Friday, August 20, 2010

Career in Development Communication

 Development Communication is defined in communication studies as an organized effort to increase control over resources and regulatory institutions by groups and movements of those hitherto excluded from those controls. It is a forum which educates and mobilizes masses to take active and intelligent participation in development activities with maximum efforts. It generally includes educating masses about their socio-economic environment, building self-reliance based on solidarity support and sharing, involvement of people in deliberations and decision making, motivating people to acquire an ability to manage conflicts and to build consensus and finally to help the people with interest aggregation and problem articulation.

Scope and Areas of Work

The experience of the past sixty years has demonstrated the crucial importance of communication in the field of development. Within the perspective of development communication, two trends developed successively: an approach that favoured large-scale actions and relied on the mass media, and an approach that promoted grassroots communication (also called community communication), promoting small-scale projects and relying especially on small media (videos, posters, slide presentation, etc.).

Development communication is an extraordinarily broad field. It covers a wide range of topics, from the traditional themes of agriculture, health and public awareness, to newer areas such as governance, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), urban development, youth, and so on.

Communication uses a wide range of approaches, from "social marketing" (which draws on advertising and marketing to promote development goals) to participatory approaches that work with local people and help them communicate their needs and opinions to others. It covers lobbying and advocacy, mass marketing and highly targeted campaigns.
Communication can serve various audiences: farmers, villagers, herders, teachers, students, women, policy makers, extension workers, scientists, unemployed youths, prostitutes, health workers, suicidal teenagers, small businesspeople, fisher-folk, government officials, treaty negotiators, donors, ethnic minorities...the list is long. Determining the correct audience is a vital part of a successful communication intervention.

Communication uses many different types of media: mass media such as radio, television and the press; electronic media such as emails and websites; interpersonal media such as training courses, meetings and face-to-face contact; narrowcast media such as posters, flyers and handouts.

Nature of the Job

Having a Degree or Diploma in Development Communication, one can work as a Communication, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer for a major International or National Non-Government or Non-Profit Organizations. One can also work as a Consultant on part-time or assignment basis. The basic job is to strategize or plan communication activities based on participatory approaches including media and interpersonal communication channels which may facilitate a dialogue among different stakeholders involved in a development activity having a common development problem or goal by setting a number of activities to contribute to its solution, or its realization.

You can also work as a Researcher, Extension Worker or as a Development Practitioner to deal with development problems and experimenting and implementing appropriate solutions.  But you are not the only performer. The process must be based on the active participation of the end users and involve the other stakeholders working with the communities. This is the fundamental basis of participatory development communication.

Where to Study and the Eligibility

Most of the University Departments offering a Post-Graduate or Under-Graduate program in Mass Communication and Journalism generally have Development Communication as one of their main subjects. Some Universities, Colleges and Media Institutions also offer specialization in Development Communication. Anwar Jamal Kidwai Mass Communication Research Centre (AJK-MCRC) of Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi offers a unique one year Post-Graduate Diploma Program in Development Communication which familiarizes the students about various concurrent development initiatives taking place at Global and Domestic level.  The Department of Mass Communication and Journalism of Guru Jambheswar University has recently started a Masters Program in Development Communication.

The Eligibility to take admission in these courses is generally a Bachelor’s in any stream having some understanding of socio-economic issues. The selection will be based on a written test followed by a personal interview. One having a good knowledge of current happenings in development sector can get a selection.
Where to Look for the Job

Most of the Non-Government and Non-Profit organizations advertise their vacancies in newspapers. Now a day you can also find all the details regarding the jobs on the websites of these development agencies. Consulting firms generally have databases of CVs. Search the name of these firms, get yourself registered with them and frequently visit their websites to find out how to submit your CV to them. Further, universities and colleges also do consulting work, often in research rather than project implementation. So, universities websites can also be helpful.


The salary in development sectors depends on various factors. Your qualification and experience, your expertise in a particular field, the budget of the project, the implementation agency, the donor, the length of the assignment, the urgency of the project all counts. Some employers like United Nations Agencies and USAID follows a set rules governing how much they will pay for a certain assignment. They look in particular your qualifications and experience and then set the rate accordingly. The salaries of International Development bodies are generally tax free and they also offer high incentives.
Excelling your Skills

A development communication practitioner should have a prior understanding of the local development dynamics of a place or community where or with whom he/she is planning to work. Without such prior knowledge, it is often very difficult to build a sound understanding of the setting, even by conducting participatory rural appraisal activities.
Further, identification of relevant sources of documentation and resource people and/or organizations that know the community very well should be the first thing to be considered.

At the beginning, you need to excel your skills to collect preliminary information on the community with whom your NGO is working and its environment, entering the community, getting to know the people and the resource persons in the community, developing a more thorough collection of information with the participation of the local people and resource persons, and facilitating a dialogue with them.
But what  really development communication means is building a relationship, developing collaboration mechanisms, facilitating and nurturing the exchange of information and knowledge, negotiating roles and responsibilities, and most importantly, building mutual trust. Here your interpersonal communication skills will count more.



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