It is sometimes assumed that we need more communication of evidence within the international development field. This is not necessarily true. More communication can simply end up as a form of ‘pushing knowledge down a hosepipe, in the hope that at least some of it will come out the other end’.1 What we need is far better communication of evidence within the international development field. This handbook is therefore designed to help development actors communicate better. It presents 23 tools, divided into the following categories: ‘Planning’, ‘Packaging’, ‘Targeting’ and Monitoring’. Communication is crucial in development – whether in the form of dissemination, guidelines, prescriptions, recommendations, advocacy, promotion, persuasion, education, conversation, roundtables, consultations, dialogue, counselling or entertainment. Sometimes, providing information is the most powerful strategy available. Information is a tool that helps people help themselves, in a ‘fishing-pole-rather-than-fish’ sort of way. Information is also the lever that people need to hold government accountable and to ensure transparency in participative and empowering processes. As one development communicator has put it ‘They say sunlight is the best disinfectant, well let the sunlight in!’2 But communication is often about more than providing information. It is about fostering social awareness and facilitating public democratic dialogue. It is about contributing to evidence-based policy, and about building a shared understanding which can lead to social change. It is about creating space for the voices of the poor to be heard, and, ultimately, it is about redistributing power. However, these positive effects of communication do not come automatically. More communication does not automatically mean more development. In fact, in certain situations, disempowering or esoteric
communication dynamics can dramatically hinder development – just think of gender and power issues, or the provision of incorrect information. This is why it is important to communicate better. We hope this toolkit can help.