Foundation Training on Communicating with Communities

 

Participants at the training course in Yangon, Myanmar  Photo: Contributed


The Global Chin Christian Federation (GCCF) is an international platform for cooperation and collaboration for the betterment of the Chin people, both Myanmar and internationally. GCCF is an active WACC corporate member, as well as a current project partner under WACC’s Communication for Social Change programme. GCCF’s participation in this training will help enhance WACC’s capacity to contribute to the work of the ACT Alliance in Myanmar.

The Communicating with Disaster Affected Communities (CDAC) network conducted a 5-day foundation training on communicating with community (CwC) in Yangon, the capital of Myanmar, from the 7th of November through the 11th of November this year. WACC is a member of CDAC and thus I was privileged to attend the training.

The way the training is conducted is more like a two-way process of information giving and sharing, and accordingly is very lively and interesting. Many of the participants are from INGO working in Myanmar with extended experiences of the country that the sharing of their experiences turn out to be a good complement to the course of the training.

What lies at the center of the training course is, as the title hints, the community, and communicating with the community is the best way to address problems in disaster-affected areas, or we can say in a normal situation anywhere. The emphasis is that communicating with the community should be a two-way process, i.e., bottom-up and top-down or horizontal and vertical. Interesting to note is that bottom-up should be given priority over the top-down because the top-down information has to be based on the bottom-up information. In other words, the vertical information ought to be a response to challenges that are being surfaced by the horizontal information. To be effective, information should be clear, concise and timely.

One thing that needs to be borne in mind when working with a community is that the whole population of the community, or all segments of the community, should be equally covered in the efforts. The best way to achieve this is to meet and talk with focused groups in the community called Focus Group Discussion (FGD). Through FGD all segments of the community can be reached and their voices can also be heard directly. This helps doing justice in the work. Listening and responding to the voices of all segments of the community equally is the best remedy for bringing justice into the community. When justice is not done and not kept, then problems bigger and hotter than the original ones can emerge.

Communicating with community also enhances the credibility, transparency and accountability of any initiative taken for a community. When there is transparency and accountability, there is an increased effectiveness and a lasting positive impact on the community will be achieved. Information on Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS) is a very good tool and I personally hope that CHS should be adopted as a guideline in the attempt to communicate with the community.

Finally, I learned through the training the importance of providing a variety of platforms for the community for feedback and response. In doing so, what we should not forget, but take seriously is the poorest and helpless segment of the community’s population. The platforms we provide must include the ones that are easily accessible and open to those marginalized in the community’s population. Only when information feedback from this marginalized segment in the community is heard, justice can be done fairly and squarely. This is the most valuable aspect of communicating with the community, and I think this should be respected and followed by any individual person and organization that are working for a community. 

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