Supporting communication for development with horizontal dialogue and a level playing field: The Communication Initiative

This article explores the motivation for, traces the development of, and details the distinctive strategy shaping The Communication Initiative (The CI), a network of those using communication to foster economic and social change in communities around the world. Network members access information and collaborate with each other through any of three knowledge websites - one with a worldwide overview and focus, one with a worldwide overview and focus on Latin America, and one with a focus on Africa - and their associated electronic newsletters. These online spaces are components in a broader process that the author terms ‘horizontal communication’, which is central to providing a non-judgmental, level platform for accessing the information and interactions that are important to those actually practising communication for development. Drawing on this approach, The CI has engaged 50,000-plus people from 184 countries over the past seven years; the author outlines the elements that have been central to this success.