Assessing the role of Development Communication in fostering social change: the case study of Sesotho Media and Development (SM&D)
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A number of programmes have been implemented in the field of development communication, with the specific aim of promoting social change among communities, and a series of studies have illustrated the positive effects of entertainment-education (EE) interventions on individuals’ behavioural change. These programmes can be applied in a variety of fields, including health, agriculture and sustainable development, and make use of a different range of media such as radio, television and theatre. In line with the theory and conceptual framework of the Integrated Model of Communication for Social Change (IMCSC), this research is intended to explore, empirically, how development communication programmes can foster collective action amongst community members. The research is based on a case study of Sesotho Media & Development (SM&D), a nongovernmental organisation that has been operating in Lesotho, using media to promote social transformation and individual change. For the past 10 years, SM&D has been working in Lesotho using a methodology based on facilitated documentary screening with a specific focus on HIV/Aids-related issues, combined with capacity building programmes aimed at training facilitators among support groups, youth groups and prison inmates around the country. Both quantitative and qualitative research methods of enquiry were employed throughout the research. Common research tools used include questionnaires, semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions and observation. In addition, a variety of secondary sources of information, including evaluation reports, funding proposals and journal articles were reviewed. The results of the study reveal that development communication initiatives are able to foster collective forms of action by increasing the level of efficacy amongst the audience. Conclusions highlight that participatory development communication with an educational aim allows people to identify problems and to strategise and mobilise resources for collective action.