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Making integrated rural development programmes work: A communication strategy for ending poverty in Africa
Integrated Rural Development Programmes (IRDPs) and more recently, Poverty Reduction Strategy Programmes (PRSPs), have become the gateway to poverty reduction, food security and sustainable development. However, in spite of their importance and the fact that billions of dollars are being poured into these programmes, their success rate has been dismal at best. Based on a careful review of the literature and backed by field experience, the paper argues that IRDPs and PRSPs suffer a common calamity—their managers are unable to address human dimension concerns, such as participation, integration and capacity building that are deemed sine qua non to success. The paper offers Communication for Development (C4D), a new academic discipline and profession, as the key to meeting these human dimension concerns, and challenges developing countries to give the C4D approach a try. The paper notes further that leading development organizations, such as the World Bank and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, recognize the value of C4D; and in their 2007 joint policy report, World Congress on Communication for Development: Lessons, Challenges, and the Way Forward, urge developing countries to mainstream C4D in their poverty reduction programme as a way to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. It follows from the foregoing that The Bank will assist poor countries with grants or soft loans to pilot-test the C4D strategy. The C4D strategy has been field-tested and, therefore, offers great promise of making poverty reduction programmes work more sustainably. It is inexcusable, therefore, for developing countries not to try it.