a sense of solidarity, of ‘having the community spirit’ and of shared understanding, allowing people to ‘establish consensus’ and legitimate collective decisions ‘over the actions that they will jointly undertake’ (Scott, 2001: 119).

In this case, then, community engagement can be understood as a fundamental process of sharing power equally within the community, as well as sharing power between this community with shared values and experiences, and the principal power holding institutions. An important feature of community engagement is deliberative dialogue, which, normatively, is rational and democratic and could comprise rational considerations, corrective influence and persuasion (Cohen, 1997; Rawls, 1997; Scott, 2001; Servaes, 2008). Cohen (1997) argues that democratic dialogue follows an ideal deliberation procedure allowing for collective decision-making around conceptions of public good. As a form of deliberative democracy, community engagement ideally, therefore, should involve independent, free, rational and pluralistic deliberation (Cohen, 1997).

Rawls (1997: 96) underlines a deliberative democracy model based on public reason, ‘which is the reasoning of citizens, and its nature and content is public’. Through public reason and deliberative contestation, community engagement processes identify problems, assess the local situation, reveal disagreements, resolve conflicts, plan and agree on resolutions to development challenges (Cohen, 1997; Rawls, 1997). Such dialogues are carried out in situated and mediated public spheres since, after all, democracy is dialogue (Freire and Horton, 1990).

Bessette (2004) sees significant elements of a community engagement process as comprising establishing relationships with local communities; understanding local settings; involving a community in identifying development questions and concrete initiatives; identifying relevant stakeholders; building partnerships; collaboratively developing, pre-testing, self-managing, implementing and evaluating initiatives; and, importantly, sharing and utilizing results (Bessette, 2004). Decision making must operate through all community engagement levels as a deliberative and rational communicative action through which communities critically analyse their situations and, using the available evidence, choose a public action that will address the root cause of a local problem. Community engagement thus becomes a ‘continuous cycle of action and reflection, in drawing conclusions, applying them in practice and then questioning them again’ (Bessette, 2004: 26-27).

In this process, the role of the facilitator is to help participants to make informed, clear, economically pragmatic, ecologically compatible and socially acceptable decisions. This individual is best seen as a participant-facilitator who motivates communities to unpack complex development conundrums. The communicative facilitator must understand the praxis of living with the people if he or she is effectively to help communities to speak and unspeak their world (Freire, 1996). Living with the people is a process that requires tools and a ‘sound understanding of the local setting and subjects’ (Bessette, 2004: 21). It also requires a communicator’s understanding of indigenous knowledge systems to enable them to speak and unspeak alongside local people (Freire, 1972). Such a facilitator is a progressive and democratic advisor who respects the people’s expertise, asks critical questions, and motivates them to think beyond their horizons and to come up with solutions (Freire, 1996).

 

Radio for development as community engagement

Employment of radio practices and structures as support tools in development interventions varies across the continents, which has produced diverse, if not conflicting, terms and definitions including development radio, radio for development, educational broadcasting, development communication through radio, indigenous radio, development radio broadcasting, debate radio, rural radio, the other radio, community radio or participatory radio. Radio for development has been described as a practice involving the employment of radio-based communications to support planned change (Librero, 1985; Moemeka, 1994). It can be conceptualized as the strategic, theory-based and method-driven, employment of radio networks and programmes as spheres of and situations promoting deliberative development that leads to collective public actions. Radio becomes a tool, a forum, a dialogue and a process of reinforcing the capabilities of local development institutions, enabling them to achieve a Freirean (1972, 1996) conscientization, a key aspect of Sen’s (1999) notion of development as freedom.

Radio for development initiatives ideally place the citizen at the centre of mediated community engagement, as a way of strengthening deliberative development and democracy. These radio formats institutionalize public deliberation, which is the foundation upon which public decision-making in liberal democracies is consolidated. Radio as mediated engagement, therefore, offers a sphere for the cooperative production of subject-generated radio, thereby providing possibilities for ‘perceiving the world from the viewpoint of the people who lead the lives that are different from those traditionally in control of the means for imaging the world’ (Ruby, 1991: 50). Managing mediated community engagement processes enables communities to develop legitimate policies by using radio to establish Gramscian compromise equilibriums, or what Cohen (1997: 75) describes as ‘rationally motivated consensus’.

 

Approaches and formats in radio for development

This section develops a theoretical framework to serve as an analytical tool for studying the uses of radio broadcasting as a community engagement pathway. This exposé appraises formats of radio for development employed by development institutions, broadcasters and communities as strategies for the empowerment and engagement of citizens for improving livelihoods and reducing poverty. The discussion introduces participation and management approaches as having shaped the emergence of radio-mediated engagement on the African continent.

Moemeka (1994) and McAnany (1973) present five strategies for exploiting radio in development: open broadcasting; instructional radio; rural radio forum; radio schools; and radio and animation. Open broadcasting involves the airing of development messages to an unorganized audience; instructional radio relies on cooperation and guided listening; rural radio forum uses radio programmes to initiate group discussions on specific topics; radio school is used for rural community education; and radio and animation is a radio participation group aimed at training leaders to promote community dialogue on development issues (Boafo, 2000; Moemeka, 1994).

Studies of all five strategies, however, reveal that in implementing them, broadcasters focus on two objectives, namely, audience participation in generating radio programming content and community management of radio forums or stations (Berrigan, 1981; Ilboudo, 2003; Librero, 1985, 2004; Servaes, 2008). Based on these two objectives, I suggest that the two main approaches to understanding employment of radio for development as a community engagement strategy are participation in programme development and management of radio structures.

 
The above content is extracted from the first half of Chapter 1 of the book. References, figures and tables cited in the above text are available in the actual publication.
 
 
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