Playing with fire: power, participation, and communication for development

Communication and its role in development and social change is still poorly understood and supported by large development players, despite decades of innovative practice and positive outcomes. Gaps between discourse and action, outdated evaluation methods, short timeframes, red tape, and power relations, combined with vertical and externally-driven communication models, and confusion between information and communication, all prevent development donors from giving support to participatory and community owned and managed communication initiatives. On the basis of decades of experience and observation, four key recommendations are made for transforming the communication profession both in higher education and in donor and development agencies.