Effective communication is vital if development efforts are to succeed. It helps spread new technologies, multiplying the impact of a project many times over. It ensures that a project takes into account the knowledge and wishes of local people — the project partners and clientele. Sharing ideas and experiences is important if the lessons from a project are not to be lost.
Without information on new technologies and market opportunities, the poor in developing countries are being left even further behind. Media can help bridge the gap: they range from simple pamphlets to video, from indigenous communication channels to the Internet. There are many ways to make information available to local people and project staff. These include traditional print and broadcast media, and computers and other new technologies.
Messages must be designed carefully to help people understand easily. Finding the information you need and deciding on an appropriate message can be very difficult. Skilful editing and clear illustrations can clarify complex ideas. Information materials can be produced in different ways, including through intensive writeshops. These approaches can reduce the time needed to produce information, as well as increase the value of the content.
The audience can include farmers, extensionists, scientists, policymakers... and a host of other groups. They are all actors in a knowledge system, each group interacting in various ways with other groups. Each group has its own unique characteristics and needs, so different media and messages may be required.