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Communication and rural development

Prof Ibad Rashdi 

The term 'communication' generally refers to transfer of knowledge in a way that would enable recipient to understand, react to, and act upon the information received.  Therefore, the role of communication for rural development has often been emphasized by experts However, the idea of dependence on communication as the prime necessity in the process of development is gradually changing and communication is now given a supportive role in any rural development. 

Rural areas in the developing countries are increasingly becoming the focus of attention of policy makers and administrators. Because of backwardness of rural areas and lack of resource allocations for their development, a growing exodus of rural population is taking place towards cities. At the same time, lack of civic amenities in cities give rise to social upheaval and ethnic strife in developing countries. The need for an integrated development of the rural life is, therefore, assuming urgency and priority. 

It is axiomatic that development cannot be fruitful without an effective communication strategy. The need to study and analyze communication patterns in a society and formulating a comprehensive strategy for changing attitudes of masses is, therefore, a challenge to professionals and experts. 

It is in this context that many developing nations of Asia, Latin America and Africa, have set up centres and institutes to study and evolve techniques and methodologies aimed at improving development communication. Their programmes have been acclaimed for their positive contribution to the social development of their areas. These studies have established the fact that mere mass media campaigns cannot be effective in this regard and campaigns should be accompanied by the use of techniques based on dynamics of a given society, its customs, social structure, and pattern of communication. 

In Pakistan, though having an experience of planned development for over 50 years, no institute has been set up for research and training of development communication. Therefore, realising the importance and urgency of the matter, the University of Sindh has established the Centre for Rural Development Communication (CRDC) at Jamshoro. The basic purpose of the CRDC is to serve as a clearing house for dissemination of information on development communication and related issues and problems in general and Sindh in particular.Accordingly the CRDC strives to: 

i.   Undertaking research studies on development related problems and issues, especially, communication networks and other relevant aspects of rural social life; 
ii.  Evaluating development projects and identify unanticipated consequences of development activities. Exploring ways and means of increasing the use of research for policy-makers and development organizations; 
iii. Cooperating with the private and public sectors, NGOs and donor agencies in determining the major problems faced by policy makers and programme managers; identifying areas in which utilizable research could be conducted; 
iv.  Arranging short courses for the public and private personnel involved in various development oriented programmes; seminars/workshops for journalists, social activists, extension workers, media-persons, and NGO activists; 
v.  Also arranging training programmes in extension techniques for trainers in media, health, agriculture, environment, children, women, gender disparities, poverty alleviation and other rural development sectors. 
vi.  Establishing linkages with local, provincial, national and international organizations working in similar fields. In order to achieve above objective, the CRDC is expected to hold following programmes: 
vii.  Research in the field of development communication; 
viii. Dissemination of research findings; 
ix.  Linking local, provincial, national and international organizations in a manner that would facilitate such programmes; 

The writer is the Director of the CRDC, Communication), University of Sindh, Jamshoro.;


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